The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo
There is a conscious effort to paint some quarters black before Mr. President. It is beginning to look as if some people do not want others to go to London to see the President who has been ill and allegedly in a London hospital, awaiting full clinical clearance before returning to his desk at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja. Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State has gone and returned.
Two APC top-notchers Ashiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande also went. I am not talking of Aisha Buhari, the President’s wife, who has every right to relocate to her husband’s location till the clearance is given. It is in her place to stay in and around the hospital and attend to all other matters that the doctors and nurses on duty cannot handle. Every visitor to the President including his wife, Aisha, stayed on one line. They have called on Nigerians to pray for the President.
Even folks that have not embarked on the London visit have also called for national prayers for the President. The entire country is being mobilised for prayers. I do not know about other faiths but in the Catholic Church, which I belong, we do not embark on this open show of piety regarding the country’s leaders. Every Sunday, we pray specially for the President and other managers of the polity. It is a constant and essential component of the liturgy. We do not wait till leaders get critically ill before praying for them.
Don’t get me wrong. It is good to pray for the recovery of sick people. But there is this heightened feeling of mortality when the calls for prayer in such circumstance become excessive as the case with the President’s ill health. Before you get me crucified, let me also add that I am a subscriber to the belief that while the doctor cares, God does the actual cure. But healing in most cases is more scientific than it is miraculous.
It is only in Africa, especially Nigeria with a large population of miracle-working Pentecostal pastors, that people seek magicians instead of physicians when they fall ill. It explains the geometric growth of religion over other indices in this economy, such that it is much easier to site churches and mosques anywhere in Nigeria than to site hospitals, schools and even industries. It is as if the two dominant faiths – Christianity and Islam – are native to us.
That is by the way. Last week, it was the turn of Senate President, Bukola Saraki and House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara to visit the President in London. It is interesting to note that for the first time since the visits to see the President started, there was an expert opinion on the state of health of the President. Dr. Saraki who studied medicine in the UK and practiced there for a while told us that; “the President is hale and hearty” and even added that the man would resume soon from his 10-day vacation, which has been re-designated indefinite medical vacation.
While other visitors merely called for prayers, Bukola, apparently tapping from his background as a medical doctor pronounced the President fit to return. But since we are in a democracy, I will like to put to vote the matter of President Buhari’s fitness to return to work. And here we go: those in agreement with Saraki’s medical opinion, say aye, and those against, say nay!
The ayes have it. Saraki went and examined the President in the presence of a lawyer who ensured that no aspect of the examination was violated. Look at it this way. If the path to recovery from an ailment is between listening to a pastor or politician and listening to a pathologist, any wise man and woman will settle for the latter and thereafter pray to God to guide the doctor in the administration of the clinical solutions. The pastor can always come after the doctor must have finished, to say his prayers. It is the same thing here. Saraki, the doctor, has finished matters. Any other opinion is neither here nor there, even though one commentator had advised last week that, no clinical opinion from Saraki who had parted ways with medical practice since God knows when and might not recognize anymore a stethoscope if he saw one, should be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, expert opinions on the health of the President are coming from too many quarters. Pastors are talking, native/witch doctors are talking too even as prophets across faiths and denominations churn out prophesies that point at nothing specific. The information minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the President’s media aides have been saying things too. They have made the indeterminate adverb, ‘soon’, sound so elastic that it can be applied to define every measurement of time. Ask Lai Mohammed, for instance, when the President is returning and he will say “soon.” Put the same question across to Femi Adesina and he will add an intensifier to make the answer “very soon.” Return the question to Shehu Garba and he will get loquacious with details of the phone conversation between Buhari and Trump and so-called ‘takeaways of other offshore engagements of President Buhari’ and will leave you even more confused.
It is amid this staccato that Dr. Saraki forced himself back to medical practice, last week, to examine the President and pronounced him ‘hale and hearty.’ He is the first medical expert to say something definite on the seemingly fluid state of health of the President. He should be applauded. Even the doctors in UK have been largely silent. The Senate President only needs to do a little more explanation of ‘hale and hearty’ and say precisely at one point in medical practice is a sick man who has been certified ‘hale and hearty’ and as fit as fiddle permitted to resume normal duties. A man cannot be hale and hearty and still stay out of his duty post for too long. That kind of situation is called dereliction of duty in management and it attracts consequences, which may include termination of appointment without benefits.
What I am saying is that all the visitors to London, including Aisha Buhari, are not presenting faithful reports, probably due to the fact that none of them is a reporter. They are politicians and a housewife. It is the turn of a reporter to visit the President in London and file a report that will be far more reliable. I am presenting myself. In other words, it is my turn to visit Buhari and I can promise you that my report shall be factual and objective. I shall talk to all sides; I shall talk to Buhari himself, the doctors and other medical personnel handling the treatment, APC members and Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. The accompanying photographs shall leave no suggestions of photo-shop artistry. After I have gone, returned and filed my report, walahi talahi, all questions shall be answered and there shall be no need for further visits to Mr. President in London. The planned visit of a delegation of the Governor’s Forum will become absolutely unnecessary.