Wednesday, March 15, 2017

President Buhari’s Return

 At last, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country last week as announced by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr. Femi Adesina. His prolonged absence had been a source of intense acrimony in the polity with anti-Buharists insisting that he was either dead or gravely ill, and should resign on account of his incapacitation. His defenders and party members, especially his media team on the other hand, had insisted that he was only resting and taking medical tests. As such, he was expected to   return to the country at any time.
*Buhari and his wife, Aisha, after his return
However, the stridency of the demands of the wailing Buhari naysayers who chose not to be placated with photo-shoots of the president’s “hale and heartiness” in London, soon combined with the rising profile of the then Acting President,  Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to bring the President back into the country.
And, since the president arrived in the country, there has been an attempt at a restoration of some form of normalcy, with the president even “resuming” and spending three hours in his office on Monday.  No sooner had the President sat on his “presidential seat”, however, than the Internet again went viral on close videos of the President’s gait as he walked from the plane that brought him from London.
The close-up videos, undoubtedly, showed a much-emaciated and limping president, who was still badly in need of medical attention. It is not surprising, then, that Mr. Adesina said that the president would still travel in a matter of weeks for a medical review of his condition.
That is as it should be, as the president appears clearly in no position to take on the challenge of administering a country that is battling a debilitating recession in the midst of ferocious opposition from the former ruling party and some segments of the polity.

In spite of the efforts to establish a similitude of normalcy with the president’s resumption in his office, it is obvious that his greatest attention should be paid to the restoration of his health. In that regard, Nigeria will be better off with Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, continuing to attend to the onerous duties of state, while Nigerians give Buhari a breather to take care of his health. From the president’s video that Nigerians saw, he is nowhere near hale and hearty. Instead, it is unfortunate that it is at this time that Nigeria, itself, badly needs economic recovery that President Buhari is also battling to recover his health.
The challenges confronting the nation at this time are so gargantuan. The battle against corruption is a never-ending one. As I write, youths at different fora are protesting against unemployment, which is raging at 16.32 percent.
The ordinary citizens are also busy fighting inflation which is at an all-time high of 18 percent. The big issue of the kidnapped Chibok girls is yet to be resolved while the ongoing efforts at ending restiveness in the Niger Delta must be sustained.
There are so many promises of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yet to be fulfilled. The way to do this is not to try to pretend that the President is back, and able to do whatever is required to move the country forward. He clearly cannot. The Vice President and the rest of the President’s team should, therefore, be allowed to continue to steer the ship of state towards safe harbour, while keeping the president abreast with their activities and obtaining his consent on major issues, whenever it is required.
This is not the time to play ethnic or power politics because the president’s health and the nation’s stability and progress are the important things at play here. I wish Buhari a full recovery, and his team, the wisdom to steer the ship of affairs of the country to the path of progress and prosperity, until he fully recovers to continue his work.
*Wale Sokunbi is the Sun newspaper’s Op-Ed Editor 

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