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The Spiritual Side Side of Aso Rock by Reuben Abati

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​People tend to be alarmed when the Nigerian

Presidency takes certain decisions. They don’t

think the decision makes sense. Sometimes, they

wonder if something has not gone wrong with

the thinking process at that highest level of the

country. I have heard people insist that there is

some form of witchcraft at work in the country’s

seat of government. I am ordinarily not a

superstitious person, but working in the Villa, I

eventually became convinced that there must be

something supernatural about power and

closeness to it. I’ll start with a personal

testimony. I was given an apartment to live in

inside the Villa. It was furnished and equipped.

But when my son, Michael arrived, one of my

brothers came with a pastor who was supposed

to stay in the apartment. But the man refused

claiming that the Villa was full of evil spirits and

that there would soon be a fire accident in the

apartment. He complained about too much

human sacrifice around the Villa and advised

that my family must never sleep overnight inside

the Villa.

I thought the man was talking nonsense and he

wanted the luxury of a hotel accommodation.

But he turned out to be right. The day I hosted

family friends in that apartment and they slept

overnight, there was indeed a fire accident. The

guests escaped and they were so thankful. Not

long after, the President’s physician living two

compounds away had a fire accident in his

home. He and his children could have died. He

escaped with bruises. Around the Villa while I

was there, someone always died or their

relations died. I can confirm that every principal

officer suffered one tragedy or the other; it was

as if you needed to sacrifice something to

remain on duty inside that environment. Even

some of the women became merchants of Love

Machine because they had suffered a special

kind of death in their homes (I am sorry to reveal

this) and many of the men complained about

something that had died below their waists too.

The ones who did not have such misfortune had

one ailment or the other that they had to nurse.

From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and

whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of

agonizing patients.

I recall the example of one particular man, an

asset to the Jonathan Presidency who practically

ran away from the Villa. He said he needed to

save his life. He was quite certain that if he

continued to hang around, he would die. I can’t

talk about colleagues who lost daughters and

sons, brothers and uncles, mothers and fathers,

and the many obituaries that we issued. Even

the President was multiply bereaved. His wife,

Mama Peace was in and out of hospital at a

point, undergoing many surgeries. You may have

forgotten but after her husband lost the election

and he conceded victory, all her ailments

vanished, all scheduled surgeries were found to

be no longer necessary and since then she has

been hale and hearty. By the same token, all

those our colleagues who used to come to work

to complain about a certain death beneath their

waists and who relied on videos and other

instruments to entertain wives (take it easy boys,

I don’t mean nay harm, I am writing!), have all

experienced a re-awakening.

Everyone who went under the blade has received

miraculous healing, and we are happy to be out

of that place. But others were not so lucky. They

died. There were days when convoys ran into

ditches and lives were lost. In Norway, our

helicopter almost crashed into a mountain. That

was the first time I saw the President panicking.

The weather was all so hazy and he just kept

saying it would not be nice for the President of a

country to die in a helicopter crash due to pilot

miscalculations. The President went into a

prayer mode. We survived. In Kenya once, we

had a bird strike. The plane had to be recalled

and we were already airborne with the plane

acting like it would crash. During the 2015

election campaigns, our aircraft refused to start

on more than one occasion. The aircraft just

went dead. On some other occasions, we were

stoned and directly targeted for evil. I really

don’t envy the people who work in Aso Villa, the

seat of Nigeria’s Presidency. For about six

months, I couldn’t even breathe properly. For

another two months, I was on crutches. But I

considered myself far luckier than the others

who were either nursing a terminal disease or

who could not get it up.

When Presidents make mistakes, they are

probably victims of a force higher than what we

can imagine. Every student of Aso Villa politics

would readily admit that when people get in

there, they actually become something else.

They act like they are under a spell. When you

issue a well- crafted statement, the public

accepts it wrongly. When the President makes a

speech and he truly means well, the speech is

interpreted wrongly by the public. When a policy

is introduced, somehow, something just goes

wrong. In our days, a lot of people used to

complain that the APC people were fighting us

spiritually and that there was a witchcraft

dimension to the governance process in Nigeria.

But the APC folks now in power are dealing with

the same demons. Since Buhari government

assumed office, it has been one mistake after

another. Those mistakes don’t look normal, the

same way they didn’t look normal under

President Jonathan. I am therefore convinced

that there is an evil spell enveloping this country.

We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of

darkness. Aso Villa should be converted into a

spiritual museum, and abandoned.

Should I become President of Nigeria tomorrow, I

will build a new Presidential Villa: a Villa that will

be dedicated to the all-conquering Almighty, and

where powers and principalities cannot hold

sway. But it is not about buildings and space, not

so? It is about the people who go to the highest

levels in Nigeria. I really don’t quite believe in

superstitions, but I am tempted to suggest that

this is indeed a country in need of prayers. We

should pray before people pack their things into

Aso Villa. We should ask God to guide us before

we appoint ministers. We should, to put it in

technocratic language, advise that the people

should be very vigilant. We have all failed so far,

that crucial test of vigilance. We should have a

Presidential Villa where a President can afford to

be human and free. In the White House, in the

United States, Presidents live like normal human

beings. In Aso Villa, that is impossible. They’d

have to surround themselves with cooks from

their villages, bodyguards from their mother’s

clans and friends they can trust. It should be

possible to be President of Nigeria without

having to look behind one’s shoulders. But we

are not yet there. So, how do we run a

Presidency where the man in the saddle can only

drink water served by his kinsman? No. How can

we possibly run a Presidency where every

President proclaims faith in Nigeria but they are

better off in the company of relatives and

kinsmen. No. We need as Presidents men and

women who are willing to be Nigerians. No

Nigerian President should be in spiritual bondage

because he belongs to all of us and to nobody.

Now let me go back to the spiritual dimension. A

colleague once told me that I was the most

naïve person around the place. I thought I was a

bright, smart, professional doing my bit and

enjoying the President’s confidence. I spelled it

out. But what I got in response was that I was

coming to the villa using Lux soap, but that most

people around the place always bathed in the

morning with blood. Goat blood. Ram blood.

Whatever animal blood. I argued. He said there

were persons in the Villa walking upside down,

head to the ground. I screamed. Everybody

looked normal to me. But I soon began to

suspect that I was in a strange environment

indeed. Every position change was an

opportunity for warfare. Civil servants are very

nice people; they obey orders, but they are not

very nice when they fight over personal interests.

The President is most affected by the

atmosphere around him. He can make wrong

decisions based on the cloud of evil around him.

Even when he means well and he has taken time

to address all possible outcomes, he could get

on the wrong side of the public. A colleague

called me one day and told me a story about

how a decision had been taken in the spiritual

realm about the Nigerian government. He talked

about the spirit of error, and how every step

taken by the administration would appear to the

public like an error. He didn’t resign on that basis

but his words proved prophetic. I see the same

story being re-enacted. Aso Villa is in urgent

need of redemption. I never slept in the

apartment they gave me in that Villa for an hour

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