by Stanley Ibeku
The seemingly political confusion and tension about the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari continued on Tuesday with the frontmen in Aso rock taking their shenanigans to ridiculous and witless heights. The cabals are hell-bent on deceiving Nigerians that all is well. Unfortunately, First Lady Aisha Buhari seemed to have joined the fray and perhaps being ensnared by the vicious allure of power, influence, and all the vain attractions of the seat of government. Most Nigerian leaders and their benefactors do not learn from history. Their penchant for the gains of the moment has always been their folly.
In a stage-managed exhibition that fell short of trappings of a spectacular theatrical performance, newsmen were apparently hoodwinked as they splashed their cameras and clutched their recorders. In near seamless events, two powerful government functionaries, one a cabinet member and the other a ‘commander’ of the nation’s revenue-spinning corporation were featured.
It was the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami after a ‘closed-door’ meeting with President Buhari and also the Group Managing Director of the NNPC Dr. Maikantu Baru. Malami said it was a routine briefing with the President. Newsmen said that Malami remarked that the president noted that there had not been any expeditious determination on the passage of the anti-graft bill by the NASS.
The minister was also said to have briefed the president on the report of the Electoral Reform Committee as well as other pending bills that were presented for the consideration of the Federal Executive Council as they relate to amendment to the electoral process. Baru on his part said he briefed the president on the activities of the corporation and its subsidiaries and on the relative stability in the nation’s oil and gas sector in recent time.
I am worried; so worried. All seems not to be well. Our President seems to be having medical challenges and it is normal. Even me, I am not sure I am totally medically fit except a comprehensive medical examination is carried out, and it is not unusual. After all, illnesses and the associated manifestations are part of life. But I am gravely concerned that in the case of our president, there seems to be a cover-up and a grand plan to keep Nigerians out of the picture.
After a nearly 50 day medical trip in the UK, President Muhammadu Buhari came back to the country amid jeers and cheers. While beer-parlour analysts, bush-bar critics and self-appointed pundits bashed the president for abandoning the State House Clinic and the numerous teaching hospitals, his political benefactors and die-hard fans lashed out at whoever dared to bash the president.
For more than three weeks now, the president has not attended the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and has conspicuously been absent in other state functions. At a point, were told that the president was attending to other matters of national importance from his official residence. The other Wednesday, the FEC meeting could not hold too. The government said the Easter festivities were the cause. But our president has not been seen in public. In fact, a Punch correspondent who was fired from Aso rock and later recalled wrote that ‘although some government officials were reported to have met with Buhari in his office during the week to update him of developments in their ministries, no photographs or video recordings of such encounters were made available by the Presidency, which was contrary to the usual practice’.
When the tension heightened, a bewildered nation was told that President Muhammadu Buhari is resting as advised by his doctors. Since the Presidency has refused to brief the anxious and concerned Nigerians on the health status of their President and the associated issues, speculations are rife as to real situation. According to SaharaReporters, three insiders in the Presidency say that the president has had severe difficulty eating and drinking fluids for several days.
While every human is bound to be ill at one time or the other, however, Muhammadu Buhari is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He will always be in the spotlight for obvious reasons. His wellbeing is the responsibility of all and so Nigerians have the right to know how he is fairing. But terse statements won’t help. While the president must not be recorded all the time he is attending to his duties, the situation at the moment demands that the citizens be updated more explicitly than briefing state house correspondents. I am not in any way suggesting that the meetings didn’t hold, however, more detailed information including graphic evidence will suffice.
Methinks the latest ‘presidential’ engagements by way of briefings without pictorial or video evidence smacks suspicion and deceit. If the president is able to have sessions with select officials, nothing stops him from making public appearances. If the president needs to be taken abroad for further medical attention as has been the case, then his handlers should do so. Besides, constitutional options should be considered in resolving the seeming quagmire. I am unaware of any medical room in the villa, unless there is one. Those that wield enormous powers in the Presidency should be mindful of the fact that President Buhari is a ‘public property’ and should be treated with utmost care. This is not a time to engage in political games and needless escapades.
This fresh suspense and anxiety are unnecessary and distracting. Is the president recuperating? Has he started resting as was hinted when he came back from the London trip?
Nigerians deserve to know. There comes a time in man’s life to choose between selfish considerations and national interest; retirement and work. Perhaps the time has come or the time is here. The cabals seem to have started their escapades. The seemingly prank won’t help President Buhari, it won’t help the nation either. Perhaps it may only benefit albeit undeservedly some persons with selfish interests. Nigerians are already hard-pressed with myriads of difficulties; the president’s health bogey should be an addition.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Stanley is a researcher and management consultant