By Josef Omorotionmwan
THE size of this card should not remove it from what it is – an open Get-Well Card that should, as usual, be kept on your bedside. Exactly 46 days ago, you returned to Britain to continue your treatment. We are encouraged by the cherry news, which your wife dispatched home on the penultimate Saturday, to the effect that you are recovering fast; and that you will soon return home. We join our faith with the Muslim faithful in shouting “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!!!”, because God is truly great. To Him be the glory.
The only prayer request that your wife placed on us is that we should not relent in praying for you. Indeed, we are praying, without ceasing, not only that you should be healed, but also that the healing shall be permanent. Mr. President, Sir, we are confident that the entire world joins us in wishing you a quick and full recovery; and we are equally confident that you will feel self-assured that you have worked hard enough to merit God’s infinite favour.
Your good works will continue to speak for you. We now know that you have consistently sought power, not for its own sake but you are interested more in what you can use power to do for humanity. The world-over, people in your type of situation have sought to cling tenaciously to power, even unto death. You remain the world’s undisputed heavyweight champion for good governance. From the lessons of history, it is abundantly clear that in good health and in bad, you have never allowed a vacuum to crop into governance in Nigeria. Your grand merit is that you have always appointed capable hands without respect to favouritism and political jobbery.
You seriously believe in delegating functions and that explains why God keeps giving you capable and trust-worthy lieutenants. Even in the best of health, we saw how constructively you used the late General Tunde Idiagbon to pilot the affairs of this country. This time around, not even the greatest iconoclasts can fault your choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo as Vice-President. A better choice, none can be! Mr. President, Sir, you are clearly in a class of your own. We shall now proceed to show how your counterparts the world-over almost ran their countries aground in times of presidential ailment such as you now have. Essentially, they all failed where you are succeeding. Bravo, Mr. President!
We cannot forget so soon how Nigeria almost crumbled when the late President Musa Yar’ Adua was vegetating in far-away Saudi Arabia and Goodluck Jonathan had no permission to take over his functions. We clearly remember how the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters went to throw the 2010 Appropriation Bill into the National Assembly while Vice-President Jonathan watched helplessly.
In a similar situation, perhaps unwittingly, you are making history. By your magnanimity and selflessness, the 2017 Appropriation Bill has just been signed into law by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. This is a historical feat. In his days, rather than handover to his Deputy so as to go on medical vacation and take proper care of his health, Boris Yelson virtually ran the Russian Presidency shuttling between the hospital and his office due to frequent and varying ailments. Russia was the worse for it all, particularly against the backdrop of cold war era.
In the US, the seriousness of presidential ailment has come into full focus on two principal occasions: First, we remember President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924). In the fall of 1919, Woodrow became incapacitated by a partial paralysis and he was totally unable to perform the responsibilities of his office. His condition was perfectly concealed from the American public while his wife effectively took over the running of his office. President Yar’ Adua’s wife and her co-travellers probably took a cue from this.
Again, we had the case of President Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969). He was disabled on several occasions – first, by a heart attack in 1955; by an ileitis attack in 1956; and by a severe stroke in 1957. The first two attacks knocked him down for almost six months. As happened to Vice-President Jonathan under Yar’ Adua, power was stoically denied Richard Nixon who was President Eisenhower’s Vice-President. Instead, a President Assistant, Sherman Adam, took over the duties of President. You have demonstrated beyond measure that change begins with you; and, indeed, the entire world has a lot to learn from you.
In any case, we are impelled to continue to pray for your quick recovery and early return to Nigeria. This is in the overall interest of the citizenry. It is also in keeping with God’s injunction, which runs through the entire gamut of Chapter 13 of the Book of Romans – we should consistently pray for those in authority. In the Book of Second Timothy, Apostle Paul goes further to justify praying for those in authority – it is only when they are at peace that the rest of society can be at peace.
Even where Acting President Osinbajo is doing exceedingly well, there are some unfinished businesses, which only you can do. For instance, nowhere in the world has an anti-graft war been so vigorously and persistently pursued. Your personal presence shall be required in writing the footnotes for this war. Besides there are some aspects of ethnic balancing that require your personal attention to conclude.
Before you took ill, you had just enough time to make some vital appointments into the public service. Perhaps inadvertently, those appointments were skewed in favour of the Core North. This is where every Nigerian has reason to pray for you. Those already favoured are asking God to bless you; and those yet to be favoured are earnestly praying for you to return quickly to balance the equation you left behind. We pray for you. Our dear President, we love you. You will not die, like the Psalmist says, you will live to fulfill your purpose for Nigeria. Here’s wishing you Godspeed and the very best.