Con­cern over Buhari’s lat­est for­eign trip

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - With Mon­ima Dam­inabo email: monidams@ya­ 0805 9252424 (sms only)

Un­mis­tak­ably, the cir­cum­stance of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari trav­el­ing abroad for his an­nual leave and in all like­li­hood adding a visit to his doc­tors dur­ing the trip is stir­ring rip­ples across the coun­try. Since the Pres­i­dency an­nounced that the Nige­rian leader would travel to Lon­don within the first week of April (last week), and which is sev­eral days ahead of the forth­com­ing ( 16th -20th 2018), Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment Meet­ing (CHOGM) in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal, mixed re­ac­tions have trailed the de­vel­op­ment. While some have ex­pressed sol­i­dar­ity and even sym­pa­thy with Buhari over a likely re­turn to hos­pi­tal, oth­ers have treated the de­vel­op­ment with ridicule as if the gen­tle­man is like a ca­nary bird in a cage whose move­ment out­side the cage should qual­ify as an anom­aly. Even the op­po­si­tion Peo­ple Demo­cratic Party (PDP) has through the at­tacks by its Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary Kola Olog­bondiyan, lived up to the role of ex­co­ri­a­torin-chief to all that is as­so­ci­ated with Buhari, and has seem­ingly thrown its en­tire pub­lic­ity ma­chin­ery into the en­ter­prise of vi­ti­at­ing the im­port of the Pres­i­dent’s for­eign trip at this time.

Mean­while the Pres­i­dency has also not helped mat­ters as it had cast a shield of se­crecy over even the safe-to-re­veal de­tails of the trip for the Nige­rian public, thereby deep­en­ing public con­cern over the en­tire ex­er­cise. As a re­sult, wild spec­u­la­tions have trailed the ex­er­cise with ev­ery as­pect - no mat­ter how mun­dane, suf­fer­ing from a twist out of con­text. For in­stance even the tim­ing of the trip as be­ing sev­eral days ahead of the CHOGM, has spawned wild spec­u­la­tions about the im­mi­nence of some­thing un­to­ward about the Pres­i­dent’s wel­fare. The am­bi­ence of con­cern and at­ten­dant in­sin­u­a­tions can there­fore be ex­cused given the rather poor show the Pres­i­dency made of pre­vi­ous trips by the Pres­i­dent.

Or­di­nar­ily it should not be a big is­sue that the Pres­i­dent is trav­el­ling to Lon­don eve if it is purely for med­i­cal rea­sons. Any per­son who has been fol­low­ing the cir­cum­stances of Pres­i­dent Buhari’s ten­ure, will eas­ily ap­pre­ci­ate that his travel to Lon­don at any time for now, sug­gest that no mat­ter what­ever en­gage­ment he may have there, a visit to his doc­tors can­not be ruled out. Was it not in the same Lon­don he spent sev­eral weeks in hos­pi­tal by this time last year for health chal­lenges that pre­dis­posed him needy of spe­cial­ized rou­tine checkup af­ter­wards? Hence, just in case se­crecy re­mains an of­fi­cial ele­ment in the man­age­ment of his case by the Pres­i­dency, such is as cap­tured in the African proverb that “one can­not hide preg­nancy for­ever”. Sooner than later the se­cret could even turn into an emer­gency that de­mands the at­ten­tion of those the case was hid­den from ab ini­tio.

In any case, even if the Pres­i­dency may play shy in dis­clos­ing that the Nige­rian Pres­i­dent would spend time with his doc­tors, most Nige­ri­ans are aware of such pos­si­bil­ity and are pray­ing for his quick re­cov­ery just as they did dur­ing his last pro­longed hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, and from which he re­turned to the coun­try to thank all for the ges­ture of con­cern for his health. That is a mea­sure of the en­dow­ment of hu­man­ity in Nige­ri­ans, or­di­nar­ily. Af­ter all it is nat­u­ral that just as the Pres­i­dent is hu­man, so is he ex­pected to man­i­fest any hu­man weak­nesses, in­clud­ing break­downs in health sta­tus, even if to as­sure the coun­try of his hu­man­ity.

