Whether President Muhammadu Buhari has been irrevocably hobbled by ill health or he is sound in body and mind and prancing around in the Abuja House in London is a puzzle that would not be unravelled until he returns home.
Even if all the state governors, the officials of the presidency and political parties travel to London and return with the verdict that Buhari exudes great health and a stellar sense of humour that belies the stern stuff he is made of, this would make no difference to Nigerians. Let Buhari write again to his Guinean counterpart that he is well and that he would soon return to Nigeria to assume the responsibilities he has abandoned for months, this would not still douse Nigerians’ doubts. They would maintain the skepticism that Buhari is yet to recover from his debilitating sickness that has kept him away from Aso Rock.
This cynicism is well founded. The officials of government have so much lost the citizens’ good will that they cannot be trusted. Remember? It was the same way that politicians and even clerics visited the late President Musa Yar’Adua but when they returned they did not tell Nigerians that he was incapacitated. It was only the then Minister of Information, the late Dora Akunyili who had the courage to shed off the carapace of propaganda for Nigerians to be confronted with the reality: the truth that the health of their president was beyond recovery. Yes, we take cognisance of the fact that a glaring misalignment of the creeds and deeds of politicians, especially the ones in these climes, oftentimes makes trusting them as amounting to self-immolation.
But the politicians of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have taken this vice of unreliability to an intolerable height. How does one expect the citizens to believe politicians of the APC hue when to the amazement of Nigerians they have disavowed the promises they made during electioneering? It was the same party that promised restructuring that has now dismissed it as unthinkable. It is thus not surprising when we see the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed engages in futile attempts to portray the president as having recovered from his affliction. When he strove on a national television programme to tell Nigerians that Buhari was no longer sick, he only succeeded in confirming the suspicion of the citizens that he is afflicted with a pathology of lying that he has not bothered to cure himself of. Or how do we explain a situation where Mohammed said that he had neither seen nor spoken to the president since he travelled yet he was so sure that he was not as sick as suggested by some Nigerians?
It was in the same mould of politicians hectoring the citizens to accept canards as the ultimate truths that a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, who defected to the APC from his All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) last year, declared that he had seen Buhari in London. He further declared that the president would soon return to Nigerians.Indeed, Kalu mentioned June 11, 2017 as the specific date that Buhari would return. But Nigerians who had been eager to see their president return home were disappointed when he did not come back from London. Up till now, Kalu has not found the decency to apologise to Nigerians for misinforming them.And without his offering any explanation, he left the citizens with the impression that he might not have even seen Buhari; he might just have spoken the way he did to announce his new-found closeness to the president, hoping that this would intimidate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and make it to relax its hunt for him over the corruption charges against him.
Thus, it is only those who visit Buhari and the president who gladly receive them who know the real reasons for which they go to London. It is not because they want to allay the fear of Nigerians that the president has been incapacitated that they return from London with the news that the president’s mental faculties are intact. For if this were their real motive, they should have gone the whole hog of not leaving room for the citizens to doubt their sincerity. In this regard, the visit of the APC leaders and governors to Buhari has only confirmed their ulterior motive. For they ignored the opportunity of dispelling all doubts. They left room for doubts by circulating only a single photograph of the meeting where a healthy Buhari was lavishly dining and wining with his Nigerian visitors. Knowing that they would prove to Nigerians at home that Buhari is alive, they should have taken more photographs of the meeting and equally videoed the event to effectively silence the increasing band of traducers.
Not even the latest visit involving two governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would make Nigerians to believe them when they return with the inevitable verdict that Buahri is alive and well. In this case, it is not only the ordinary citizens who doubt their sincerity. Other governors of the PDP are equally skeptical that their colleagues can be relied on. They wonder why Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel and his Ebonyi State counterpart Dave Umahi should be the ones to go to London. When they say that they know themselves, it is a way of implying that some of them cannot be entrusted with such a responsibility and be expected to be loyal to the truth in the face of pressure to say what clearly negates their conscience. Umahi even has more credibility problems as he is alleged to be mulling defection to the APC. Obviously, the skeptical governors of PDP and other citizens would not have raised any objection if Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose were among the governors from the opposition party. After all, all these visits and attempts to prove that Buhari is alive were triggered by Fayose’s consistent position that Buhari’s ill health has so rendered him vegetative that he cannot function as president when he returns from London.
If Buhari is as healthy as to exchange banters as his associates and those who visit him want Nigerians to believe, then he has demonstrated egregious disdain for the citizens by his not really deeming it necessary to assure the public at home that he has recovered from his sickness. Buhari’s stay in London is being paid for with the funds of the poverty-ravaged Nigerian citizens who are doomed to using the poor medical facilities that he has failed to fix at home. The citizens have been praying for him. They have waited patiently for him to get well and return home in the face of his medical sojourn that has left many issues about the wellbeing of the citizens unattended to as the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo does not enjoy full presidential powers to take decisions for the good of the country.
Buhari owes them the assurance that he appreciates their patience and goodwill to him. If really he is well and his doctors advised him against returning to the country now, he should have simply addressed the citizens on television to assure them of his recuperation. Buhari does not enjoy the prerogative of choosing the medium of telling Nigerians the state of his health as his spokesman Femi Adeshina who has not seen the president like other Nigerians would like the citizens to believe.
Now that information about Buhari’s health has been smeared with noxious spoof in such a measure that we do not even know what ails him and whether he is actually recuperating or he has become irretrievably vegetative, Nigerians at home would not accept the reports of the endless visitors to London. Buhari can only prove to the citizens his so much-advertised good health by returning home to assume his office and save them the national embarrassment of Nigerian officials turning London into a newfangled tourist delight on account of him.