The shame we have to bear this week, as Nigerians, is that CNN, the “Fake News Network”, dedicated expensive airtime to mocking Nigeria’s current state affairs. CNN, one of the leading cable news outlets in a country where their unpopular President has a “dangerous mental illness”, found it appropriate to make fun of Nigeria for having a President who has failed to step foot in his home country for two months.
Now, as a Nigerian, this fact of President Muhammadu Buhari’s indefinite absence has become the norm. We’ve become so used to it and the fact that things run well without him. The only time this moot fact is dug up is when a member of the opposition feels the need to score some cheap points off the irony of the Change agenda that brought Buhari into power.
Like your character flaw that has become such a habit, requiring the intervention of a stranger to make you take serious note of it, Buhari’s absence is a topic that requires fresh new address. Or how do we justify all of the benefits and entitlements that accrue to a President that has not shown up to work in over two months.
Forget whether he’s on life support or not. Forget about the speculation over his loss of speech and the extent of his illness. Forget about the utter stupidity of several governors taking a trip to pay homage and show their allegiance to the “Lion King”. Essentially, forget about everything else that does not remind you of the injustice of this mess, including the secretly guarded nature of his illness.
Of course, it’s terrible that our President is ill. In fact, the failed state that President Goodluck Jonathan had left us with by 2015 is a strong indication that Nigerians may have still voted heavily in favour a Muhammadu Buhari while knowing he had a pre-existing condition. That’s a wild guess but that’s exactly the kind of detail we want you to forget now.
What’s more important is that we finally decide to ask the more meaningful questions. Like asking by how much has President Buhari’s remuneration been reduced since he’s been away? It’s only reasonable that some deductions must have been made from his benefits since he’s been paid by the same tax payers who have been left without his service – the service he was elected to provide.
We should also now be asking whether the President intends to come clean about the state of his health and what he has planned for the rest of his tenure, however short. The truth is that he did no one a favour when he handed over power to his Vice President because he did not. He simply did what was required.
Further, as we stop obsessing over the division in the ranks and who the hyenas, jackals and weaker animals are, we need to start obsessing over the best way to avoid electing a President that will fall ill mid-tenure anymore.
Let’s just start asking the relevant questions. So that CNN hosts, once accused of plagiarism for a large part of their career, won’t use us as the punch line in a weak joke.