By James Ogunjimi
Most Nigerians have outgrown their consciences. This much is clear when you evaluate what they say today alongside what they said seven years ago. When you place the things that were right or wrong to them seven years ago beside what’s right or wrong today, you’ll see the transformation.
The political situation unfolding like a movie series every day may have different actors and actresses but the script and audience remains the same.
January 2010, The Late Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua had been sick for a while and was receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia. Nigerians were asking when he would return. They wanted to know why he was bent on staying on even when his health was too frail to carry on. They wanted to know why he would neither talk to them or resign.
Then he granted an interview to the BBC where he told the news agency that he would not return until his doctors said he was okay to return. This sparked a lot of constitutional debates and protests. Eventually, Yar’Adua was ‘declared’ unfit to rule and power was transferred to his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan.
Fast forward seven years later to January 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari sent a letter to the Senate informing them that he was going on a 10-day medical vacation. When the ten days elapsed and he didn’t return, different stories started to appear.
First, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said he was delayed because all the Presidential jets had technical issues and were being repaired. Then, Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina said the President was waiting for results of some tests conducted and would return once the results were out. Eventually, the President himself wrote the Senate again to tell them that he would only return when his doctors gave him the go-ahead.
Now, in all these, the situations remain the same. Some people however will not see it that way because they either belong to the BMC crew or are still living in denial of the monumental failure President Buhari turned out to be. These people insist that the 2017 Buhari scenario is different from the 2010 Yar’Adua drama because there’s no vacuum. To them, as long as power has been transferred to the Vice President to act as President in the interim, it matters very little that Nigeria’s elected President has serious health issues that have kept him away from the country and that has rendered him incapable of carrying out his duties as President.
Ironically, the same people who are pushing forward this narrative were at the forefront seven years ago, writing articles, granting interviews, sending letters to the UN and US, marching on the streets to demand that President Yar’Adua either resigned or be removed. Today, they are quiet or writing furiously, contradicting everything they wrote and said seven years ago. Today they are at the forefront of those calling fellow Nigerians “mischief makers” for asking why the President will not come back or resign. What changed between then and now? They outgrew their consciences.
Vacuum or no vacuum, it is all shades of wrong to have a President who is medically unfit to rule. Nigeria is battling countless issues like Boko haram, insecurity in the Niger Delta, secessionist talks, killer herdsmen, economic recession and it cannot afford to have question marks on its leader’s head.
The Senate led by Bukola Saraki has not helped either because the Senate is led by a man who has issues of false declaration of assets and the way he plays this game with the President will go a long way to see that his case is swept under a giant carpet and is never raised again.
Because of this, instead of raising constitutional issues that have to do with the President being missing in action, he has been visiting the UK and posting pictures of him and the President.
Nigeria is in bad hands leadership-wise but what’s worse is that citizens are accomplices in the way they are misruled. The citizens are either silent in the face of this anomaly or are taking sides with those who see nothing wrong with the President’s absence.
We can dance around it as much as we want but this much is clear: Nigeria cannot have a leader that is unfit to rule. Nigeria cannot have a leader that stays in the UK and gives instructions through phone when he should be on the ground solving problems. Nigeria is going through an economic recession and cannot continue to fund the continued stay and medical bills of a President who budgeted large amount for the hospital in Aso Rock. No amount of sugarcoating and name-calling can change the fact that President Buhari needs to either return home to lead, resign honourably citing medical issues or be removed by the Senate. In the absence of this, it is this, it is the right of Nigerians who want the best for Nigeria to stand up, speak up and refuse to rest until normalcy returns to the country.