Imminent Return of the President

There is every hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will return to the country in the next few days. He may return to continue convalescing or receiving treatment at home. His ability to continue to discharge his duties as president effectively, on his return, may be uncertain, but many of us will not like to see him resign. Within the 18 months left of his administration, he should continue to provide the father figure needed to recover looted pubic funds.

Only bad luck is to blame for our present predicament. Buhari has not chosen to fall sick at this time; if he had got a hint of this kind of sickness before 2015, he’s not likely to have contested election again. Now, ill-health has not allowed him to work since January this year. He returned on March 10, after 50 days in London, but he never really took charge of his office before he went back on May 7. After more than 100 days on medical vacation abroad at a stretch, however, Buhari should show appreciation for the prayers Nigerians have said for his recovery.

Apparently, the sickness came much earlier than January this year – perhaps it manifested in the first few months of his regime. For this is not the Buhari we knew and voted for.  And maybe it was the ailment that caused the several missteps he took: waiting six months to appoint lacklustre ministers, lop-sidedness in his appointments, lack of attention to the economy, poor implementation of IPPIS, and others. A “cabal” must have hijacked Buhari earlier than we thought or the time his wife Aisha raised the alarm.

A soldier’s word should be his bond. The Buhari we knew always kept his word. But this Buhari seems different. The first lie noticeable in his inaugural address could have been inserted by the cabal: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”.  The real Buhari had to later confess that he should not be expected to treat those who gave him 97% the same way he would those who gave him 5%.

Under Buhari, Nigeria’s economy has nosedived. Many have died or are dying of hunger, but their leader has yet to show pity or confess that he’s helpless. Buhari, the face of anti-corruption fight, has not seen the corruption in allowing a privileged few (likely members of the cabal) to source foreign exchange from the Central Bank of Nigeria at low rates and thus make billions overnight by reselling dollars and pounds at the parallel market.

The contradictions have been endless. Just last year, he said that no public official should seek medical care abroad for an ailment that could be treated in Nigeria. What’s worrying him now that can’t be treated by Nigerian doctors in Nigeria? Given the right equipment (which could be imported), Nigerian doctors can provide the best medical care for their president. This same president preached against parents sending their wards abroad for schooling, yet all his children school(ed) abroad.  When President Umaru Yar’Adua was in a condition similar to his current state, in 2010, Buhari advised him to resign and urged the Senate to impeach him if he didn’t.

The Buhari we knew would have since returned to continue receiving medical attention in his country or would have gladly thrown in the towel. If he were in a position to hold FEC meetings, he would have come home before agitations for “resume or resign” reached this crescendo.

We’re therefore at the mercy of people we didn’t elect to govern us. And they’re not in a hurry to let him go. So long as they will continue to have free access to the treasury, so long will they continue to play politics with Nigeria’s future.

Only Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has the power to liberate Nigerians from the cabal’s grip, as I stated in an earlier article. Once he discovers that Buhari no longer has the capacity to lead, he Osinbajo should cast all emotions aside and act, before Nigeria reaches a point of no-return. As acting president, he has the full powers of a president. He can choose to sack all of Buhari’s appointees in one fell swoop! After all, cabinet reshuffle is long overdue; Buhari would have done it by May or June if he were hale and hearty.

Those who still issue statements on behalf of Buhari undermine the authority of the acting president. Buhari has ceded powers to Osinbajo and there can only be one president at a time. Special advisers and special assistants to the president ought to be redundant until Buhari returns to office. They have no right to take instructions from a cabal.

When Buhari returns, he should seek to RESTRUCTURE Nigeria immediately. There should be no general election until we get our constitution right. If he doesn’t reform our politics, another set of looters (whether from the PDP or APC) will surely seize power by 2019. And the new regime will likely reverse the one or two things he has achieved. Just as the military regime that ousted him in 1985 did, it might return all assets seized from looters with apologies.


For New Yam festival

This column will be going on break because I will be celebrating this year’s New Yam festival with my people. The women in most churches are celebrating “August Return” too. For children enjoying the long holiday, it’s also time to know their roots in the village.

I hope no one will misinterpret my decision to go home for the New Yam festival at this time. I’m not fleeing “the north” or obeying the “quit notice” issued by some miscreants or the hate song circulated by riffraff. In any case, I don’t live in their “north”. Leaders of the middle belt and Abuja have since given a contrary directive to their brothers and sisters from the east. And, really, can any Nigerian town survive without Ndigbo residents?

Ndigbo who live in the “core north” have no cause to fear. But they shouldn’t fail to observe the New Yam festival that most communities in the east celebrate between August and October each year. They shouldn’t listen to IPOB or anyone asking them to leave the “north” either. It’s not that easy to relocate! Just go on vacation like me and return in October or later. Besides, there’s the additional lesson to invest in your home state before investing in your host state.

We’re not cowards. In August 1993, many of us did not leave Lagos or Ibadan because of the June 12 crisis. Those who did merely wanted the west to fight its battle alone. However, anyone who fled in 1993 or flees now should not be branded a coward. In 1966, those who ignored hate songs and hate attitudes in the north fell victims to the pogroms.


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