There are strong indications that the President is very sick again. Effort is made to conceal this fact but his absence from three venues very crucial to his life affirms what has now become an open secret.
One, the President is a punctual person. Nothing will stop him from his office unless it is something overwhelming. To operate from home—no matter how justified by the Minister of Information—underscores the level of his ailment. I have been an advocate of his rest and delegation of much of his work to his deputy and aides as a way of stabilizing his condition but I have never contemplated an excuse for his total absence from office unless it is impossible for him to do so.
Two, whatever the low level of activity that is needed to stabilize his health, one thing he cannot afford to miss is the Federal Executive Council meetings because it is the highest level forum of his government. To do it once on ground of mild illness is understandable. To do it repeatedly—for no reason of grave condition—is something that cannot be justified normally and inconceivable of someone known for his punctuality.
The third is his absence at the Friday Congregation, which, as a practicing Muslim, he has been known to attend but from which he can be excused on valid grounds of illness or engagement that borders on saving life or property. However, taken together with his absence from office and meetings, it validates the speculation that his condition is once more grave.
Given that we are not dealing with a person known for counterfeiting behavior, it is safe to deduce from the above that the President is not only sick but very sick to the extent that he is not able to meet the barest demands of his office. As someone put it, for a President to be incapable of attending a single function for a week is enough to provoke our worries. And worried the nation is, actually.
If the situation persists, it will demand the President doing two things: one, re-appointing his deputy as Acting President such that affairs of state will be attended to without hindrance or delay and, two, the pursuit of his recovery whatever it takes and wherever it could take him. While the nation must be obliged the former, the President is entitled to the latter, especially from the people he trusts most and closest to him.
There are accusations that due to the ongoing power struggle in the Villa, some people are thwarting the return of the President to London for another round of treatment. The fear, as we witnessed in the case of late President Yar’adua, is that one group—the President’s—will be eclipsed by that of the Vice-President. It cannot be denied. Come to think about it. It is natural. However, for people living in a civilization, the urge of selfishness in our DNA must be sacrificed in the interest of the common good.
In this case, any thought of losing power is only instinctive. On careful consideration, there is no alternative than giving the President the full medical attention he deserves. The longer he is denied that the faster will his condition deteriorate and the faster will power slip away from whoever is behind the deferment. In case he dies, as it happened to late Yar’adua, it will terminate the privileges of whoever may be exploiting his illness. Delay is dangerous.
To do the contrary is against the dictates of reason. Thus, giving him the desired medical attention quickly is not only the right thing he deserves as our President but also the best guarantee that he will remain the President for a longer time. It is the decision any wise person close to the President would take.
I can vouch for the President that left to him—if he is capable of making a choice—he would choose constitutionality over power, going by both his character and antecedents. He would re-appoint the Vice President, once more, as acting President and remain at home or take the next flight to London in pursuit of his health. His position today would not be different from the one he took when late Yar’adua was similarly sick. If we can remember, he did not shy away from suggesting the FEC to investigate the condition of his predecessor then, in line with constitutional requirements. Whether he is in a position to make that impartial choice in his case is something the public is not privileged to know.
With or without the privileged information of his state of health, the President deserves to get the best treatment the country can afford. The best expression of love anyone can accord the President is to support the cause of his full recovery, not denying his need for it.
And the nation too deserves the best attention its constitution guarantees. If denied its constitutional right, the nation too will fall sick—very sick—like the President. It requires Nigerians to stand up for it, now. Let the Vice President be appointed as Acting President while the President recovers. This is what the President in his right condition of mind would stand for. This is what I support.
I wish both the President and the nation long life and prosperity.