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President Muhammadu Buhari is no doubt making history. First, he is making history as one of the few presidents Nigeria’s had since 1999 that is making concerted effort to curb corruption and impunity in governance in Nigeria. The EFCC untiring efforts at recovering various monies being stolen or misappropriated in the past administration is all over the news. The whole world is still agog of how much alone that have been recovered from Nigeria’s former oil minister, Diezani-Alison Maduake. There is news of properties worth billions of dollars also that she has forfeited to the Federal Government. Although some Nigerians still believes that the Buhari’s administration inability to get officials that have been alleged of corruption convicted since 2015 is a proof that his anti-corruption war isn’t yielding any result.
But one cannot shy away from the fact that this administration has been able to at least to some extent, nip corruption in the bud (if not totally, but at least have gotten it reduced). The question of whether people in the present Buhari’s administration are corrupt would be made known in the process of time, but the reign and system of impunity of past administration’s ways of handling public funds has not totally been witnessed in this present administration. One may want to argue: what about the national assembly and their bogus budget? Isn’t it enough waste of this administration? Well, this will be a subject of discourse for another time.
Second, Buhari is making history as the longest absentee president Nigeria has ever had. In the history of Nigeria, no Nigerian president has ever stayed outside of his country for more than a hundred days attending to his health. Muhammadu Buhari alone has spent over 100 days at a stretch (from May 7th till now) and over 150 days in all in 2017. The closest Nigeria has had was during the late Ya’adua administration. Since the date Buhari is going to return to continue his duties as the president is yet to be known, Nigerians are beginning to question his ability to continue as the president of the country. All we hear are rhetoric from his aides and political allies that the president is in “high spirit, full of humor as usual, he misses home, will return soon etc.”
His coming home is like the biblical documentation of the Messiah’s return: No one knows the time or the hour or the day. Like a thief in the night, the Lion King shall return to take over the affairs of the kingdom, says Aisha Buhari some few weeks ago. Some Nigerians have started the resume or resign protest after 90 days of the President’s absence. Their desire is that Muhammadu Buhari either resumes or resigns from office and allows his deputy to take full responsibilities of tackling Nigeria’s numerous challenges bedeviling her progress. Although, the constitution allow him to go on leave as long as the national assembly are duly notified, and powers officially handed down to the vice president.
Section 145 (1) which states that: “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”
But a spokesperson in the resurrected opposition party (PDP) has called the Vice President a ‘figurehead’ who does not even know what to do. This assertion is far from the truth. Obviously, the acting President sure knows what to do. But this nation is a complex entity and I am sure Professor Yemi Osinbajo is only trying to thread the grounds softly. But one cannot also overrule the fact that there are issues the vice president cannot tackle headlong simply because some elements in the Buhari cabal may label him as overly ambitious and that he is probably eyeing his boss’ exalted position. The acting president no doubt has been fantastic so far, but with proper executive power (not this kangaroo power being witnessed right now as the Ag. president), he will sure change the course of this nation.
But should not common sense prevail? It is true that the president is acting according to the constitution, and that he can be away for as long as he wants to. But shouldn’t common sense prevail, and tell Mr. President that his health status can no longer serve him, and that he needs to take a bow by simply resigning. Even if Mr. President wouldn’t resign, shouldn’t Nigerians know the nature of his sickness? i am sure there is no where in the constitution that says Nigerians cannot know what exactly is wrong with their president if he falls sick. Common sense is one’s natural ability to make good judgments and to behave in a practical and sensible way. The president’s continue stay abroad is no longer sensible. If he cannot disclose his health status, he should therefore honorably resign, for the love of the country and to keep his integrity intact as he claims.
Let me conclude this short piece with Tope Oriola’s article on Muhammadu Buhari’s health from earlier this year:
“President Buhari may kindly consider several things as his health matter rages. These include whether or not he is ready to die in office to complete a tenure that by every objective indication has been underwhelming. Does the desire to remain in power supersede having more years to enjoy the company of his wife, children and grandchildren? Does he trust his largely tainted inner circle not to destroy his good name if he remains in power at an unfortunately diminished capacity? The constitution is clear on the line of succession and there should not be a constitutional crisis but is the president prepared to risk exacerbating Nigeria’s political crises if his handlers wish to have him remain in power against the advice of his doctors?
No one should ever doubt Buhari’s love for Nigeria and the zeal with which he has tried to perform his duties as president in a difficult terrain. I am fully persuaded that Buhari has been doing his best for Nigeria but ultimately his best has fallen below expectations. Love often clings to its object of affection but sometimes letting go may be the truest demonstration of love. Resignation is not always tantamount to failure. It is sometimes a dignified response to a labyrinth of events and situations one cannot control.”