It is 96 days today since the president, General Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, left the shores of our country for medical vacation in the UK. Adding the about 50 days he had earlier spent on the same vacation, General Buhari has spent a cumulative of about 150 days and still counting outside the shores of the country.
Given that no man is beyond the fallibility occasioned by sickness, the handling of such matters especially as it concerns a public and the highest ranking official of a nation is key and paramount to how the citizens act or react to such situations.
The handlers of Buhari have done great disservice to him. To say publicly and at different fora that Nigerians do not deserve to know what ails their president is not only an insult but also a futile attempt at the “privatization” of the president and the presidency by very few individuals who erroneously think our presidency is their private estate.
To this extent, those of us involved in the #ResumeOrResign protests are not in any way against the president for taking ill but much more to drive home a lesson to today’s cabal and tomorrow’s leaders that the presidency is a public entity and should be run not like a cult of secrecy and esoteric languages but as the people’s property. The people deserve full disclosure!
Some of the aides of the president have described the president as a private citizen and that it is disrespectful to ask the president to disclose what ails him! This is not only absurd but also goes a long way to show the mindset of those in the Villa.
Buhari’s medical bills are being picked by Nigerians. His welfare is our responsibility. When you are the one picking the medical bills of a patient, you deserve to know what ails the patient even doctors know this is the right thing to do.
Anyone who wants to live as a private citizen would do well to relocate from Aso Rock to their private residences and abdicate the mandate given them freely by the people. Aso Rock and their occupants are merely tenants. The Nigerian citizens are the landlords!
Apart from the above, we still wonder why the president would still be in the UK for treatment when his aides and supporters including the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, have told us severally that the president is “hale and hearty”.
Some of them have told us that “he is in good spirits” and have joked cheerfully with those who have visited him.
If the president is indeed hale and hearty, and is in good spirits, like his handlers would want us to believe, why is he still in the UK? Was he elected to be a foreign-based president?
Our demands are simple. Since they have told us that General Buhari is hale and hearty, and in good spirits, yet, has refused to return home after 95 consecutive days abroad, this amounts to nothing but truancy, and he should either #ResumeOrResign forthwith!
When you employ a man who has been away from work for 95 days and still counting on account of ill health, you are bound to sympathise with that man even if it is not convenient for you and is inimical to the general interest of your company.
But when his/her close relatives come to you to tell you as his employer that the one you have continued to keep as an employee, keep paying his full entitlements and emoluments, and keep picking his medical bills despite being away for so long is actually not sick but hale and hearty and is in good spirits, how would you react? What would you do? Would you keep paying his medical bills, would you keep paying his entitlements and emoluments, would you continue to keep him as an employee, or would you rather give him a mandate to either #ResumeOrResign? These are germane questions begging for honest and sincere answers.
Some have argued that Buhari’s absence has not stalled governance. But this is false. The truth is that governance is moving at “hand-brake” speed. Even when Buhari was fully fit, Nigerians, and even his staunch supporters, called him “Baba Go-Slow”, not to talk of now that his absence has totally blocked the road.
We know that Osinbajo is an acting president only on paper. He knows he is being watched and does not have the full powers to act independently as an acting president.
For example, the erudite professor of law has found it difficult if not impossible to assign portfolios to the ministers recently screened by the Senate. It is the same thing with ambassadors-designate who are yet to be deployed to their countries of assignment months after being screened by the senate. The functions these ones are supposed to be performing have, undoubtedly been left to suffer.
We still do not have a secretary to the federal government months after Babachir Lawal was suspended. Even the outcome of the panel set up to investigate him cannot still be acted upon beyond the suspension handed to him months after.
All these have further heightened our fears of Buhari’s capacity to coordinate our affairs because all these lacunae can be fixed with just telephone conversations with the “acting president”. We expect that even if Osinbajo is being stifled by interests, Buhari could have been giving directives on what to do on matters the cabal thinks are the exclusive preserve of the president even when we have an “acting president”. It is obvious that even the cabal doubts the mental capacity of the president to intervene in State matters.
Nigeria is too complex even for a fully fit president to lead not to talk of an absentee and unfit one. Little wonder we now have a more ferocious resurgence of the Boko Haram onslaught that has led to the killing of innocent people including oil explorers, University staff, fishermen, and the sacking of whole villages.
The general insecurity that has bedeviled our country in recent times is symptomatic of a country without a clear-cut chain of command. From incessant kidnappings, unabated ritual killings, terrorist attacks, police brutality on innocent and harmless protesters/citizens, continued job losses etc, it is obvious Nigeria is drifting southwards and only a sincere approach to the situation which includes giving full compliments of power to Osinbajo can save the country.
Apart from all these, General Buhari was also elected based on one of his cardinal campaign promises that he would stop “medical tourism” for all government officials in order to save us scarce resources. Today, no president has squandered our scarce foreign exchange on himself as much as Buhari, the same one who promised to patronize only our local hospitals. This is deceit, and Nigerians deserve better. In advanced democracies, such betrayal arising from not keeping to one’s core campaign promises is enough to get the president impeached. But here, we paper over such grave infractions and even treat those who demand that the right things be done like deviants.
While we are very happy that our president is “hale and hearty” and “in good spirits” to the extent that he has been having humorous exchanges and even shared jokes with the different delegates that have visited him in far away London, his new base, we have no doubt that this is true as his aides and other government officials who have said these are men and women we should believe as speaking the truth, it is therefore not too much to ask President Buhari to either #ResumeOrResign, as running a country like Nigeria from a foreign land is not the same as sharing jokes with his retinue of visitors while the country disintegrates right before our eyes.
Jude Ndukwe is an aide to Former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode