[Analyses]–It is no longer news that Nigeria has an ailing President. This explains why there have been concerns in most quarters about the leadership vacuum in one of Africa’s largest economies. Notwithstanding, one seriously struggles to see how a nation can be so endowed with natural resources and large untapped revenue potentials from other sectors, yet struggles to pull herself out of recession. Little wonder Nigeria has been diagnosed of suffering from resource curse, the Dutch Disease and more recently, the Nigerian Disease.
Amidst this turn of events is the concern expressed by the likes of Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Junaid Mohammed and even the President’s wife, Mrs Aisha Buhari that a cabal has taken over the government from President Buhari.
Raising serious concerns, Mr Junaid Mohammed is reported to have said in unequivocal words: “The cabal under Buhari has virtually taken over the affairs of the country from him…a situation that is very dangerous for the Nigerian people and their future.”
As it if the foregoing reports were not enough, the National Assembly, the very arm of Government that ought to act as a watch-dog and perform oversight functions on the executive would appear to have slept on its watch and become the mockery of all.
Little wonder the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, recently called the bluff of the Upper Chambers of the National Assembly and questioned its power to summon him.
Whilst the learned Professor of Law is reported to have tagged the Senate ‘childish and irresponsible,’ one may not be too far from the truth to assert our lawmakers have become famous for playing to the gallery by seeking cheap popularity over mundane and trivial issues, picking the wrong fights and abandoned their primary duty.
A good example of this abandonment of its primary obligation is the failure, refusal or neglect of the National Assembly to pass the 2017 Appropriations Bill into law, the 2016 budget having expired on 5 May 2017, exactly a year after the 2016 Appropriations Act was assented to by President Buhari.
Coming to kernel of this article, Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Media Adviser to President Buhari, in a statement released on Sunday, 5 May 2017, reported that President Buhari was scheduled to travel to London yesternight for “follow-up medical consultation with his doctors.” According to Mr Adesina, “Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President. President Buhari has transmitted letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.”
Similarly, in a video made and statement made available by President Buhari himself, he stated that he had already hinted that there might be a need to return to London soon, for a follow-up medical consultation, given his medical condition. President Buhari further stated that he had sent the required letters regarding his trip to the National Assembly, in accordance with Section 145(1) of the 1999 Constitution. He concluded by saying that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN will take charge in his absence and that “the government will continue to function smoothly and efficiently.”
Now, I come to the crux of this article. One needs no soothsayer to the come to the realisation that President is gravely ill and that his illness has seriously affected his ability to carry out the heavy demands associated with the office of the President. This much is evident in: (a) admission that he has never been “so sick” as he has been in recent times; (b) missing the federal executive cabinet meeting three times in a row; and (c) uncertainty as to when he will be declared fit by his doctors.
In sane(r) societies, patriotic and responsible public office holders do not hold the nation to ransom, attempt to ‘die in the office’ as soon as they see their ailing health as a huge challenge and impediment to discharging their constitutional duties. In such societies, such ailing public office holders take the most honourable route and do the most sensible thing one would expect in such circumstance. A good example is seen in the recent case of Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Jose Serra, who honourably resigned from his position as the Brazilian Foreign Minister, in order to attend of his health and be properly treated for his ailment. After all, health comes before wealth and heath should come before anything else. For a healthy public office holder makes a healthy nation.
If President Buhari truly has the interest of the nation at heart and is genuinely interested in attending to his health challenges, it is not enough for him to keep hiding under the disguise of Section 145 of the Nigerian Constitution to hold on to power, at the detriment of holding the entire nation to ransom, to the pleasure of the cabal, who have since hijacked the government, if the reports by the trio of Mrs Aisha Buhari, Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce and Junaid Mohammed are anything to go by. The heavens forbid that Nigeria has a repeat of what happened to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. The time is NOW to do what is right!
If truly President Buhari is the same man elected to the office by millions of Nigerians, who believed in his “Change Begins With Me” agenda, then it is time President Buhari took the most honourable route out of power, by leaving the stage when it is still the loudest. A resignation, on account of his ailing health, will be a victory for democracy, good governance and his “Change Begins With Me” campaign.
There is no gainsaying the fact that President Buhari has the sympathy of Nigerians and even our prayers to get well, including our religious leaders as recently exemplified by Pastor Enoch Adeboye. However, we need not go further to tell President Buhari that this is the best we can do. Anything more will be trying the patience of Nigerians which has long exhausted by President Buhari’s late and slow performance, far from that which he promised the electorate during his pre-election campaigns that ushered him to the most exalted office in the land.
Hence, it is time President Buhari considered completely stepping aside to attend his medical needs, if he is genuinely interested in protecting our nascent democracy, deliver the dividends of democracy and restore the glory of our dearly beloved nation, whilst allowing the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a seemly capable hand, to take full time responsibility for the affairs of our nation for the remainder of the tenure. Indeed, President Buhari will do well to resign at this point for it is extremely doubtful President Buhari is able to steer the nation’s ship to the desired destination, given his ailing health.
Should President Buhari, however, fail to heed to the foregoing advice, it will very helpful for him to consider the wise counsel of Junaid Mohammed, an elder statesman and Second Republic lawmaker, who is credited to have advised President Buhari to bury the thought of going for a second term because Nigerians are already tired of his failed leadership and would not re-elect him.
For his own health, good living and posterity, let’s hope President Buhari will allow wise counsel prevail and do the needful timeously.
Note: This publication represents only the personal views of the author and is provided to highlight issues as well as for general information purposes only. Whilst reasonable steps were taken to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this publication, the author does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this publication
About the Author
Joseph Onele, graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Ibadan, where he was a recipient of the Federal Government Scholarship and Chevron National Merit Award for Academic Excellence as well as host of other prizes and scholarships.
Having been called to the Nigerian Bar as both a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Joseph currently works as a Legal Practitioner with the leading African Law Firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP; https://ng.linkedin.com/in/josephonelePlease Follow Us @ThePageNg