By Douglass Anele
It is very unfortunate that President Buhari’s health condition has provided another strong arsenal for his critics who argue that the APC federal government thrives on deceit, lies and asinine propaganda.
Sometime ago, top officials of government told Nigerians that Mr. President was “hale and hearty,” and since then, to support their claim photographs of Buhari with Alhaji Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande on one hand, and with leaders of the National Assembly, on the other, were emblazoned on the pages of newspapers.
As a matter of fact, when I asked my friend Femi Adesina in a telephone conversation about the condition of the President, he assured me that “The President would be back in the country before you knew it.” However, two days later his reassuring and confident words were undermined when it was reported that President Buhari would not be returning anytime soon, which suggests that his health condition is probably worse than what government officials would have us believe. It is painful that APC chieftains deceived gullible Nigerians with its vuvuzela gospel of change, but they are adding insult to injury with the shifting narratives concerning the health status of President Buhari.
As I argued before, the President has lost almost all his claim to privacy the moment he was elected into office. Therefore, Nigerians are right in demanding to know the truth about what is happening to their leader, whereas those hiding under the hyperbolic claim of his right to privacy are probably ignorant of the imperatives of leadership in a democratic setting or are afraid that discontinuation of Buhari as President either through death or serious incapacitation would mean cessation of the benefits they are enjoying from the system right now.
Of course, considering the current exchange rate of the naira to pounds sterling, the federal government will spend millions of naira on the President’s medical expenses and other incidental charges connected with it; but since human life is invaluable no amount of money spent on saving the life of our President is wasted. Yet, the citizens need to know the nature of Buhari’s illness so that they can adjust their expectations in line with reality and ignore the “alternative facts” presented by bulimic characters in the presidency. Meanwhile, now is the time Mrs. Aisha Buhari and members of the President’s immediate family should put an end to the shenanigans of APC chieftains.
How? By insisting that he resigns if his doctors frankly inform them that his condition is too serious for him to continue in office. Those who, for largely selfish reasons, want Muhammadu Buhari to continue in office at all cost, especially his Fulani kinsmen and agbata ekee politicians from other parts of the country who have already endorsed him for a second term of office, do not realize that he might recover from his current illness without necessarily being fit to continue as President. In my opinion,
Mrs. Buhari should put her husband’s health first: she should ignore the privileges of being a first lady and all the sugary insipidities from sycophants and take a firm stand with the children on this issue. Nigeria, like every other multiply plural country, is very difficult to govern effectively. The responsibilities of a President, even in the best of times are very demanding, not to talk of the present situation when things are falling apart in various aspects of our national life. Besides,
Buhari has already made history, first, as the only Nigerian, aside from Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who ruled Nigeria both as a military head of state and as a “democratically elected” civilian President and, second, as the first Nigerian that lost presidential elections thrice and got elected on the fourth attempt. Consequently, if he resigns now because of poor health, he would consolidate his legacy because his action would be a ringing refutation of the insulting white supremacist argument that black African leaders are so megalomaniac that they would rather die in office than leave voluntarily when there are good reasons for them to do so. Presently,
President Buhari has seriously damaged his reputation as a man who keeps his word, a man of integrity with zero tolerance for corruption. To start with, he reneged on his wise decision after losing the presidential election in 2011 that he would no longer contest the presidency again. Buharimaniacs for whom whatever President Buhari does is right would argue that he has a right to change his mind at any time.
I agree; but it is one thing for an ordinary citizen to change his mind about a personal matter and another for a former military leader with messianic following to change his mind after a well publicized pledge because an amorphous group of avaricious cash-and-carry politicians desperate to shore up their dwindling political clout wanted to use him to achieve regime change. In addition, during the presidential campaigns, Buhari claimed that he took a bank loan of twenty-seven million naira to purchase the nomination forms of his party without disclosing the collateral he presented to get the loan and the bank involved so that anyone interested in the matter can crosscheck his claim. I do not know of any serious bank that would give somebody millions of naira just to purchase presidential nomination forms.
Thus, in my view, the attempt by Buhari to present himself as a morally upright candidate who could not afford the nomination forms of the APC was unsuccessful because it appears far-fetched and most Nigerians did not believe his story. Again, since he assumed office in May 29, 2015, President Buhari has earned the unenviable reputation of being the most nepotic Nigerian leader since independence. His one-sided approach to the issue of fighting corruption and penchant to ignore or protect his loyalists in government even when there are prima facie cases of corruption against them has really tarnished his credentials on anti-corruption. Overall, the mediocre performance of his administration has eroded the confidence millions of Nigerians in his capacity to move the country forward to a better place.
Assuming President Buhari recovers and continues in office, he would have to perform extraordinarily well for millions of Nigerians to believe in him again. That was why I argued sometime ago that unless he returns and implements effective policies that uplift the welfare of Nigerians quickly, his victory at the polls might turn out to be a pyrrhic one. Now, if the performance of APC federal government thus far is any guide to what the future holds for Nigerians, it would be unrealistic to expect far-reaching positive changes before the next round of preparations for the 2019 elections commences next year.
Buhari’s government has derailed so much that the slogan of change is now a distant echo of deception in the consciousness of Nigerians; the so-called body language of the President which Lai Mohammed and his crowd of court-jesters invoked like magical incantation or spell that would end all our troubles has faded into oblivion. The fundamental lesson to learn from all this is that reality and truth will eventually prevail over “alternative facts” and deception.
It is only on the platform of truth, on the bedrock of facing reality without the opium of gullible self deception based on delusory hope of a messiah that Nigerians can build a solid, viable and just egalitarian society. It is disheartening that President Buhari and most members of the ruling elite have not realized that the fundamental political architectonic of this country constructed with grotesque scaffolding of the 1999 constitution is gravely flawed. I disagree with people like Prof. Tam David-West who assert claim that our current troubles have nothing to do with the constitution, that the problem lies wholly with those entrusted with implementing it.
One can as well argue that the problem with a complex malfunctioning machine is solely with those handling it and has nothing do with its design when there are obvious signs the basic design is flawed. The inability or unwillingness of the ruling elite to accept that the current constitution is suffocating the federating units and work assiduously to replace it with a better one generated through genuine democratic processes is the greatest challenge facing the country today.