Nigeria: When Will President Buhari Be Considered Incapacitated?


By Asikason Jonathan – AT the homestretch of the 2015 presidential election, the Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election campaign team challenged then candidate Muhammadu Buhari to a sport contest. When the gauntlet was left unpicked, the team in a follow up, set the internet abuzz with the juxtaposition of the pictures of President Jonathan and members of his Federal Executive Council jogging and that of not-too-good- looking candidate Buhari.

The challenge which came on the heels of simmering conjectures on the health condition of candidate Buhari was aimed at passing one message which is: President Jonathan is healthier than candidate Buhari to carry out the duties of the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

But was “health” given a premium in the election? The vuvuzelas of the opposition party was so fortissimo that not even the yawping of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state could be heard. They rally-cried “Nigeria sai changi” and people responded with “Sai Buhari” and thus turned a blind eye to the critical issues in the election.

That health is of premium in the electability of a candidate leaves no room for argument. All public office -let alone the office of president- demands people who are sound both in body and in mind so that efficiency and proficiency will be brought to fruition in the exercise of the duties of the office.

Ever wonder why Nigeria is in downward spiral today? Serious countries never play with the health reports of candidates for an election–for there is a correlation between the health of a leader and his/her performance in office. This explains why the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign quickly published the health report of its candidate when candidate Donald Trump alleged that she is not healthy enough to be the president of the United States.

Nigeria is sick today because President Buhari is sick. And that the nature of the sickness is jealously guided makes the matter more complicated. Whither Nigeria?

The happenings in our Nigeria today often evoke the anecdote of the wise ram. The story had it that lion’s friendship with tortoise was put to test when the former sought for the guardianship of the latter’s child after devouring four of its five children due to the famine that struck the animal kingdom at the time. The request was one that tortoise could not turn down because they were good friends. So to select the one to send to lion, tortoise gathered its children and began ask: how many times will something happen to you before you become wise? The eldest answered four times. The second said two times whereas the third son said once but when it came to the turn of the wise ram, it answered: before the act is fully hatched I will discover and avoid it. The tortoise nodded and sent the wise ram to lion.

So I ask Nigerians: where are the wise rams among us? We have trod this path before and not only that we are on it again but very complacent about its implication on the political development of the country.

At a point in the Yar’Adua saga, when all the threads in the political machinations of the cabal that hijacked the country were unwoven, the doctrine of necessity was invoked –I wonder if the National Assembly is waiting for another bazaar before the said doctrine is invoked?

In his first medical trip, President Buhari spent over fifty days in a London hospital and incurred expenditure that the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, said will undermine national security if made public. President Buhari has been away to the same hospital since May 10 for a fellow up treatment and with no sign of returning soon.

The complacency that is shadowing the politics of Buhari’s health and our evolution to ‘cabalcracy’ has given rise to the question: when will Buhari be considered “incapacitated”? A sickness that keeps one hospitalised over a month I believe falls within the definition of the word-incapacitated. In a sane milieu, President Buhari’s resignation would have been a fait accompli.

Odd enough, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended 2010) usurped the powers of the National Assembly in the originating process of the declaration of the permanent incapacity of presidents and vice-president of the country. According to section 144(a), the first step in the process is a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the Federal Executive Council.

That the members of the Federal Executive Council are the appointed aids of the president made it impossible for the passage of such resolution to be successful for it is like biting the fingers that feeds one. And that the National Assembly, which is the presumed mouthpiece of the Nigerian citizens, cannot come in without the passage of the resolution makes the constitutional provision laughable.

Truth be told, Nigerians do not need a magician to tell them that President Buhari is incapable of discharging the duties of his office. That Prof.Yemi Osinbajo is yet to become a substantive president exposes not just the northern born-to-rule mentality which has stunted the political development of the country but also the APC paucity of leadership.

So, are we going to stand arms akimbo and wait till 2019 before we can do something? Waiting till 2019 amounts to leaving our fate to the power-play of the cabal that Aisha Buhari complained about and that amounts to a great disservice to this country. This piece therefore, calls upon the National Assembly to do the needful by arresting the situation now lest water, as they say in the Nigerian street parlance pass garri.

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