The second term ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari may have run into troubled waters due to massive opposition and a health challenge that has become a recurring decimal in his three year sojourn as a democratic president of Nigeria. Currently, Buhari is in London for a “Working” medical checkup-if the Special Adviser to the President, Eta Enang is to be believed-after attending ward congresses in Daura, his home town. It was rumored that during his last visit to the United States, due to rigorous drilling by his handlers to prevent another presidential goof, his sick aged system could not take stress and there was alleged to be a system collapse. He was said to have been adversely affected, and they had to rush him back to London for treatment. Sources indicate that he was advised to stay back for proper treatment but he insisted on coming back for the party congress in Daura. This was said to have sparked outrage within his kitchen cabinet as some believed he is being over stretched and may not survive the rigors of Presidential campaign. But others, whose political survival depend on his re election are said to be adamant.
Buhari’s travel back to the United Kingdom has sparked controversies within the polity. While the Presidency insists that he does not need to transmit any letter to the National Assembly before going, critics are saying otherwise. Particularly critical of the trip is Kola Ologbondiyan, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, spokesperson. “We have nothing against Mr. President’s decision to take care of his ailing health as we are all subject to human frailties, (but) Nigerians detest the deception, lies and beguiling that had trailed the handling of his unabating health issue.”, he said. “Moreover, it is unfortunate that President Buhari would always embark on medical tourism abroad when his administration has completely refused to address the poor state of the health sector in Nigeria, for which medical personnel are currently on strike across the nation.”
Resident doctors have been on strike due to poor conditions of service, which appears t be ignored by the presidency while Buhari jets out to take care of his own health. And despite enormous budgetary allocations, the Aso Rock clinic is bereft of basic medical equipment and drugs, raising questions on what the authorities have done with the allocations. It appears that nobody has even been queried raising doubts about the much touted anti corruption fight of the presidency.
Like the previous trip to London for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meetings, CHOGM, this trip has a departure date but only a tentative arrival date. Even then, he was also rumored to have gone to London ahead of the meeting to see his doctors.
Despite all these, killings continue unabated in the North east of the country where government seems helpless to tackle the security situation, one of their cardinal campaign promises. The government has been having a running battle with International Organizations that tend not to align with the propaganda being dished out by the presidency. Only recently, the World Bank has faulted the country, saying that Boko Haram is far from defeated.
It appears that most of the current defenders of the Buhari presidency are those who are making a living out of it or those who are part of the government.
With the level of opposition currently faced by the Presidency, Buhari seem to link his confidence with the fact that, contrary to federal character, he surrounded himself with nuclear family members and close associates, who never were part of those that brought him to power. All security Agencies are occupied by one acolyte or the order. Even the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Director of Operations is said to be his niece.
With all these criticisms, Buhari health issues tops the political discourse, with many believing he should go and take care of his health and forget about Presidency. Ologbondiyan appears to have put it succinctly: “We urge the Presidency to note that shrouding the issue of President Buhari’s illness in secrecy, just for political gains, is neither in the interest of the President nor that of our nation at large. Sordidly, the handlers of Mr. President appear to be more concerned about the next election instead of the consequences of a failing health and the blatant breaches of our constitution. The PDP therefore counsels President Buhari to be well guided and take charge of his health challenges. It is however very unfortunate that the President and his handlers had chosen to shroud the issue of his persistent illness in secrecy under a government that prides itself on claims of transparency and integrity”.