Yet a for­eign trip by Buhari for now can also jus­ti­fi­ably at­tract con­cern due to what dam­age is in­flicted from the Pres­i­dency on the coun­try when­ever his guard is low­ered and es­pe­cially when he is phys­i­cally out of the coun­try. Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists as well as schol­ars s and prac­ti­tion­ers of ad­min­is­tra­tion rec­og­nize that the an or­ga­ni­za­tion is deemed to be sta­ble when the mere tem­po­rary ab­sence of just one ac­tor - no mat­ter his or her po­si­tion therein, does not desta­bi­lize its struc­ture and func­tion. In this case he is trav­el­ling out of the coun­try in the midst of de­bil­i­tat­ing crises in vir­tu­ally all as­pects of the na­tion’s life, all of which are trace­able to past in­ef­fec­tual, tepid re­sponses by his ad­min­is­tra­tion leav­ing the

Yet a for­eign trip by Buhari for now can also jus­ti­fi­ably at­tract con­cern due to what dam­age is in­flicted from the Pres­i­dency on the coun­try when­ever his guard is low­ered and es­pe­cially when he

is phys­i­cally out of the coun­try cit­i­zenry in a state of pal­pa­ble de­spair.

Against the back­drop of the fore­go­ing con­tention not a few Nige­ri­ans are gen­uinely con­cerned over the new wave of malfea­sances that will be vis­ited on the coun­try dur­ing his cur­rent trip to Lon­don by his lieu­tenants that care little about public weal. For in­stance it is on record that dur­ing his med­i­cal trip to Lon­don last year some of his lieu­tenants con­sti­tuted them­selves into a ca­bal in the Pres­i­dency and sim­ply cap­i­tal­ized on his ab­sence to wreak havoc on the coun­try’s com­mon pat­ri­mony. As is eas­ily re­called it was dur­ing that pe­riod that he pur­port­edly ‘ap­proved’ from his Lon­don hos­pi­tal bed and likely on trans­fu­sion, a whop­ping multi-bil­lion dol­lar con­tract for the Nige­rian Na­tional Pe­tro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC). Many con­cerned Nige­ri­ans had even con­tem­plated su­ing the Lon­don med­i­cal fa­cil­ity for such ab­surd level of clin­i­cal in­dis­cre­tion, of al­low­ing a pa­tient un­der­go­ing med­i­cal pro­ce­dures un­der their watch, to also at­tend to non­med­i­cal busi­ness deals in­clud­ing mat­ters of state­craft.

Yet to make mat­ters worse is the fact that the lead­ing lights of the ad­min­is­tra­tion op­er­ate even in his pres­ence as leviathan en­ti­ties who hardly pay any pre­mium to public opin­ion over their en­ter­prise in gov­er­nance, no mat­ter how odi­ous such may be in the es­teem of the very public they claim to serve. Was it not that pe­riod that the Vice Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo to whom the Pres­i­dent for­mally trans­mit­ted pow­ers to act in his ab­sence, wit­nessed a bla­tant breach of Pres­i­den­tial protocol as stout re­sis­tance to his ex­er­cise of the trans­mit­ted pow­ers. The truth is that con­cern over his trip is spawned by the lib­er­ties that will be claimed by some un­touch­able el­e­ments around him to wreak havoc on the coun­try’s com­mon pat­ri­mony. Al­though even dur­ing his di­rect watch the coun­try did not fare bet­ter with re­spect to their out­rages against the coun­try, his ab­sence pro­vides the per­fect am­bi­ence for them to run riot with their game.

Yet there could also be a sil­ver lin­ing from the trip, if it will clear the air over his health sta­tus once and for all es­pe­cially as it bor­ders on the widely held ex­pec­ta­tion that Buhari may con­test the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in 2019 for a sec­ond term. Since the main con­tention over the trip is ac­tu­ally of his health sta­tus, Buhari can still dif­fer from his team by be­ing more open to Nige­ri­ans - his own peo­ple, over the true state of af­fairs about his move­ments, in and out of the coun­try.

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