President Muhammadu Buhari is 73, and at that age, it is expected that he would spend more time seeing a doctor than younger folks. Nigerians knew his age when they voted for him in March last year.
But Nigerians also expected him to tell them the truth.
The president arrived in London yesterday claiming to be there for the conference about supporting Syrian refugees. There was no justification for him being there as it clearly had nothing to do with Nigeria and its multitude of problems. An online publication had already claimed before he arrived that the visit to London was medical treatment, and the conference provided cover for this.
Buhari has now released a statement claiming that he is going on a five-day vacation, which has added weight to the claims that he needs medical treatment.
The cloak and dagger over a sick president is something that Nigerians are only too aware of following former president Umaru Yar’Adua illness and death in office in May 2010. The cover up and the circumstances around that situation created a political crisis that reportedly threatened civilian rule in the country.
We have now been informed that Buhari is ill and there has been a lot of jockeying going on behind the scenes in case he does not recover. The president is said to have passed out on several occasions, including on 16 December. The source was not sure of the nature of the ailment, but could only offer that it was being “managed” by the president’s personal doctor and has required trips to clinics abroad. This current “vacation” is one of such trips.
Buhari also spent a few weeks before his inauguration in the UK claiming he was resting, while sources claimed that he was receiving treatment.
Incidentally, his spokesman Femi Adesina was due to speak from London on the phone to a Lagos-based TV station this evening. When he came on air, the first thing he was asked was to comment on the rumours around the president’s health. The phone line stopped working after that question.