Nigerians remain curious over Osinbajo’s sudden visit to Buhari
- Another attempt to deceive Nigerians, says Fayose
By Odunewu Segun
Ever since President Muhammadu Buhari departed for the U.K. in January for his first medical trip of 2017, his health has been a matter of national speculation in Nigeria.
Since he left for another ‘medical checkup’ on May 7th, officials of the government has kept silent on the specifics of his ailment; the President himself, when he returned from his first trip in March, indicated he had received a blood transfusion, but little else is known of his condition.
This has fueled rumors among political opponents, who have suggested that Buhari may be critically ill or even dead.
Now for the first time, and like a bolt from the blues, acting President Yemi Osinbajo paid the ailing President a visit. An opportunity that has been denied several times before now.
Upon his return on Wednesday, Osinbajo said he had gone to London simply to “checkup” on Buhari and to “brief him on developments” in the country.
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When asked how long the President’s absence would continue, Osinbajo was vague. “Deadlines aren’t a very good thing, but he is, as I said, recuperating fast. We are expecting him very shortly.”
Osinbajo’s visit may have been timed to counter such rumors, says Cheta Nwanze, head of Nigerian consultancy SBM Intelligence. But Nwanze says that if Buhari is not back soon, Nigerians’ patience may run out. “If Buhari isn’t back by the end of the month, we will go right back to the speculation,” he says.
Reacting to the visit, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose described the reported visit as another attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government to deceive Nigerians on the state of health of the President.
The governor said “what Nigerians desire now is a live video of President Buhari addressing them, not a visit in which no pictorial (photo or video) was made available to the public.”
He noted that; “President Buhari has spent 65 days out of the country since he left on May 7, 2017 and no one has seen him. Yet, Nigerians
are being told that the Acting President Osinbajo visited him with no picture, no video to show except that of his (Osinbajo) entering and leaving the Abuja House in London.”
But any suggestion that Osinbajo visited Buhari to prepare for succession must be tempered by recognition of the country’s fragile ethnic dynamics, Mark Amaza, a political analyst said.
“If Buhari dies or is declared medically unfit to hold office—a long shot—constitutionally, Osinbajo would become the next president,” says Amaza. “But can he succeed Buhari [at the next election] in 2019? That is a tricky question considering how regional politics will become an important factor.”
Whatever the reason for Osinbajo’s visit, it has left Nigerians curious and, in some cases, suspicious. And should Buhari remain hidden, those feelings seem likely to grow.