Yesterday, the Director-General, Communications at the Kano State Government House released a video on Twitter of the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje speaking with President Muhammadu Buhari at a special prayer session organized for the state government for the President’s health.
— Salihu Tanko Yakasai (@dawisu) February 22, 2017
The conversation, which was in Hausa lasted for less than a minute, with the governor informing the President of prayers organized across the state for his health and the president expressing his gratitude, to which the almost 1000 clerics in attendance at the prayers cheered.
In many ways, the phone call is an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians and a continuation in the circus that has developed regarding the President’s health and his continued stay in the United Kingdom for over a month now.
Almost daily, Nigerians are treated to all sorts of contradictions on why President Buhari’s vacation in the UK has been extended indefinitely. While Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara say that he is hale and hearty, his spokesmen Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina have said that he is waiting for the results of his medical tests and that his privacy needs to be respected respectively. Nigerians are also continually treated to photos of himself with dignitaries.
Yet, Nigerians are still in the dark of what exactly ails him, since he cannot be hale and hearty and at the same time, be awaiting medical test results so much that he cannot be back in Nigeria at his duties.
All this has set off a firestorm of speculations as to the condition of his health and the implications of it on our polity. While President Buhari has avoided a constitutional crisis by informing the National Assembly of his vacation and handing over to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the duration of his vacation, his absence will unlikely avoid a political crisis if he continues to be away for so long and his health condition continues being shrouded in mystery.
The current drama is very reminiscent of that of late President Umaru Yar’adua for months leading into his death, and the phone call with the Kano State governor sounds eerily similar to the famous “Umaru, are you there?” phone conversation former President Olusegun Obasanjo had with his successor.
It is in many ways worse in President Buhari’s case because there is no way to verify that he was indeed the person at the other end of the line as his voice was not audible enough.
It is disheartening that the Presidency is not doing the right thing to reassure Nigerians about the health status of the President by letting them hear him directly rather than via proxies.
Even better, they fail to recognize the clamour to come clean about what exactly is going on with him regarding his health so that rumors do not take the information gap left by the unavailability of truth.
Anything short of these things come off as propaganda and trickery and experience has taught them better than to believe them. It is insulting to even engage in them.