OPINION: Celebrating Buhari’s 100th day outside Nigeria and our problem with history
Editor’s note: President Muhammadu Buhari ill-health has continued to form the topic of discussion among Nigerians both locally and internationally.
In an article sent to Legit.ng, Okonkwo Dubem Val, writes about President Buhari’s one hundred days outside Nigeria and why people easily forget about history
Yakubu Gowon stayed in office from 1966 to 1975. A nine years period that encompassed the horrific civil war but when he was expected to hand over power to a civilian rule, he held onto power for too long prompting the top military Generals to depose him while he was away in Kampala.
Twenty-two years later in 1997, another military General made the same mistake of holding onto power for too long when he created five political parties and made himself the presidential flag bearer of those political parties. His end was more brutal as the Nigeria political terrain had become more deadly then.
The 8th of November 1993 was a funny day, the interim government of Nigeria headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan inexplicably removed fuel subsidy and shot up the pump price by 500% from a mere 70kobo to whopping ₦3.50 which ultimately led to the collapse of his regime.
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Of course, another Nigerian president must have missed that plot when some eighteen years later on the 1st of January 2012, Nigerians woke up to a new year greeting of buying fuel for ₦150, the protests that followed that would need know reminding, but if you do Google Occupy Nigeria.
Just recently, a quiz session was held in the premier TV news channel CNN asking which president has not been in his country for over two months. The next day we used it to gist and laugh in our work places but the truth cannot be relegated, I was ashamed to see Nigeria among the options bearing fully in mind that it was the correct answer.
I like President Buhari, I was a strong adherent in his campaign given the gross mismanagement of the Jonathan era, many Nigerians I know will want to kill me for this utterance, least not for the great economic depression of 2016, but the truth must be told.
Since his assumption of office, this government has fought corruption headlong like never seen by any other administration. All the major government ministries; Federal civil service commission, Department of Petroleum Resources, Air Force, Navy, Army, Immigration, Nigerian Port Authority to name but a few have either employed massively or called for massive employments.
Let us not forget the N-Power programme that provided jobs for some 200,000 youths last year and would still provide for another 300,000 this year, and other major subsidiaries going on human investment.
That is honestly more than I can say for the previous regime where money was seriously circulating in the economy, not because of economic activities but because of wanton lootings being passed from hand to hand.
But another truth must be told, Mr. President in my humble opinion is not fit to lead, and I mean medically. Today marks the 229th day of this year and our dear President has spent just a meager 80 days in the shores of this country. The other 149 days have been spent receiving treatment in London.
He left for the second time this year on May 7th and in these 100 days, he has not for once thought it wise to address the nation, but he has constantly found time to host politicians who visit him to five star dinners in London.
We have had Governors, Senators, and Ministers visit him and they have all come back with encouraging stories as to how Mr. President is recovering and kicking like a baby but why do I not believe them; same reason you don’t believe them, they are “politicians” and that nomenclature comes with the art of telling wonderful lies.
On the 23rd of November 2009, Umaru Musa Yaradua left this country for treatment without handing over power, in the 90 days he spent outside there was lacuna.
God bless the then minister of information Prof. Dora Akunyili who took it upon herself to campaign for the installment of the Vice President on an acting level, even then it can be argued that his wings were clubbed.
Though the times are different, and Mr. President might have shown regard for the rule of law by installing his vice while leaving the country; the same tenet of clubbed wings still applies as who is ruling this country has become a major subject of argument in most Nigerian pubs.
Now you begin to question the outrageous amount of money that was spent in caring for President Yaradua while he was away, or the wife of Obasanjo and Jonathan while on medical trips, or past Heads of State who frequent abroad on medical trips.
Present and past Governors and all other government officials who have made foreign medical trips a habit and you have a large chunk of Nigeria’s budget in your hand.
I have not mentioned President Buhari because I heard his doctors in London are the ones he has been using for the past thirty years, so he is excused, but as to why he is yet to import these doctors and their technologies down here to take care of him and train our own locals’ remains a mystery to me.
After all, we import everything so I see no reason to export our President to London. Even if he returns to Nigeria sound, I think Mr. President should put his priorities into perspective, I saw Goodluck Jonathan develop waves of grey hairs within two years of becoming President.
There is a lot of pressure in ruling a country like Nigeria and the president should recognize that. At 74, and with an unstable health, would he rather spend these later years of his life wobbling the affairs of this country or would he rather do it spending time with his grandchildren in the country side, close to his farm in Daura and feeding fat from fresh vegetables and water melon.
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Nigerians wake up; our major challenge is refusal to pay attention to history, which is the moral of the story.
Abacha and Jonathan did that and that was their undoing. In 2009 we did that but a Yaradua who could not pronounce his name was brought back to us amidst light being switched off in Abuja International Airport, an episode I am never quick to forget. We cannot let that happen again, for our sake and for the sake of our President.
As we celebrate the centenary day of our President’s absence, Nigerians are filled with mixed feelings, some have called for Vice President Osibanjo to take over completely, others are solidly behind the president, a few celebrities like Charly Boy has taken it up a notch by beginning the “Our Mumu Don Do” protest; one thing is clear, the upper and lower chambers are clearly ignoring their jobs.
I wish President Buhari long life, good health and quick recovery. A lot of Nigerians around might wish him otherwise but that does not help us in anyway. And I pray him, to reconsider the seat of the Presidency when he returns in good health.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that President Muhammadu Buhari told governors of the 36 states of the country to believe in the leadership of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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Watch this Legit.ng video as Governor Ortom speaks about a visit to Buhari in London: