President Buhari returns to Nigeria in a rapturous ceremony, addressed the nation couple of days later, canceled Federal Executive Council meeting with no reason given and work from his official residence instead of his office.
The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity Femi Adesina defended the president and accused the media of misinformation.
Another media adviser, Garba Shehu perhaps wishes to be more creative, the reason he gave was that animals damaged furniture and air conditioning fittings in the president’s official Abuja office while he was in London receiving treatment.
He went on to make an astonishing statement, declaring that “what is important is that the job gets done, whether he does it from his bedroom or his sitting room or his bedroom”
These excuses are coming on the back of 103 days away from duties for medical vacation in London.
If Garba Shehu excuses are indeed true, the office responsible for the maintenance of the President’s office should be summarily scrapped for lack of competence and causing national embarrassment. My assumption is that the said office is on the government payroll, by which I mean, staffs are on monthly salary which means their work does not cease with the absence of the President.
If rodents could attack furniture and fittings causing enough damage to lock the president out of the office, what chances do important documents have? should we be prepared for another round of press briefing this time relating to the facts that rodents have eaten files and documents? In my eyes, these are not tenable excuses, but this is where we are.
Mr. Adesina, on his part, made a point of emphasizing that both the presidential residence and office are on the same premises, and so he can’t see the fuss here. So, he is perfectly within the normal limit to work from home. This guy reminds me of Sean Spicer who argues despite photographic evidence that Trump inaugural crowd was far more than Obama’s.
Well, the fuss here is that everything boils down to the suspicion of the health of the President.
The same scenario played out prior to relocating to the United Kingdom for a three-month medical vacation, then he moved his official duties to his official residence before finally admitting the need to seek further health treatment abroad, however, this time his health is not the question but rodents.
So, both Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina contends that the President’s health has nothing to do with this, but that a refurbishment is needed to make his office usable, the length of time needed cannot be ascertained nor the severity of the rodents damage.
None of these excuses will dampen the agitation of the nation, divided along tribal, religion and political affiliation.
As the president stated in his speech on Monday, sickness is indeed not a crime, so it is not a news that he was and probably still is sick, the issue is the lack of knowledge of the types of sickness he has or had and the big secrecy allegiance over his health.
The thing is, President Buhari does not have anything to fear over his job if he chooses to disclose his condition, the Nigerian 1999 constitution practically made it impossible for the President to be impeached or removed from office on health ground. So, the president integrity would only be enhanced if he comes out to disclose his condition and probably win some more admirers along the way.
With the current Constitutional provision, even if the president is in a coma, it can still be argued that he has not fulfilled condition of impeachment or removal, as the word “permanent incapacitation” can be used as a get out clause, thus, for a President that is still talking and walking, albeit frail, he perhaps has done nothing wrong. Whether or not this Constitution is fit for purpose would be the subject of discussion for the future.
CONDITION TO REMOVE THE PRESIDENT OR VICE-PRESIDENT FROM OFFICE ON HEALTH GROUND:
(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.
(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.
(4) the medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:-
(a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and
(b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.
While working from home is not directly frowned upon by the Constitution, the sequencing or choreography by the President and his team are raising more questions by the minutes and will be causing unease even among the most hardened supporters of the President.