The seeming and repeated uncertainties over the health status of Nigeria’s President is one that Nigerians did not bargain for. This is the second time in a sitting president’s tenure that there have been this much health controversy and one might be tempted to conclude that it is fast becoming a norm.
On Wednesday the 3rd of May 2017, Buhari failed to turn up for the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, for the third time in a row, deepening anxiety over his health. The minister for Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says Buhari has been advised to take some rest by his doctors.
Lots of Nigerians have opined that there is no crime in being sick as anyone could be visited by illness at any time. The only challenge is the fact that the health of the president have been shrouded in heavy secrecy. The presidency might think that this is the way to go but that strategy of keeping Nigerians in the dark have not paid off much. The disquiet that began last year when twice, the President jetted to the United Kingdom ostensibly for medical check-up, only for the trips to stretch for longer than expected will not go away. Each time, rather than give an unambiguous report to Nigerians, the Presidency declined to give details of his ailment, thereby making a fool of the same electorate that put him in power. On a recent trip that lasted weeks and led to alarming speculations, some party leaders and senior federal lawmakers had to visit him in London. Photographs of him from those meetings gave way to more frenzied speculations and ‘scoops’ on his true state of health. In the absence of real information beyond the cant of government spokesmen, rumours have triggered fear and grave uncertainties.
Nigerians have travelled this inglorious road before between 2009 and 2010 when the late terminally-ill President Umaru Yar’Adua was jetted out of the country, paving the way for his close aides to capture the reins of power, ruling in his name and plunging the country into an unnecessary constitutional crisis.
We are worried, not because Buhari is ill, but that events are heading in a dangerous direction again. His repeated absence from duty post have strengthened the believe that Nigeria is presently being ruled by a cabal. One would have thought that the most honourable thing to do in the circumstance would be to resign and have time to spend with his family and friends but then, the attitude of Africans towards power have been the same.
Buhari’s prolonged absence from official duties is fueling lethargy and confusion in government. For about three weeks, the President has been absent from his desk, public functions and even religious activities. He has simply been held up inside the villa and we hear lots of directives being given in his name.
Nigerians simply urge President Buhari to take some urgent decisions. He should immediately declare his health status to douse the speculative game. In accordance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution, he should not hesitate any further to embark on another medical vacation and transfer power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to act as President once more in the interest of the overall progress and stability of the country. We also wish him quick recovery.