Much Ado About The President’s Health

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Much has been said about President Muhammadu Buhari’s health since he assumed office. Currently however, the hubbub has grown louder and more vociferous. It all began in May last year when the President cancelled a two-day visit to Lagos to inaugurate projects in the state but was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo after citing an ear infection. The following month, he travelled to the UK to seek medical attention.

A few weeks ago, following what was described as a routine medical check-up in the UK, issues of his health came to the fore once again. Irking many, the Presidency did not give any further details on the President’s health condition nor the expected date of his return. This led to the many speculations and rumours about his health status that were abound in the media.

Some have maintained that he is incapacitated; hence he is no longer fit to perform his duties as President.  Some even went as far as spreading malicious rumours of his demise, circulating divisive obituary pictures of Mr President on social media. When in the course of his stay in the UK, he asked parliament to extend his leave, elicited deepening suspicion among many Nigerians that his health was worse than his aides were letting on.

Amidst increasing rumours over the state of health of Mr President since he announced his decision to embark on this UK trip, the Presidency has had to release photographs of the President in order to allay fears of Nigerians. When the rumour that he had passed on began making rounds in the media, the Presidency released some pictures of the President watching Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, as a guest on Channels TV. Adorning a black kaftan, a black cap and relaxing on a couch in a sitting room, Mr. President looked hale and hearty.

Other photographs of Mr. President have since surfaced and since been released to the media; assuring Nigerians that that he is not incapacitated and alive. Pictures of himself and the first lady, pictures of himself and Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun and more recently, pictures of himself and the leaders of parliament have since allayed fears of his health for discerning Nigerians. However, such evidence that he is alive and well has not been enough for the mischief makers, naysayers and the rumor mongers.

Personally, I do not understand why all the fuss about the President’s health is all about. Mr. President is a public servant. And as a public servant in the public service, by law he is entitled to an annual and medical leave within the duration of his service/tenure. Under the public service rules, he followed official channels when he wrote to parliament informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

I understand with many Nigerians over their fears of Mr. President’s health which is not unconnected to the death of Umaru Yar’Adua while in office and the imbroglio of the time. It would be recalled that Mr. President’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in after the death in 2010 of Yar’Adua. His illness created a power vacuum that was filled by Jonathan, his Vice President, after months of political infighting.

Nonetheless, what we should be doing as a nation and as a people is to pray for Mr. President’s quick recovery in order to resume his duties at the helm of affairs. Ailments are a general occurrence among us humans and everyone is susceptible to it. Kings, queens, monarchs and even Presidents are not exempted from this natural occurrence. In everyone’s lifetime, young and old, we would have to succumb to one ailment or the other and seek or take medical treatment for it.

The malicious rumours that are being spread concerning the President’s health are indeed unfair. As a human being, he has the right to fall ill. As a President/public servant, he also has the right to seek medical treatment. We need to stop wishing ill of Mr. President, especially wishing for him to die. Truth be told, if Mr. President is in good health, so also would the country. Particularly, wishing President Buhari’s death is not keeping with our traditions as a deeply cultural people.

When the malicious rumours of the death of President Buhari at an unknown hospital in the UK began making rounds, I watched with a growing sense of dismay most of the reactions that trailed the rumour. While the rumours have since been dispelled, it is very disconcerting to watch many Nigerians wish President Buhari ill health & death. Despite not liking the man or his policies, or not being in the same political party, I believe we must draw the line somewhere. And the appropriate place to draw the line must be when we wish death and ill health on our President. I do not believe that such wishes are in keeping with our traditions – regardless of the ethnic groups to which we belong – or in keeping with our faiths – regardless of the God to whom we pray.

Since the President sojourn began in the UK, I have also noticed that many people have wished Mr. President ill in the name of playing opposition politics. I believe that this course of action is erroneous. Opposition politics should be about proffering credible alternatives; critiquing government policies and showing Nigerians how they can do better with similar resources; how their plans, policies and projections will improve the quality of life of the average Nigerian citizen from Lagos to Kano, Gombe to Abia, and Cross River to Kogi.

While I urge fellow Nigerians to disregard false news, rumours and subversive messages of the President’s health, we need to continue praying for him as a people to continue the work we elected him to do in 2015. Truth be told, Mr. President is no longer a young man. We knew this when we overwhelmingly elected him to become president in the last presidential polls. At 74, he is susceptible to various forms of illnesses as his antibodies have begun to perform below par. Medically, comorbidities and metabolic changes make the elderly more susceptible to various forms of infection.

I beseech every Nigerian, regardless of creed, ethnicity and political affiliation to fervently  pray for the quick recovery of our President. We should take a cue from Christians in the President’s home-state under the aegis of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and also many Christians nationwide who have embarked on fasting and prayers for Mr. President’s good health and safe return. I also urge fellow Muslim faithful nationwide, to begin and continue to offer prayers for the President’s quick recovery.

While we push for clarity on President Buhari’s health, we also need to seek God’s intervention in the nation’s quest to overcome the present insecurity in some parts of the country and the economic challenge we currently face as a nation. The President, governors and other leaders need prayers for God’s grace and wisdom to steer the affairs of the nation toward salvaging it from its present trials. In my quiet and private time, I would be saying prayers for the quick recovery and safe return of our dear President. I hope you will also do likewise…

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