By Donu Kogbara
MR President flew to London on January 19. His office described this trip as a “medical vacation”; and he’s still in the UK, receiving treatment.

His absence has generated endless speculation and plenty of gossip. Ever since he left Nigeria, various media and non-media fora have been ablaze with rumours about the nature of his illness, the length of time he’s likely to spend away from his desk in Abuja and the possibility that he will never return (at one point a couple of weeks ago, someone was irresponsibly spreading the false claim that he had died). 

There have also been numerous stories about the aides and relatives who are allegedly controlling access to him, the people who are allegedly being prevented from seeing him; and so on.

I have mixed feelings about this situation. Sometimes I think that the Presidency’s communications team should be less uptight and more transparent and jolly well tell us exactly what is wrong with our Oga-At-The-Top. After all, Muhammadu Buhari is a public servant, so shouldn’t the state of his health be a public matter?

But sometimes I wonder whether every gory detail is the general public’s business. In other words, does he not deserve privacy? Is it not enough that we have been informed that he is ill? Why does anyone who is not a member of his family or a particularly close or particularly senior government official or political associate need to know more?

Also, why all this fuss and bother about access to Mr President being controlled as if there is something sinister about limiting access to a patient or something sinister about vetting his guest list?

Is it not normal for access to ANYONE who is ill to be controlled by their staff or nearest and dearest? When ordinary people (never mind heads of state) are suffering from ailments or simply recuperating, is it desirable for every Tom, Dick and Harry (or Tunde, Emeka and Ibrahim!) to be allowed to see them?

Mr President has been photographed with various VIP visitors, including key APC personnel – the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, etc. Must he see everyone who wants to see him at any time, never mind at a time when he’s frail?

When I was kidnapped and released by my abductors after two weeks of heavy stress and hell, I was amazed by the number of people who felt aggrieved about the fact that I didn’t take calls or respond to emails for several weeks.

It was as if their feelings were more important than my trauma!
Having said all of this, isn’t it a BIG shame that Nigerian Presidents are still running abroad for medical reasons?

I’m told that there are some highly competent specialist doctors in Nigeria. And I’d have expected Buhari (who has made much of his modest, ascetic, abstemious tendencies) – of all people –  to keep costs down by getting treatment at home.

He claims to be a man of the people and friend of the Talakawas and the penniless. And it would’ve been nice if he had spent the past couple of years beefing domestic hospitals up, so that he and everyone else could get the best possible treatment on Nigerian soil. 

Meanwhile, Buhari spoke with his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, last week on the telephone for the first time since he took off to London.

Adesina, who confirmed the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, said that 
until then, he’d only spoken to third parties who are with the President in London and that:

“Not once did I ask them to take the phone to him, deliberately so, because I didn’t need to speak with him to validate the fact that he was alive. And since he is on vacation, he has a right to his privacy.”

Anyone who is disgruntled about being fenced should take a leaf out of Adesina’s book because he has the right attitude and realises that it’s about the person who has problems, not about him! 

Drama as Senate screens 82-year-old ambassadorial nominee

THE Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday, screened an 82-year-old non-career ambassadorial nominee, Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (retd.), who refused to recite the National Anthem when he was asked to do so. The senators were shocked but Nsofor was eventually asked to take a bow and leave the venue.

I am much less shocked by his recalcitrance than by the fact that a man of that age is still on the job market! How selfish can anyone be?!!!

He was a Judge of the High Court of Nigeria, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, and a Lecturer of Law at the Holborn College of Law in London .

So he’s immensely accomplished. But surely it is time for him to forget about career ambitions and stand back and hand the baton to younger generations.

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