ON Thursday, January 19, 2017, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, informed Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari was going to the United Kingdom to spend part of his annual vacation. Buhari According to Adesina, Buhari would also undergo a “routine” medical check-up, and was expected back at his duty post by 6th February 2017. In his absence, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will act as President. According to the presidential spokesman, a letter to that effect had already been transmitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in line with
constitutional requirements. However, within hours after the President departed, the rumour mill cranked alive, with unsubstantiated claims that the President was “deathly ill, which the Presidency severally debunked. These have not done much to douse the tension and uncertainty which have enveloped the nation. The hot denial by the Presidency that Vice President Osinbajo is “not under pressure by governors to resign”, the meetings of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Northern leaders, and the President’s own personal silence since he travelled have not helped matters. The atmosphere since then resembles the situation the nation faced when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua was in admission in a Saudi hospital in 2009/2010 before he gave up the ghost in May 2010. We, however, call on Nigerians to be patient and prayerful for the good health and well-being of President Buhari, he has lived with death rumours and has always come out to continue with his job and livelihood. Nothing says this occasion will be any different. Unlike the case of the late Yar’ Adua, Buhari’s spokesman specified 6th February 2017 as the expected date of his resumption of work. Secondly, there was no controversy about a temporary transfer of authority to his Vice President, which took place in a constitutionally-prescribed manner. Nigerians should take the Presidency at its words and wait patiently for 6th February. We, however, advise the Federal Government and indeed all
governments-state and local to always strive to keep the public correctly informed of what happens to those they elected into power, especially when they are facing health challenges. That is the democratic norm, which places emphasis on transparency, accountability and respecting the people’s right to know what goes on in their government. Knowing that it is impossible to cover the light of the moon with bare hands, government officials must never encourage speculation through any act(s) of omission or commission.
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