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Buhari’s Health: The Choice Before Nigerians By Prof. Ishaq Akintola

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The continued absence of Nigeria’s No. 1 citizen, President Muhammadu
Buhari, is causing apprehension in the country. It has also given room
for speculations about the condition of his heath.

  The Muslim
Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects the Federal Government’s grandstanding on
the issue. We equally denounce the diabolical speculations and death
wishes flying around the length and breadth of the country. It is all
much ado about nothing. It is an act of bad faith.

We refuse to
accept the Federal Government’s (FG) claim that the president is hale
and hearty. That sounds more like tales by moonlight. Neither shall we
give credit to advocatus diaboli who wish him dead or enemies of peace
who claim that Buhari had died.

As for those who assume that the
president was poisoned, they are simply playing a game of chance. We
will not jump to conclusions until we see palpable proof. To what end is
the whole furore anyway? What is the big deal if a president is sick?
Haven’t presidents of other countries been sick before? Are presidents
not human beings? We can cite examples from the world’s biggest
democracy.

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US presidents have been sick while in office.Woodrow
Wilson (1913-1921) suffered a severe stroke that left him incapacitated
throughout his presidency. Yet He remained in office till the end of his
term in 1921.Diagnosed with polio in 1921 at the age of 39, Franklin D
Roosevelt (1933-1945) still served for twelve good years though he could
not stand or walk without support. Using a wheelchair in private, he
never disclosed the full extent of his health condition.

Dwight
Eisenhower (1953-1961) suffered heart attack in 1955 as a result of
which he was hospitalized for several weeks. He also did a surgery some
months later to treat Crohn’s disease and in late 1957 suffered another
stroke that made him temporarily unable to speak. Yet he went ahead to
win a second term after that.

John F Kennedy (1961 – 1963) had a
chronic bone disease and was hospitalized nine times in his short two
and a half year presidency but this was never revealed to the American
public. George Bush (1989 – 1993) vomited and then fainted in front of
cameras in 1992 while on a visit in Japan and heaven did not fall in
America.

Now if about five of American presidents have been sick
in office, what is wrong if Nigeria’s current president is also sick? Is
he made of iron? We are also tempted to ask, if Buhari dies, will it be
the first time that a president will die? Yaradua died here in Nigeria.
Murtala Muhammad died. Tafawa Balewa died.

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Eight American
presidents have died in office. Fourdied of natural causes: William
Henry Harrison (1841), Zachary Taylor (1850), Warren Harding (1923) and
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945). Four others were assassinated: Abraham
Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901) and
John F. Kennedy (1963).

The truth is that if Buhari dies today,
his name will be written in letters of gold. It is the death of a hero
primus inter pareil and the death of a reformer nulli secundus. Buhari
is a dogged corruption fighter who came to rescue Nigerians from yam
thieves. If he dies today he will leave an indellible record, an
achievement difficult to match by his successor and a standard that is
bound to create a yawning lacuna.

As for the fear that
his death may lead to ethnic or religious war and over which some
religious leaders are allegedly inciting their followership, I think it
is due to wrong perception. Some people ask curious questions. They want
to know why is it that only Muslim presidents die while in office:
Tafawa Balewa (15th January, 1966), Muritala Muhammad (13th February,
1976) , General Sani Abacha (9th June, 1998) and Umaru Yaradua (5thMay,
2010).

But there is a historical in exactitude in this thinking
because it has left out one Christian leader, General Aguiyi Ironsi, who
died while in office on 29th July, 1966. So it is not only Muslim
leaders who have died while in office. 

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We also do not want to
join issues with authors of conspiracy theories, particularly those who
assume that Buhari had been poisoned. It is sheer guess work and I think
we should leave that to the security agencies and medical experts
handling Buhari’s medical tests. Those who did death-wish advertorials
during the 2015 electioneering campaigns may also have questions to
answer concerning the conspiracy theory. They may want to explain to
Nigerians how much walk they gave their talk.

What should
Nigerians do in the present circumstance? Nigerians need to relax on
this whole issue. We also need to widen our horizon of knowledge. We
need to know that what is happening to Buhari now has happened to many
leaders in other countries before and it did not lead to any crisis.
Buhari handed over properly and constitutionally before leaving the
country and the Acting president is doing well. So there is no cause for
alarm. Unless there is malice, the National Assembly has no choice but
to key into the arrangement. 

Nigerians also need to show
sympathy and understanding as their president battles with a poor health
condition. They should not allow people whose hearts are filled with
hate to brainwash and indoctrinate them.

For the avoidance of
doubts, we declare that MURIC stands with Buhari not because he is a
Muslim. Abacha was a Muslim yet we rose in rebellion against him for the
actualization of June 12. Babangida is a Muslim but we mobilized
activists against him to debilitate military dictatorship. Obasanjo is a
Christian yet we supported his war against corruption. The records are
there for all to see.

By extension, we are today supporting the
Osinbajo presidency even though he is not a Muslim as long as he keeps
up the pressure on looters and remains incorruptible like his boss. The
issue should be good governance, not religion, not ethnicity.

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MURIC stands with Buhari because he is rescuing poor Nigerians from the
claws of a tiny cabal which has unjustly enriched itself from the sweat
of the poor masses. This is the same tiny cabal which sentenced
Nigerians to an epileptic power supply, sudden and painful deaths due to
bad roads and poor public heath system, all occasioned by reckless
corruption.

The same cabal subjected millions of Nigerians to a
life of ignorance and illiteracy due to corruption-driven neglect of the
education sector. Millions of Nigerians are starving today because the
same cabal has arrogated our common wealth to itself. So why should any
sensible Nigerian join this heartless class of people when the only man
who had the liver to challenge them has a health problem?

To
round up, we regard those who are comparing Osinbajo’s performance to
that of Buhari as sheer idle gossipers and professional rumour mongers.
Buhari knew the stuff Osinbajo was made of and that was why he picked
him as his running mate in the first place. The presidency is a joint
ticket and we wonder why anybody should be interested in disparaging and
unreasonable comparisons. In any case, could there have been an
Osinbajo without a Buhari?

Professor Ishaq Akintola is the Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

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