By Daniel Ezeigwe…
Before the emergence of the present regime in May, 2015, there had been calls and wails for leadership sanitation by the over one hundred and eighty million Nigerians, and even those in the Diaspora. The country was thought to be in total governmental disarray, infested with political moths and worms, and in dire need of effective fumigation.
Then came President Muhammadu Buhari; the old-new face in the Nigerian political vineyard, and the man said to have manned the over-advertised 1985 – 1989 military government, where discipline and order were the societal norms. But perhaps what the majority of the Nigerian electorate and political seers who rallied behind the current president for messianic redemption, did not put into insightful cross-checks was the vigor and virility with which a then-seventy-two-year old could steer the over-compartmentalized Nigerian political spaceship.
Maybe that ‘shrewd’ thought of the age-long ‘Nigerian’ cliché that ‘an old soldier never dies’ was the sole yeast of their optimism. However, the present political manifestations in the country have over-burdened the minds of these cheerers with the unending questions of under-brewed choice and hardcore decisions in the face of uncertain dynamics.
Since the inception of the current leadership on May 29th, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari has spent approximately 170 executive days on medical trips to London. In 2017 alone, the president was away on health grounds for 154 of his 230 days in power.
The alarming political consequences of these under-illuminated absences on the country seem to have been expertly buried by the political hatchetmen of this administration. The allegations of a cabal running the government because of the president’s infirmity and constant medical recess abroad, have been met with disdain, indifference and nonchalance. Even when the wife of the president collaborated the rumours, many political observers who thought some behavioral reshuffling was forthcoming from the president were dazed when Mr President, in an interview, wrote off his wife’s knowledge of his political escapades.
But whether the regime has been hijacked by a cabal or not, does not critically answer the pertinent question of how physically and mentally fit the president is to administer unadulterated governance, free from political maladies and deteriorated policies. Because a political structure that is embroidered by maladroitness and ineptitude, must definitely remain porous to leadership anti-bodies in search of a means to exploit even the last of rubbles.
The president as a ‘public’ servant, and as a matter of candid service owes the Nigerian people, who elected him, at least a brief description of his ailments, whether the constitution compels him to do so or not. That keep-the-problems-to-myself ideology, in order not to stir up the polity, favour the opposition, or mar the re-election chances, has only boomeranged catastrophically, given that the polity has already lost political quietude.
The opposition has masterfully or wilily cashed in on the situation, and the re-election bid has looked the most mountainous of all tasks. Such ill-thought attempt to achieve reticent has often been the biggest cause of ill-judgment among the African political elites. In their desperate thirst for millennial political relevance, the African leaders have discarded the fundamental basics of true and selfless service, on the alter of mediocrity and negligence.
In a sharp replication of those ugly antecedents, President Buhari’s constant travels to London for medical solace, reflects the abandonment of the Nigerian health sector to spoilage, rot, and decomposition. Such total distrust, or, in a least harsh sense, lack of faith of the president in his country’s health system, only conveys some strong signals of disrepute and insincerity about the leaders to the people.
On the first part, such leadership daints show the president cannot pay attention to the health demands of Nigerians, when in fact, his own health concerns are abroad-based. Secondly, such indifference by the so-called custodians of our political insurance tells a sad story about how impassive the leaders are about the general wellbeing of the people who set them on the course of power. But the onus is on the people to start questioning the excesses and improprieties staring them in the eyeballs from dirty corridors of power, if power is truly of or with them.
Sadly, Nigerian electorate are often been found lost in this important aspect of political demands, thereby availing the leaders of an express platform to exploit responsibilities, treading on the dried skulls of their subjects.
The toll of President Buhari’s health sojourns on the economic calculations of the country also comes to mind in the discourse of leadership wantonness, especially in a period when the country’s economy has remained obstinately mute to the hymns of revival.
The president, is one of the country’s prerogatives, and at such periods of health concerns, currencies must be made available to ensure he gets the best medical care, and in a situation where such trip ends in London, heavier bills are inevitable. The Nigerian leader probably has not taken some moments of pensiveness to reflect on how monumental the costs of his medical bills abroad alone could be if truthfully invested in Nigeria’s dwindling health sector. The African leader is most likely not adept at cognitive politics; the type that rehearses every policy and idea, with due regards to their effects on the least of the population.
The often assumed burdensomeness of the Nigerian political rein is a political decoy craftily designed to force away the observance of the watching masses from the eyesores of government.
President Buhari’s April 9th declaration of a second-term ambition did not come as a huge surprise, given that the Nigerian political class has shown expertise in harnessing undue applause in the midst of nonperformance. Many pundits saw the move as not pragmatic. Few applauded the decision, even with the president himself saying he was ‘responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019.’
Questions about his health in the face of Nigeria’s leadership burdens were submerged by petty politics and cheap propaganda. In 2010, when the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua was battling with pericarditis, there were similar political melodrama, and the schemers of that unscrupulous theatrics never minded if the country’s engine overheated or knocked. The current president is probably thinking his constant excercitation of the Section 25(1) of the Nigeria Constitution is enough time to buy good health, or to remain the titular Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, but the lasting damage of these unwell agenda on the nation’s economic, political, and ethnic pivots is always colossal.
Even with the delegated power, there is still a palpable power vacuum in government owing to the fact that the Vice President, who would be working as an ‘acting’ president does not have the full power of a president. The president’s health concerns are a serious cause of discomfort for the country. Political power alone is a terrible usurper of physical power, and when the latter is far from sound, even the mental demands are maligned.
With the population of over one hundred and eighty million, it is expected that the General must be fit enough to issue the commands of combat, lest the cliché about the ‘old soldier who never dies’ remains a farce.
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