* …Storm over the president’s ill health
‘We should all know that the person on a sick bed does not necessarily have to be the next person to die’
“The call for resignation is unfair. It is not just unfair, it is mischievous, politically mischievous. Who is casting the first stone?”, Oshiomhole, a top member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, at the federal level, told Sunday Vanguard, yesterday evening.
The health of the President has generated interest across the country since he travelled to London early in the year on medical vacation and returned only to seldomly appear in public.
After skipping three Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings in a row, thus triggering anxiety that his health issues had taken a turn for the worse, Buhari attended jumat service at the Presidential Villa mosque on Friday.
Asked to comment on the demand by some Nigerians that the President should quit and attend fully to his health issues, yesterday, Oshiomhole said Buhari had shown uncommon commitment to transparency and disclosure by admitting that he is sick.
“You see sometimes people want to eat their cake and have it. The truth as I believe and I say it, not as a political statement that President Muhammadu Buhari has shown uncommon level of commitment to transparency and disclosure by admitting that he is sick and you say you want to compare what happened under PDP in 2010 to what is happening now; you would see there is a huge world of difference. Then, there were stories as to who signed budget. Was budget signed in Saudi Arabia or was it signed in Abuja, Nigeria? What type of conversation is that? I think this time there is greater transparency”, the former governor said.
“Secondly, the president said I was going for treatment and, unlike PDP, this President recognises the spirit and the letter of the constitution. In drafting the constitution, the people understood that a President can fall ill or find himself in a situation that he is completely incapacitated and he can’t work.
“During this period he should appoint his vice to act. Now, this President without being compelled, without anybody organising protest, without anybody writing an editorial, through his own ink and pen, wrote to the National Assembly; ‘I am unwell and I am going for a medical check up on my health, but while I am away the Vice President should act in line with the provision of the constitution. That is a huge world of difference. Remember the whole debate whether or not Jonathan should act, whether they can pronounce him as Acting President. Now President Buhari came back after some weeks and said I am back but even now, the VP should still act because I still need 2 or 3 days to rest. How much more transparency can we expect?
“And as envisaged by the constitution, the Vice President is playing his part and the constitution also said very clearly that the President can delegate the Vice President to do anything he wishes him to do and that he is doing. I haven’t seen any commentator who says that the VP isn’t being empowered to do certain things. In fact, I hear people say that the VP is being directed and he’s doing well. How much more can the President disclose? Is there anything happening now that isn’t constitutional? No! And when the President came back, he said at a later date I will still go back and he said all my life I have never been this sick, that I went through X, Y, Z. How much more can a leader disclose to his people?
“And then I see people say publish your health, publish this, publish that; you as a reporter, do you publish your medical result and report? Yes I agree that public office requires accountability. No doubt. But which comes first, the health of Mr. President or the need to publish. Which of the governors has published what he spends when he goes for medical check up? Like I told someone, as governor of Edo State, I appropriated public funds to support indigent Edo persons and in fact two or three more Edo persons who, on the strength of Nigerian doctors’ recommendations, I sponsored their trip to India and UK to attend to some surgeries at public expense. Even the ordinary Nigerian, anybody can fall ill. Now, the call for resignation is unfair. It is not just unfair, it is mischievous; a political mischief. Who is casting the first stone? We have seen situations where some governors would disappear for a month or two for medical treatment without handing over to their deputies. We once had a governor who did not handover to his deputy despite incapacitation. We also had a governor who completed his two terms of four years each, but who never handed over to his deputy whenever he travelled for medicals no matter how long it took. In some states, Exco meetings are not held for a month, if the governor cannot sit, the Exco is postponed. But here is a man who says my Vice go ahead and chair the meeting. That also related to the quality of the Vice”
Speaking specifically about the sudden re-appearance of President Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa Mosque on Friday, Oshiuomhole explained: “I’ve heard people talk as if they are happy that the President is ill. That is not fair. That is wicked. Having come out yesterday (Friday), that has given a lie to all those who have been spreading all manner of falsehood, that he cannot eat, that he is fed through tube, that he is in a vegetative state; the man people saw yesterday is recovering and recovering well, contrary to the rumours and lies. He not only came out and walked with his legs, he went to the mosque to pray and walked back to his abode. What we owe our leaders is prayers and not rumours. We should all know that the person on a sick bed does not necessarily have to be the next person to die.
“We should all learn from history. We should remember the story of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Great Zik. People said he had died. Newspapers published the story and wrote about the man and some people attempted to make political capital out of Azikiwe’s alleged death – ‘oh, a big tree has fallen’; lots of editorials about the man. Meanwhile the man read everything.
“He came out and said he is alive and well. And he added that all those that have wished him dead would die before him. And one after the other, they all died while Zik was alive. That is a big lesson for all those wishing Mr. President ill. We all must know that Nigeria’s stability requires that people elected and holding elective offices must be prayed for, so that they can complete the office successfully.”