FEATURE ARTICLE

Dr Okwuolisa Duke IgwiloThursday, February 9, 2017
igwiloduke@hotmail.com
Abuja, Nigeria

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BEFORE THE PRESIDENT DIES


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uch has been written in the social media and main stream media about the state of health of Nigeria President, Muhammed Buhari. The satirists are awash with all kind of cartoons about his health condition. The cancellation of his proposed return date from vacation elicited the so called cancellation fever in Nigeria whereby 2Face Idiba also cancelled his proposed peaceful demonstration about the state of the economy.

The Presidency has not helped the situation with their apparent ignorance of the state of the health of the President. In the Punch Newspaper of 7th February 2017, The Vice President Yemi Osibanjo was quoted as saying "only President Muhammadu Buhari could disclose his health status to Nigerians at the appropriate time. When asked why it was difficult for the Presidency to disclose the health status of Buhari, Osibanjo said the President had to complete his tests before he could know his status".

This failure of Presidency to make categorical statement about the state of health of the President is now fuelling rumours about the pressure on the Vice President to resign his position. This is apparently to pave way for persons from specific ethnic group in Nigeria to take over as President should the current President die in office.

Nigeria is a country where events continue to repeat itself without the people learning any lessons from history. President Umaru Musa Yar Adua died in office as the 2nd democratically elected President of Nigeria in the current democratic dispensation. His state of health was a subject of so much speculation during the electioneering campaign and immediately afterwards. The Presidency gave multiple reasons why he could not perform the duties of his office until it became obvious that the President was gravely sick and then died. It would have been expected that so much lessons would have been learnt from the circumstances of death of President Yar Adua. But it seems that we are bound to make the same mistake again and again without learning any lesson.

The main theme of this article is not about the life and death of Nigeria President. The article is about the state of Nigeria today and the life and death of a country. I have heard people discuss in hush tunes about the death of the President and what it portends for the country. I always argue that it amount to death of one man compared to the millions of children under the age of 5 who die from preventable infectious disease in Nigeria and sub Sahara Africa every day. It is the death of one man compared to the number of people now suffering and surviving cancer and other metabolic conditions. It would not be any more than the death of Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Mahtma Ghandi, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe and others.

While the death of the President would be one death too many for his friends and immediate family, it would not significantly affect the price of crude oil in the international commodity market. It would not bring down inflation which is an all time high. Neither would it significantly improve the supply of US dollars to the money market to influence the USD/NGN rate. Nor provide steady electricity supply to the country after the death of the President. The prices of basic food items would not come down after the burial of the President.

What then is the hue and cry about the state of health of the President? The Cuban strong man Fidel Castro was indisposed while still in power. He completed the handover of power to his younger brother Raul Castro before leaving government and living the rest of his life as ex President until his death.

Assuming the President becomes indisposed to continue managing the affairs of the country, common sense demands that the wheel of State must continue and succession would not become an issue for petty traders and peasants to discuss in beer parlours. But Nigeria is a state with a difference. The body languages of the President have been used to determine virtually everything in Nigeria since the advent of this administration. If the President should die, whose body language would be used as a new measure and reason for inefficiency, ineptitude and decay. The failure to articulate a fiscal/monetary policy that would tackle recession and economic hardship in the country has been blamed on ministers waiting for and listening to body language of the President. The failure to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry has been blamed on the body language of the President. The decay in the public health and public educational institutions across the length and breadth of the country has been blamed on the body language of the country who in turn blames it on the past administration. If the President should die, there would be no more body language to blame. The people responsible for these portfolios may be held accountable for the failure of their respective ministries, parastatals and government agencies. And because no one want to be held accountable for anything in Nigeria, It serves their best interest that the President is alive at all cost so that his body language would continue to be blamed, even if the body is badly inflamed.

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