President is holding the country to ransom
President Buhari has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017 alone.
The duly elected president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, has been away from the country since May 7, after departing to London for his second medical leave of the year.
Nobody knows what is wrong with the president. Nobody knows where the president really is. Or if he'll ever be fit enough to resume his duties.
A conspiracy of silence has been woven around the president's state of health that it's hard to ignore rumours that it is a dire one.
Recently, Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose, never one to shy away from unguarded remarks, declared that the president has been on a life support machine since June 6.
This spurious claim is just another in a long line of unsubstantiated narratives surrounding the president's actual state of health.
At some point, the rumour mill was spinning tales about how the president was already dead.
It's hard to knock out these claims because, with its deafening silence, the president's team has created a blank canvas for anyone to paint any story.
Ever since the president of the country has holed up in London, he's had a single direct interaction with the 'Nigerian' people: an audio recording that addressed the Eid-el Fitr celebration by the country's Muslim population.
This was a problem for a whole lot of reasons.
Only days prior to the emergence of that tape, Sahara Reporters had claimed that the president had suffered from a speech impairment.
If we pretend for a second that this is a nation that doesn't function abnormally, this is clearly a claim that, if true, could constitutionally render Buhari incompetent to ever resume his duties as president.
So when an audio recording of the president emerged only days later, it was clearly desperately exploiting the occasion to indirectly redirect the discourse, which it did, albeit, poorly.
The dubiousness of the tape aside, Buhari addressed the country on the theme of unity while he spoke exclusively in Hausa, a language that automatically alienates half of the country's population that isn't the president's kin.
This was another powder keg that set tongues wagging at the president's insensitivity to the Nigerian population, and it is surprising that the tape went through more than one person on the president's team without a single one saying, "Hey guys, maybe we should take a minute to talk about this."
The woeful execution of that tape is just another in the president's long history of throwing distractions into the wind since he was sworn in.
It was recently claimed that the presidential aircraft parked in London to serve the 'ailing' president was raking up an outrageous bill for the country's pocket and constituted wasteful spending on the president's part.
Just the next day, the president's spokesman, Garba Shehu, released a statement saying it only cost a fraction of the figure being bandied about and asked that rumour mongers stop being mischievous with the truth.
This writer understands how (some) presidential protocols work and agrees that no matter what it costs, the commander in chief of any country commands that sort privilege for very obvious reasons. That's not the problem here.
What's worrisome here is that Buhari's team decided to reply to this, at best, social media distraction above many other significant issues. This is the same as the audio being a response to claims of the president suffering from speech impairment.
The president's team can't seem to be able to allow accusations against the president's integrity or his health status lie.
However, they have questionably dodged the most important issue of all; what is up with the president's health.
Buhari's team has doused every fire that's come near him since May 7, it stands out that the only one they have neglected to answer is the one that informs the Nigerian people about what exactly is wrong with the president.
Will they be triggered enough to respond to allegations of the president's perceived wastefulness? Yes.
Will they craftily, and poorly, respond to allegations of the president losing his ability to speak properly? Yes.
But will they be bothered enough to provide a proper insight into what is the actual problem with the president? LOL.
It appears the reason behind this refusal is they believe since Buhari temporarily transferred power to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, his campaign promise of transparency is suddenly on pause.
When Buhari was elected President of the country, it wasn't because he was the best person this country could produce to drive it away from Goodluck Jonathan's chaotic administration; Buhari was elected because he was the most realistic candidate to exploit the country's ethnically-tainted climate and defeat the incumbent at the time.
This is why, when the opposition came around with claims about Buhari's poor health, nobody listened.
Not because we didn't believe it or already know it ourselves, but because we were hopeful and ready to gamble on him anyway because the electorate needed to send a clear message at the time.
That our gamble hasn't paid off is not necessarily something to regret, but it's hurtful that Buhari's team is deliberately sidestepping history here and making the same mistakes over and again.
This ill absent president situation undoubtedly draws parallel to late President Umaru Musa Yar'adua's very similar situation that ended in tragedy only seven years ago.
And what makes this particular one even more duplicitous and hypocritical is that President Buhari was one of the most vocal critics at the time, demanding that Yar’adua make his health issues public or vacate the presidency. Life comes at you fast.
The president is 74, no one realistically expected him to be the paragon of complete health; but honesty on his condition would be a nice gesture, if not a presidential protocol.
Even though the handling of this situation, especially with the transfer of power, has been better than Yar'adua's situation was, it is still not a good spot for the country to be trapped in.
The president has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017. That's an attendance record no school student will show their parents at home without expecting to be spanked.
The truth is, despite the impressive work that Osinbajo has done in his stint as Acting President, the looming shadow of Buhari is a dark cloud hanging over the progress of the country.
And while the Senate busies itself with idle talks and petty squabbling with the presidency over what power it wields, the average Nigerian wants to log out of this unbearably docile matrix.
The next time, if ever, the president is thinking about recording a voice note, he might want to update us on what the state of his health is.
And this time, maybe do it in a language we all understand.
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