August 9 makes a total of 144 days that President Buhari has been absent from the country since January 19 that he embarked on medical leave. His continued absence was punctuated by his return on March 10 that lasted about two months during which he missed some important state meetings and occasionally had to work from home. His Excellency’s illness is shrouded in so much mystery and has only succeeded in piquing our interest as to what exactly ails our president.

His health issues notwithstanding, Mr President is a respecter of the law, so he duly handed over to his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to steer the affairs of the nation. Despite working in line with the dictates of the constitution, different factions have continued to call for his resignation if he won’t return from his leave to resume office. Most notorious of them is Our Mumu Don Do, a movement pioneered by Deji Adeyanju and frontiered by the Area Fada, Charlie Boy. The group had started an online campaign a couple of months ago but took to the streets on a peaceful protest on August 7.

The constitution made provision for a situation as this by stipulating that the Vice President be handed over to. The president is ill, shouldn’t that be enough? What exactly will the name of the illness do for us?

Ms Luretta Onochie, Special Adviser to the President on Social Media gave a reply to this question in her chat with Channels TV recently. She says that Nigerians love Buhari and have nothing but kind words about him. More importantly, she says Nigerians are being disrespectful by asking for their president’s health status. “Buhari is a private citizen…” she said.

 

Garba Shehu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity in contributing to the issue said, “demanding the President’s return or resignation or certain explanations, I would say that they have over stepped their bounds”. Less than 24hours after making this comment, Charlie Boy and other protesters were brutalized by the police on one of their protests. This is nothing but a clear message for everyone to steer clear of matters concerning the President’s health.

My response to Mr Shehu and Ms Onochie is that it really is disrespectful to make a fuss of a private citizen’s health. They are very correct but they should also remember that Private citizens do not have their family occupying the presidential villa. Private citizens do not go on medical trips at the country’s expense or have the presidential jet at their beck and call. Private citizens do not have governors lobbying to visit them in their abroad hospital. So is President Buhari really a private citizen?

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