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Published On: Mon, May 8th, 2017

Buhari’s ill-health: Tension heightens between North, South West



Obinna Ezugwu


After days of speculations, President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday, along with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami; the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Babagana Monguno, and other officials, attended Jumat service at the Presidential Villa.


For many Nigerians, it was reassuring to see the President who had for days, failed to make public appearance, but concerns over his health persist. In fact, it has been alleged in some quarters that Friday’s appearance was part of the ploy by the so called Aso Rock cabal to portray the President as healthy amid growing calls for him to transmit power to the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.


Last week was eventful in this regard. On Tuesday, reports emerged that Buhari had resumed work and had held a closed door meeting with Malami and the Group Managing Director, GMD of ther Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) Mailkanti Baru, both of whom confirmed the meeting while briefing State House correspondents on what transpired therein


This claim was followed up by Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife’s assertion that her husband’s ailment was not as bad as being portrayed, further giving the impression that he was good enough to continue as president.


However, a day after on Wednesday Buhari, for the fourth consecutive time, failed to attend Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. His absence immediately raised eyebrows, and many Nigerians were quick to try to connect the dots, especially coming on the heels of the report by an online medium, Sahara Reporters that Buhari was having difficulties eating. A number of those who spoke to Business Hallmark alleged that it must have been yet another ploy by the said cabal to give the impression that he was healthy.


“They want to buy time,” said Sunday Egwuda, a Lagos resident. “Even a child should know by now that the President is not well, so the claim that he had resumed duties cannot be true. It is just another of the manipulations of the Aso Rock cabal to hold on to power.”


As was perhaps expected, former Aviation Minister, and one of Buhari’s most ardent critics, Femi Fani-Kayode was one of earliest observers of this anomaly. In an essay titled “Buhari – The resurrection of corpsocracy,” the former Minister pointed out that they assured Nigerians that the President would definitely preside over the FEC meeting, but that they turned out to be false.


“Whoever is holding this poor, frail, sick and elderly man to ransom and keeping him in the Presidential Villa, probably against his will, is wicked and ungodly and he or she is committing a grave sin against God and the Nigerian people,” he said.


Noting further that “it is clear that the President is no longer fit to govern. It is obvious that his time is almost up. It is self-evident that for him the bell is tolling.”


Based on his reputation however, not many people would give taking Fani-Kayode seriously a thought, but indeed there have been revelations to the effect that there is a plot by the said cabal to hijack power from the ailing president and preempt loss of same to the vice president, a scenario already causing suspicion between the North and the South West zone.


This according to reliable sources, informed the decision to fly Buhari back to the country from London where he had been receiving treatment even though he was still not recovered.


“Buhari did not return to London when he did because he was well, far from it, he was brought home by certain individuals who felt that Osinbajo was beginning to outshine them,” a key APC figure who craved anonymity told BusinessHallmark.


“If you recall, Buhari had upon his return, suggested that the vice president would continue to act as president, but the cabal refused and made him write to the Senate the following day to say he was resuming.


“Also recall, upon his resumption, he was made to relaunch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan just to establish ownership of the plan and take the shine away from Osibanjo,” he noted.


While in London, it was gathered that the President’s doctors had advised him to take a bow from office as his health could no longer shoulder the responsibilities of being president. In effect he was said to have been advised to choose between his health and his office, but resignation was not in the agenda of the cabal. They brought him home to retake power from Osinbajo.

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Upon his return, the president admitted that he had never been this sick and thanked Nigerians for their prayers and support, but despite attempts to convince the people that he had recovered well enough to continue, the contrary is becoming obvious as the president’s public appearance is becoming increasingly rare, and concerns are mounting, especially with regard to a possible transfer of power to Osinbajo.


Already, there is an emerging deep suspicion between certain elements in the North and some individuals in the South West. In the event of Buhari relinquishing power on the account of ill-health, Osinbajo and by extension, the Yoruba stands to be the beneficiaries. But it is obvious that the cabal in Aso Rock will do anything to keep power, and nerves are already frayed.


In his submission few days ago, APC chieftain, Chief Bisi Akande alleged that there were certain individuals at the corridor of power attempting to feast on the health of Mr President in a dangerous manner, noting that their scheming does not only have the capacity to aggravate the problems between the Executive and the National Assembly, but can also drag the entire country into avoidable doom.


“The greatest danger, however, is for political interests at the corridor of power attempting to feast on the health of Mr President in a dangerous manner that may aggravate the problems between the Executive and the National Assembly without realizing if, in the end, it could drag the entire country into avoidable doom,” Akande said.


“As delicately fragile as Nigeria, so delicately fragile the democracy and the rule of laws governing the polity of the union called Nigerian Federation. Certain Nigerian leaders, having been blindfolded by corruption, assume the possibility of using money in manipulating the national security agencies to intimidate, suppress and hold down certain ethnic nationalities or playing one ethnic nationality against the other with a view to undermining the constitution and perversely upturning the rule of law.


“To avoid the ugly consequences of letting President Buhari’s ailments throw Nigeria into confusion, I am urging all Nigerians to begin to pray for his divine healing and perfect recovery.


“Let me warn today that those who wish to harvest political gains out of the health of the President are mistaken. This is not Nigeria of 1993. We are in a new national and global era of constitutionality and order. We hope Nigerians have enough patience to learn from history. My greatest fear, however, is that the country should not be allowed to slide into anarchy and disorder of a monumental proportion.”


Reading between the lines, it would seem certain that Akande is making reference to the possible plot by the said individuals to upturn the constitution and deny Osibanjo the right to ascend the presidency on the event of Buhari stepping aside. In this context, his reference to 1993, the year late MKO Abiola was denied the opportunity to rule the country after being adjudged to have won the presidential election becomes quite clear.


Akande’s allusions did not go without a word from the North. A group known as Northern Patriotic Assembly (NPA) responded in kind. In a statement signed by its President, Idakwo Jibrin and Secretary General, Alhaji Adamu Wakil and issued in Kaduna Wednesday the group accused some “Yoruba Leaders” and particularly Akande of trying to create crisis in the country through their utterances.


According to them, the APC chieftain’s remarks on Buhari’s health were part of a larger plot to plunge the country into crisis to the benefit of the Yoruba.


“Even more unnerving is situation whereby people we once held in high esteem as elders, leaders and professionals decided to descend into the mud, using President Buhari’s health as their new object of obsession,” the group said.


“They have fanatically tried to impose this obsession of theirs on other Nigerians in a desperate bid to cause panic and confusion. Sadder still is the fact that these mischief makers are people who pose as President Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party leaders, associates and friends. With this crowd of desperadoes, Mr President need not worry about the opposition, the real vipers nest is in his courtyard.


“They are the ones, who finding no avenue to corner the government to themselves, are now working day and night to use the President’s health as campaign tool to hijack the government. We want Nigerians to specifically call these people to order. They cannot be allowed to run riot with their own missions to the detriment of the rest of us. The founding Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, who spoke from two opposing directions – he urged caution about the way President Buhari’s health is discussed yet went on to describe it as a challenge to Nigeria.

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This prevarication is unbecoming of an elder statesman of his stature. He should apologize to Nigerians and stop making such unguarded utterances going forward. Akande’s role is however that of the Voice of Jacob and the Hands of Esau since it is glaring he spoke for the self appointed Yoruba Leader, Bola Tinubu, whose protégé is the next in line to benefit if President Buhari can be shoved aside on health grounds.


“This is a reckless abuse of the constitution and open provocation of the masses. We therefore tell Tinubu in clear terms to allow the nation be. The same way he could not sell the Muslim-Muslim ticket to hitch a ride as President Buhari’s deputy is the way he would not succeed in the current venture. “In what has confirmed that President Buhari’s health is being exploited as a Yoruba plot against the rest of Nigeria, APC affiliated lawyer, Chief Femi Falana, is apparently cobbling together an alliance of lawyers, commercial CSOs and paid activists to cause crisis” the statement concluded.


In the meantime, three British medical doctors were on Thursday brought in to attend to the ailing president while call for his resignation continues to gather momentum.

Speaking on Channels TV, public affairs analyst, Mr Adetokunbo Pearse, asked the President to have the decency to resign, as according to him, the issue of his health, is worse than what the general public has been made to believe.


In a statement on Tuesday, Lagos-based lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, asked the Nigerian Senate to declare the office of the president vacant and constitute a medical panel of experts to examine Buhari’s health in order to determine if he can still continue to function in office.


Adegboruwa observed that the President had not been performing his official duties on account of ill-health.

“On account purely of his ill health, the President has not been performing his official duties, he has not been able to preside over the Federal Executive Council and he has not been seen in public for about two weeks now,” he said.


Similarly, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, factional leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had advised the president to hand over to his Vice president who is fit to work and return after full recovery.


“It cannot be okay and it can never be okay. My take is that if the President is not fully fit to stay in office, it is better that he tell Nigerians, so that the Vice President will continue to be Acting President, exercising the powers of acting president,” he told news men in Abuja.


“Then you run away from this kind of situation when we allow time for the President to fully recover and assume his mantle of leadership. Me as PDP person, as a human being, I will never wish any human being ill-will, even if I disagree with you politically.”


It would also be recalled that a group of prominent Nigerians, including Femi Falana SAN, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Adetokumbo Mumuni of SERAP, Transparency International Nigeria head Anwal Musa Rafsanjani and nine others had called on him to take medical leave, amid growing concern about his health.


In a joint statement, the group pointed out that “a few weeks ago, the governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Nasir El-Rufai urged Nigerians to give President Buhari time to recover from his sickness. The plea was made after the governor had visited and presumably assessed the state of health of the president at the presidential villa in Abuja,”


“As we join the Nigerian people of goodwill to pray for a speedy recovery of President Buhari, we are compelled to advise him to heed the advice of his personal physicians by taking a rest to attend to his health without any further delay,” the group said.


In his own assertion however, the Abia State chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Rev Augustine Ehiemere warned against pushing the President into handing over power if he is not prepared to do so.


“He (Buhari) is a human being and he is alive,” he said.

“If his health cannot carry him on to deliver the kind of quality leadership that Nigerians want, he should know. He knows the right thing to do. He should not be pushed into what he is not prepared for.”


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