In the year 2010, Nigerians, both home and abroad, were embroiled in what became an unending game to know the true state of the health of former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, a man many had taken time to like.
He came to power riding on the back of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his predecessor in office, who singlehandedly picked him and promoted his candidature against the interest of a motley crowd of presidential hopefuls and aspirants in the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Though Yar’adua publicly admitted that the election that brought him to power was massively fraught with irregularities, as his ‘godfather’ Obasanjo made the election ‘a do or die affair’, he went on to assume office but was weighed down by constant bouts of ill-health, a situation that held down his performance in office and gave undue power and clout to those around him, who against the law, exercised the President’s executive power while shutting out his deputy, the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
Even when it became obvious that the late President was no longer fit or able to function as President, the ‘cabal’ or his kitchen cabinet, as they were fondly called then, held on to power, deceiving Nigerians that their principal was responding to treatment and would soon return to resume office.
The problem however, was that Yar’adua did not transmit power to Goodluck Jonathan to act as president in his absence, until the National Assembly, acting in the interest of the nation and in response to mounting pressure from the Nigerian public, invoked what has come to be known as the doctrine of necessity, thus making Jonathan the Acting President until Yar’dua passed and was sworn in as President.
The present scenario in the country, with the mounting controversies and anxiety surrounding the health of President Muhammadu Buhari and his rumoured death, which has been debunked by his Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba, brings back to mind the Yar’adua case.
The health of the president and his true where about has become a subject of guess work since his sudden 10 day leave and trip to the United Kingdom was announced by the presidency.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President was to embark on a 10 day leave and trip to UK as part of his annual leave.
Adesina also hinted that while there, the President would undergo routine medical checkup.
Since the President left the shores of the country for the UK, the media, especially social media, has been buzzing with stories surrounding his health while others went to the ridiculous length of saying he is dead.
The way and manner presidential aides, especially those saddled with the task of managing the media and outflow of information for the President, have again resorted to making the same mistakes that almost plunged the nation into crisis in 2010, yet there are those who believe that the task of managing the president, especially a 73 rigid old man is not as easy as it seems!
President Buhari is a 73 year old man and every sane Nigerian knows that old age would definitely slow him down while he would also be susceptible to age related illnesses, but Nigerians also deserve to know the state of their President at any given time!
The question many are asking is must we go the way of former President Yar’adua again by allowing Nigerians to keep guessing about their President, while rumour mongers have a field day dishing out outright falsehoods and half-truths?
Why will the handlers of the President allow the nation to go into another round of agony and near crisis in the name of keeping the president’s state and location?
How difficult is it to record a video of the President wherever and in whatever state he is and let Nigerians see it?
Will it be too much to ask for the President to speak to Nigerians and assure them of his wellness or otherwise, if he and his handlers are not hiding anything?
Can there be a mechanism for ensuring that whoever would be the president of the country is not constantly bugged down by ill-health and constant trips abroad for Medicare. At least it was a known fact that late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua had a terminal disease before Obasanjo picked him. In the same vein, there were concerns about the health of President Buhari before the 2015 presidential election.
The task of governing a complex nation like Nigeria is not for the feeble hearted or the weak. It requires good health, mental alertness and ruggedness!
The nation is gradually going on the edge again over the health and whereabouts of the president; it is only hoped that Nigerians do not travel the whole length the way it happened before in 2010. But whatever happens, Nigerians deserve to know and the earlier they are told the truth, the better for all.
The question remains #WhereisBuhari?