The uncertainty around President Buhari’s continued absence
Editorial | Friday, 07 July 2017 11:39am | opinion
Today marks exactly 60 days since President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria to London for the continuation of his medical treatment but the nation is yet to know the nature of his ailment.
There are also growing cynicism and uncertainty about how much longer the President will stay away from the country as his return can only be at the behest of his doctors, according to the Presidency and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Last week, the APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, gave a glimpse of hope about the ill-health of the President, when he said with some degree of certainty that President Buhari was recovering fast and would soon return to the country. He, however, was not sure of the time the President would return.
Wife of the President, Aisha, just went back to London to attend to the President after spending some time with him earlier and coming home to assure Nigerians that the President was getting better and would soon return. But weeks after, there is no official information that is certain about his due date for return.
The cold silence over President Buhari’s health challenge has become worrisome as speculations are again heightened that he might be on life support as claimed by the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and other opposition elements.
President Buhari had on 6th June 2016, travelled to London to treat an ear infection, which took him 10 days. Again in January 2017, he left for London, where he spent about 50 days in the same London hospital, for undisclosed ailment.
This elicited reactions from the public basically because of the ill-advised manner in which his media handlers managed information regarding his medical challenge. They had denied he was ill and maintained he was ‘hale and hearty’ while telling an inquisitive nation that the President was only ‘resting.’
And when he returned to the country on Friday 10th of March, he had told a bemused nation that he had never been this ill in his life, which was an honest admission that served as refutation of the many denials of his aides and acolytes.
But it became conspicuous that the President did not fully recover when for jaundiced political reasons, the ‘cabal’ flew him back to Nigeria. However, his critical condition kept him away for too long from public functions as he failed to preside over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting for three consecutive times in one month amidst interminable excuses from the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
He, however, managed to appear in Aso Villa Mosque for Jummat prayers on Friday 5th May, after much pressure from the public. But he was looking increasingly frail, which revealed some real medical condition with the President.
Then he received the 82 Chibok girls that were released by the Boko Haram insurgents on Sunday 7th May during a ceremony heavily censored as independent media organizations were not permitted to cover the event apparently to stop them from capturing the real state of the President.
He was again ferried back to London on the same day when it became obvious he could not cope with the situation at home.
The BusinessPost commends the President for a proper handover of power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, to act, and the Acting President has proved to be effective in the discharge of that responsibility.
We are, however, worried that much as Osinbajo might try to steer the ship of the Nigerian state, he has been perceptively hobbled by the existence of this ‘cabal’ loyal to the President to take certain critical decisions as the situation in the country now requires.
It is becoming increasingly embarrassing that the legislative arm of government has kept mute over this development when the lawmakers are supposed to rise at this moment to question the real status of the President and take necessary constitutional measures to address the matter.
The BusinessPost states categorically that there is no country in the world where a president would go on an indefinite medical leave and the citizens will feign ignorance of the provisions of the law, which spell out that once the President becomes indisposed his deputy should take over fully.
We, therefore, urge the National Assembly, to in the wider national interest, shun partisan politics and liaise with the Executive Council of the Federation as provided for in section 144 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, and set up a medical team to ascertain the real situation with President Buhari.
The country has gone through this kind of indignity before during which the same cabal played a protracted but inexplicable trick around the medical challenge of late former President Umoru Musa Yar’Adua. It later turned out that the former President was incapacitated by an ailment diagnosed as Acute Pericaditis. Yar’Adua eventually died after all the infertile drama.
The BusinessPost is disturbed that the mischief around President Buhari’s health may linger. We also suspect that the President’s aides and acolytes will bring him back as public pressure mounts but this may not be his last medical trip.
We are convinced that it has become incumbent on the lawmakers and members of the Executive Council to end this suspense drama of President Buhari as it concerns Nigerians. It is not unusual for Nigerian citizens to be aware of what is wrong with their leader.
Having spent 10 days earlier to treat an ear infection, 50 days in London and still perceptively indisposed and another 60 days making it 120 days of the President’s absence from the country on medical leave, it is insensitive for the President’s handlers to keep Nigerians in this vortex of uncertainty.