By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
Principal Officers in the Presidency has continued to handle President Muhammadu Buhari’s health crisis with minimal requisite skills of managing the image of the president of a country like Nigeria. The President’s health matters which is a natural phenomenon of human existence have been deeply beclouded in politics, essentially, the politics of self-interest vis-à-vis job security.
Apparently, the Presidency has seemingly mismanaged the President’s health crisis into unnecessary suspicions, political permutations and conjectures, and adventurous ridicule.
National Daily investigations revealed that President Buhari has been mismanaged to the point that the principal officers he appointed into the Presidency have come under pressure to convince Nigerians on the genuine health status of the President who has been on medial vacation to London, the United Kingdom.
The pressure has culminated into arrangements for solidarity visitations by approved “delegates from the Presidency” to London to sympathize with the President of the Republic. More so, the pressure further precipitated presidential statements by the image managers more often to international community. Thus, Nigerians read more of their president from the international scene.
Beside, several Nigerians are becoming worried that even in the instances President Buhari was said to be talking, he only talked either international community or APC members alone while majority Nigerians who voted both the APC and Buhari to power are left in the dark.
The irony has been that the appointed principal officers in the presidency have seemingly identified internal enemies within government to the point that managing the health crisis of the president has become utmost secret. Presidential activities both within and outside Nigeria, were over the years often ‘celebrated’ or ‘covered’ by the government media organizations like the NTA, Radio Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria; by extension, notable private television or radio stations and print media across the country. These are credible media through which the president can interact with Nigerians from wherever he is and under whatever circumstance.
Knowing about the president’s health status gives Nigerians better encourage to know where to focus their prayers, increase popular solidarity and sympathy; but the principal officers in the presidency have tacitly excommunicated the president from Nigerian citizens.
Also, the Presidency appears to have carved out a government in a government; hypothetically, operating an autonomous government within the Federal government of Nigeria. The Minister of Information and Culture, the messenger or information disseminator of the Federal Government seems to be excluded from knowledge of what is happening to President Buhari. The Presidency now operates like a caste distinct from the Nigerian state system.
Invariably, there is a seeming deepening gulf, skepticism and distrust in state/citizens relations under the current administration.
Accordingly, Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation and stout stakeholder in the PDP, has admonished President Buhari to resign and go home to rest. He contended that the President or Presidency is not meant to be a tourist attraction, a museum of old fossils or a mausoleum of decaying bodies.
Fani Kayode also decried the prevailing ritual of selective Nigerian leaders traversing international boundaries into the UK to visit President Buhari on his medical vacation. He bemoaned the political pilgrimage by “the curious dignitaries in a distant foreign land.”
Fani-Kayode accordingly declared: “It is an act of cruelty to expect this poor man to lead a nation of 180 million. Let him resign, go home and rest.”
The Presidency had on Tuesday, generated fresh controversy in a statement that President Buhari has written to thank the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, for the nationwide prayers held last week by Guineans for his recovery and good health.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, had indicated in a statement last Tuesday that: “In a letter dated July 24, 2017, President Buhari, who had earlier made a phone call to Conde, who is the current Chairman of the Assemblies of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, stated:
“I thank you for your kind and thoughtful action in organizing nationwide prayers for my good health. It is a gesture that I will forever cherish and treasure.
“Your Excellency will be pleased to hear that I am making good progress, and as soon as doctors advise, I shall return to my duties and continue serving the Nigerian people who elected me and are daily praying for my recovery.”
Adesina further indicated that in an earlier letter, President Buhari had also accepted his nomination as leader of the “2018 AU Theme on the Fight Against Corruption”, which came from African leaders at the 29th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 4, 2017.
“While thanking you for the kind words and for the nomination,” the President wrote to Conde, “I wish to express my readiness to accept this new important role and to reiterate my commitment to contribute towards our collective efforts to strengthen good governance and development on the continent. I, therefore, look forward to working closely with you in the realization of this objective,” Adesina had declared.
This generated further disquiet from some stakeholders that President Buhari who has not been speaking to Nigerians speak to international community more often.
Moreover, the Presidency was alleged to have approved nominations by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) of seven governors who visited President Buhari in London on Wednesday
The Media and Publicity teams of both the President and Acting President who include Mallam Garba Shehu, Femi Adeshina and Laolu Akande, were said to have made this known in Abuja on Tuesday at a press conference.
The selected Governors included Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, NGF Chairman; Engr. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State; Alhaji Umar Ganduje of Kano State; Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State.
This manifestation deepens the mounting distrust, skepticism in the administration of the Nigerian Government at a time President Buhari needs the support of all Nigerians.
However, Garuba Shehu clarifying that the visit was strictly goodwill, confirmed that the Governors will leave Nigeria Tuesday evening, meet with the President on Wednesday at 3.00pm in London. The governors returned to Nigeria in the early hours of Thursday.
The media and publicity team also explained that the list of delegation was at the discretion of the NGF.
The image managing team also stated that the choice of addressing Nigerians is that of the President, adding anytime if he deemed it fit, he would do so.
It is obvious that the Presidency is aware of the misgivings generated by their management of the President’s health crisis which has spillover effects on the President’s integrity and goodwill.
National Daily investigation found that the visit of the seven NGF governors which included two PDP governors may be the response of the APC government to dissension generated by earlier visit of APC governors and ministers to the UK.
Select APC Governors and Ministers led by the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, went on a solidarity visit to London last Sunday to identify with President Buhari.