After weeks of speculation, intrigues and suspense, President Muhammadu Buhari finally returned on Friday from his long, ‘indefinite’ vacation to the United Kingdom. His return elicited wild jubilation in many parts of the country and made the nation heave a collective sigh of relief over the growing political impasse caused by his long absence.
President Buhari’s return has also laid to rest the numerous conspiracy theories that have arisen in his absence, mostly caused by the very shoddy handling of information around his illness by the Presidency which we have criticized in a previous editorial. All claims by presidential spokesmen that the President was hale, hearty and ‘only resting’ were shattered by his admission that he had never been so ill before since his days as a young man.
However, we are not yet out of the woods as regards the political situation caused by his absence with his disclosure that he will likely be back in the United Kingdom in a few weeks for more tests. While the president has done well in ensuring that governance does not grind to a halt by handing over to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to act in his stead, that has not stopped a political deadlock from arising.
Although this present situation is far better than the one that happened during the illness of late President Umaru Yar’adua, the similarities are still numerous, especially with the manner in which what exactly ails the president being a closely-guarded secret.
Nigerians are not unaware of these similarities and are watching the situation with bated breath; so also does the international community and particularly foreign investors. Undoubtedly, this situation raises the political risks of investing in Nigeria, especially as regards the uncertainty of policy sustainability.
It is not unlikely that Vice President Osinbajo has a different approach to certain problems from his boss, which was in many ways evident in the past few weeks in issues ranging from monetary policy to illegal refineries in the Niger Delta. However, the lack of clarity concerning the president’s health prevents him from making radical shifts to policy that will be hard to reverse from.
As a result, the status quo regarding our economic and political situation remains until there is assurance that whatever policy changes that will be made will remain in place for long and not change when President Buhari is fully back in the saddle.
Not only that, the shoddy way the Presidency has handled the President’s health crisis is unlikely to change. There is no assurance that this will change should the president go back to the United Kingdom for further tests as he has indicated.
It is sad that the Presidency does not realize that its refusal to be forthcoming with details of the President’s illness or have one consistent story continues to create the right environment for rumors and conspiracy theories to thrive.
We wish the President full recovery and the best of health. However, we are not optimistic that his return will make much of a difference in the meantime.
Follow @ynaija on Twitter