Wednesday, May 03, 2017

President Buhari’s Health: When Lying Becomes An Art
May 4, 2017
Niran Adedokun
Nigerian Punch

Early this week, I said elsewhere that I do not imagine there could be many other countries in the world where agents of government play on the intelligence of their people as Nigeria. Then, I did not realise that the manipulators of the polity had grander plans coming. And from the events of the past two days, it is clear that there just will never be an end to the absurdities that we get around the seat of power in this country

In my write-up, I talked about the three-week public non-appearance of President Muhammadu Buhari and the serial modification of reasons for his failure to show up by government spokesperson, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

You will recall that since his return to the country on March 10, after a 59-day medical trip abroad, the President would at least appear at the Federal Executive Council meeting and join other faithful to observe Jumat service on Fridays.

For a lot of Nigerians who appreciate the fragile state in which the President appeared on his return, those two occasions, one in the service of his fatherland and the other, in satisfaction of his personal spiritual affiliation, were good enough.

But, on April 12, the President did not turn up at the weekly FEC meeting. Mohammed informed alarmed Nigerians that the agenda for that day was too light and insignificant to demand the Buhari’s attention; hence he ceded the responsibility to direct the meeting to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The meeting did not hold the following week and Mohammed was ready for the nation. He explained that away with some excuse about the Easter holidays and why things didn’t work together in favour of the meeting.

When President Buhari did not turn up at the meeting for the third time last week, the minister bluffed on by saying that his principal had now chosen to work from home. He was working for the country as files had been moved to his home office and he got briefings from the VP on a daily basis.

Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress were a bit bolder at telling us off shortly after. They came out of their first meeting to tell us that it was not compulsory for Buhari to preside over meetings of the FEC, hence we should permanently shut up. The nation then patiently waited to see what would happen at the FEC meeting this week.

But the minders of the President pre-empted the nation. The day after speculations that three former heads of state, two of who have been involved in deciding who leads Nigeria for four out of its five decades had a clandestine meeting in Minna, Niger State, Buhari came out of his hibernation. Never mind that no television camera, including that of the state owned Nigerian Television Authority captured the President at any time before, during or after his “closed door” meeting with the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Group Managing Director of The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru.

To further defuse speculations that Buhari may be terribly ill in such a way that should provoke national disquiet as suggested by one of his political acquaintances and  former Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Bisi Akande, wife of the President, Aisha, got unusual inspiration to tell the nation that her husband’s  health is “not as bad as being perceived.” She went on to tap into the brief of the duo of Messers Femi Adesina and Shehu Garba, official spokespersons for the President, to inform us that he was scheduled to meet Malami and Baru.

Although it would pass off as very convenient to the careful observer, Mrs. Buhari’s intervention in the confusion at hand was meant to be a masterstroke to hold off queries which were beginning to torrent in over the weekend. I am sorry to say, but it fails in that bid. On the contrary, it has inspired a desire to interrogate the motives of those who manufacture these strategies.

From the information that was shared, Mrs. Buhari just confirmed the fears of all Nigerians that the President is not exactly in good health, even if Mr. Lai Mohammed always tried to decorate the facts. The question to ask those who manage the President, including his wife, is this: if he is not in absolute good health, why lock him up at the Aso Rock instead of allowing him to seek medical attention in the United Kingdom as he told Nigerians when his returned in March? Buhari had at one time or the other confessed to the overwhelming nature of the job that he took on May 29, 2015, so what would a country in dire need of urgent leadership and direction gain from a President who can only function at half capacity.

It is more telling on the nation because, although the President is unable to attend to state duties with any vigour and diligence, his presence in the country, without any form of transition of power to Osinbajo, restrains the capacity of the Vice President to take those far-reaching decisions that would move the country forward at the needed pace. This is one of the reasons why I found Osinbajo’s chairmanship of the committee probing the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal and the Director -General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke, as comparable to sending a child on a meaningless errand just to distract him. It all suggests that Nigeria is currently running on auto pilot and only serving the interest of a few people.

Sometime last week, a popular online platform quoted sources as attributing the continued stay of the President in Nigeria to the ambition of some of the people around him. In the estimation of the publication, this powerful group has discouraged Buhari’s medical travel so they will continue to have a grip of the enormous powers of the Presidency. So for their own personal gains, they have enslaved and denied him the right to good health. They also deny the country quality leadership and unwittingly set us back.

But these friends of Buhari should do more harm to their hostage than they do anyone else. No matter how long it takes, the people will one day, have the benefit of good governance whether those who currently hold us down like it or not. What should be of concern to those who have the ears of the people currently is getting him in good health and the legacy that he leaves behind at the end of his tenure, the way generations of Nigerians will remember him.

Unfortunately, rather than focus on how to make the best of the next two years to execute the revolutionary mandate handed Buhari in 2015 to the advantage of the country and its people, politicians across the Babelic divides of the APC are busy strategising on how to outsmart each other in 2019, which is one of the reasons why lying and deception are becoming prominent tools in high places in Nigeria. But with God, Nigeria will prevail.

Follow me on twitter@niranadedokun

No comments: