Where is the President?

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ONE question that could provoke a major national crisis is any one about the whereabouts of President MuhammaduBuhari. It is a question that one cannot even explain along the lines of being sympathetic to the President. We should not ask. We should imagine that the President is fine because some imagine and tell us so.

NOTHJING in the situation is more intolerable, some would add scandalous, than the circus that the President’s men have made of the office. We are told that the President was ill, he was recovering, he would soon assume his duties. We are told of his concerns about things being run properly in his absence.

WE wish him well. We pray for him. We are, however, not allowed to know the nature of his illness. We are only told to pray harder, which creates the impression that his slow recovery could be from the paucity of our prayers. Those who so believe, pray more.

THERE are no bulletins on the pace of his recovery. We are not sure of the things that we are told. The momentary statements that the President supposedly makes on critical national issues add to the mystique about what is going on with the man who millions of Nigerians voted for in the now withered hope that he would improve their lives.

CHANGE, they were told, meant improvements in the lives of Nigerians–across tribes, tongues, religions and regions. Before their eyes, change meant none of the things that took their votes. Change became a President who was promoted above human frailties.

HE was incorruptible. He loved Nigeria more other Nigerians. His patriotism was one of the major reasons that he should occupy the seat. The anti-corruption din has lessened in his absence, meaning that he was possibly the only one who thought that corruption was an issue with Nigeria.

THE narrow definitions of corruption, the narrower declensions of corruption to mainly non-party members, and the morasses that the government ran into with its decisions, told Nigerians early enough that there were major mistakes in choosing the President. More were to come, from appointments to intra-party frays that became persistent.

IT was obvious that no central authority controlled the ruling All Progressives congress (APC). Key party chiefs led their factions, catered for their followers, and tore the federation into shreds as they contested for appointments into positions that they expected would be their link to the paradise that the party promised Nigerians. The frustrations grew as more party members were excluded from the opportunities that running an open government would have generated.

THE President was ill. Many said they knew, but that he was the only chance that Nigeria had of being saved from the brink—one man, indeed, the only man that could save a country. Many became converts and led Nigeria to the stalemate that it is gradually settling into–gleefully.

WHERE is the President that, in the past three months, he has not addressed Nigerians, directly, as a leader should? Why is he not talking to Nigerians, the people he should account to, since they elected him? The same people that he went round the country asking for their mandate cannot ask where he is.

THE last time that he spoke to Nigerians, he sectionalised country by rendering a religious festival message in Hausa. There were converts to that religion who are not Hausa. Some tried to defend it. One of the most ridiculous defences was that he made the statement in his private capacity.

MORE ridiculous things have happened since then. Each time voices demanding the President’s presence rise, the official response is heightened activities that range from vague promises that he would “soon” return, to desperate efforts to prove that the President was well but that his doctors were keeping him from returning to his duties.

NOW it is a circus. In the past few weeks, different delegations of Nigerian politicians have visited the President in London. There have been no dissenting views about his health, in what appears to be a pantomime. What purpose do these visits serve? What about the drain on the damaged economy?

THE smiles of the elect, those who are privileged to visit the President in London, including the acting President, show their determination to reduce Nigeria to a country of clowns. Was the President elected to be London-based? How do the trips to London serve Nigerians?

WE have obviously gone beyond the morality of a man who promised to ban trips for foreign medical trips, since he would build modern hospitals in Nigeria, making frequent medical trips to London. We have also been told that the President’s illness was his personal matter. Those peddling that perfidy know that the Constitution is clear that he could be removed from office, if he is medically incapacitated.

IT is anathema to ask about his health, or suggest that the country should carry on fully, by allowing the acting President work with the full capacities of the office. When he signed the budget, the President’s handlers made the point of announcing that the acting President only signed because the President had granted his permission.

WHAT kind of country are we that we could go through this dark tunnel, carrying neither about our present nor the future? Are we concerned about the precedents that are being set with the constitutional violations of the President being away for more than three months, without any of the processes of evaluating his capacity to remain in office being evaluated?

LAST week, the country was suspended as news filtered in that the President was on his way home. Nobody is sure where he is, no official statements anyone on him, except his condemnation of Sunday’s killing at a church in Ozubulu.

NIGERIA has run out of time for searching for the President. The National Assembly has kept the charade for more than any permissible time. It should act and save Nigeria further embarrassment by a few, who have overplayed their importance about the security and welfare of Nigeria, which the Constitution in Section 14 (2) b says is the primary purpose of government.

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