Will the President Buhari ever “get well”?
First thing first, I remain an unrepentant believer of President Muhammadu Buhari. If the 2015 presidential election holds a hundred times with the same candidates, Buhari will have my vote a hundred times. I was never a believer of the change revolution, particularly, not as canvassed by the entirety of the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Even the scripture forbids putting a new wine in an old wineskin. It’s a time bomb that will blow-up eventually. I had long reached a point where I can clearly differentiate mere political talks from true words of hope. Right from onset, I was very certain that the only realizable change ahead of the 2015 general elections was a major upset at the center. And thankfully, it happened. So, my believe in President Buhari has nothing to do with a political party.
If there’s one important thing that Segun Adeniyi’s book, “Against the Run of Play” has reaffirmed, it is the undeniable fact that Goodluck Jonathan orchestrated his own defeat. Having previously contested and lost three presidential elections, President Buhari, again, ahead of 2015 election, had so many odds against him, particularly running against a more celebral incumbent.
One of the odds against Buhari was his age. Yes, age is a factor when it comes to governance. Take it or leave, the stunted growth and increasing underdevelopment of African countries is directly connected to the senility of African leaders. Of course, Nigerians were fully aware of the impending dangers of a Buhari presidency but in the words of Segun Adeniyi, “…there was only one sensible option…”.
As humans, we are all vulnerable to various health challenges. So, it’s neither a sin nor a taboo for one to occasionally fall sick regardless of age. However, while admitting the fact that sickness is a natural phenomenon, it must be clearly said that people in declining years are more vulnerable to sickness than those in youthful age.
It was (and still) the earnest prayer of the pro-Buhari that nature will be kind to the President. Alas, our biggest fear is manifesting. Age is fast catching up with the President. However discreet the managers of the president may wish to be regarding the president’s health, the truth remains that President Buhari’s lingering ill-health is possing a serious obstruction to the effectiveness of the office.
In less than two years, the president has already travelled abroad almost three times on medical grounds. That’s very unusual considering the fact that for anyone to aspire for the office of the president, among other criteria, such a person must meet a certain level of health stability. A president’s health status is a critical part of the office and more so, the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) recognizes health as one of the conditions by which a president can be removed from office.
For avoidance of doubt, Chapter VI, Section 144 of the Constitution states;
(1) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if –
(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.
(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.
The clause “…permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office…” in sub 1(a) to a certain degree, is a good description of President Buhari’s current situation. For instance, Section 148 of the Constitution states; (2) The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of ¬
(a) determining the general direction of domestic and foreign policies of the Government of the Federation;
(b) co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities; and
(c) advising the President generally in discharge of his executive functions other than those functions with respect to which he is required by this Constitution to seek the advice or act on the recommendation of any other person or body.
It can be recalled that shortly before he embarked on his current medical vacation, President Buhari consistently missed a couple of FEC meetings. Of course, that was after the Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed had announced to the nation that the President “will now be working from home”. Sadly, Nigerians are oblivious of the many other critical and salient issues the president has failed to handle owing to his ill-health.
It is therefore pertinent for Nigerians to reassess the president’s situation from a more sincere and patriotic perspective. Beyond all the good prayers and “get well soon” wishes, we must give unbiased considerations to the state and fate of the Nation.
While we pray for the president’s quick recovery, we must equally consider all possibilities in regards to the president’s health. Truth is, if President Buhari is yielding to the course of old age (which is obviously the case), then coming back to Aso Rock should not be part of his recovering plan. It is very unpatriotic to tie the fate of the entire nation to an insolvable problem; no one recovers from old age. The time is too critical for the country to continue with this Yar’Adua omen.
Barring all political gimmicks usually associated with power transmission in Nigeria, Acting-president Yemi Osinbajo is good enough to assume the number position (as the Constitution demands) should President Buhari decide to do the needful.
On a lighter note, yesterday, I stumbled on this list of 21 African Presidents and their ages. At 73, President Buhari is among the youngest on the list. Is Africa not in a deep trouble?
By Edidiong Udobia