15th August made it exactly 100 days since President Muhamadu Buhari Nigeria for London to attend to his ailing health. Ever since the president left the country, the presidency has repeatedly assured Nigerians that he was getting better and would soon return to the country.
READ ALSO: Pro And Anti Buhari Protests Rock Abuja
Photos of the president meeting with different categories of public officials and politicians in London, where he is receiving treatment, have been circulated to calm concerned citizens . Also, officials who have met the president including Acting President Yemi Osinbajo have repeatedly said president Buhari was getting better and would soon return to the country.
However, controversy has continued to trail President Buhari’s continued absence from the country and various individuals have reacted to the president’s medical vacation, giving different opinions on the matter.
Mr. Dele “The thing is that our president is like every other human being, he can be sick. Go to hospitals in Nigeria here you can see people who have been there for the past how many months, even up to a year, so he is not different from any other person, he can get sick. But because he is our president and the number one citizen, everything he does should be done in the public, people should be able to know the state of the health of the president.
Also when he came, that is this government, they came to change the wrongs that the former government did, so if they came to do the right thing, every other thing should be right. What we are asking is that, why should the president of Nigeria be sick and they can’t tell us what is even wrong with him and when he is coming back.
The president has been away for hundred days. Hundred days is enough to do a lot of things and if he was just elected, he should be celebrating his achievements in hundred days in office. So if you have stayed in the hospital for hundred days, that means everything is on hold and you came as a saint to change and I’m one of the Nigerians that is asking questions, why should our president be sick and we don’t know what is wrong with him?
The one that bothers most Nigerians is that the number one aircraft is parked there in London, whether it is at lower cost, because they said it’s at lower cost since the demurrage has been slashed to 50% but even at that, that 50% can impact the lives of Nigerians or some sectors of our economy.”
A public servant who pleaded to be anonymous had this to say”Hundred days out of Nigeria as a president is a long time, I’m worried because section 145 of our constitution says that either the senate president or the vice president should not act for more than 3 months.
In fact, once he acts for more than 6months, he seizes to be acting and substantively becomes the president, but people read the constitution upside down to suit them. People that are saying he handed over power to the president so he can stay there forever, I don’t think so.
Okay, apart from the constitution, what of the morals? They are still paying him the salary as a president and all the benefits even while in London, this is Nigeria tax payers’ money.
Yes anybody can be sick but since he is having health challenge and its prolonging, he should come back home, resign and take care of himself. I feel the president will live longer if he comes back, resigns and then takes care of himself because that burden of people on a president is enough pressure on his health so I don’t know why people are saying he should come back and resume office.
Most of these people are saying he should resume office just because they are gaining from it, not that they care about him. ”
Mrs Asaka“First, the president has done what needs to be, he has handed over power to the vice president but psychologically, what it does to the people is that “the father of the house is not home so people feel like the leadership is lacking in one part but it’s just a mindset.
Constitutionally, it has been taken care of. From most of the things we far, there in the Nigerian house in London, he still performs certain obligations of which it’s carried on our news every day. With the day to day running of activities in this country, I think we are still in order. All we have to do is to have that patience and also have that mindset that whether he is here or not, it’s still the same.
Even for the fact that it’s not clear on what is happening to him but to me, when it comes to health matters, that is a personal matter, he has the right to divulge it or not. Its true that he is a public figure and people would want to know what’s going on with him but we’ve heard recently that he is working on doctor’s advice so who wouldn’t.”
Joseph a commercial driver said – “I want to base my contribution on morals. Morally is it fair to all concern even if a letter is transmitted according to what they are saying and its becoming obvious that we are not seeing the President because i dont know how long it will take him to come back. if you see the protest the anti and the pro that is happening, it is divided on an ethnic line and this is not good for a country like Nigeria because we are deceiving ourselves that we are one.
It is not about violence, the country can not be governed by a leader that the supporters are violent. I was driving my car the Other day and i ran into pro-buhari protest group and because they saw a PDP flag in my car, they started hitting my car, if not because i was quiet, also they though i was a soldier because of the jacket i wore, they would have lynched me. Is that correct?
According to the last video of the President and his media team, he looked very much ok to me, why cant he come back and cool all these tension in the country”.
Another respondent who identified himself as Tajudeen said “As it is we don’t know the intensity of his sickness, we need to consider so many factors, one we are talking about somebody with a track of achievements.
We do not really know what has happened to him, and we are only hearing so many stories surrounding the sickness but at this stage, i think we have endured enough but all the same we still have to give him some time to now get himself back.
Our duty as citizens is to pray for him and once we pray for him, i think God is going to hear our prayer and that is just the best thing we can do because we all have a stake in the development of this country.”
Telimu who identified himself as a journalist had this to say- “It is abnormal, but he didnt travel out willingly it was based on his health challenges though we are not happy because his absence in the country has been causing some short comings.
The Vice President is the Acting President, nobody is occupying his office and it has led to many speculations, constitutional interpretation which has led to so many protests here and there. The way forward is for Nigerians to be patient and pray for the president for a quick recovery.”
With all the controversies, the big question is, what does the constitution say regarding the current situation? Barr. J. Tukura, a Legal Practitioner here in Abuja speaks on the issue.
“With regards to the present situation of things, the president left the country and he transmitted to the senate as it is required by the constitution that he will be absent. The constitution did not spell out a specific thing, it could be for a vacation, and it could be for medical purpose as it is the case now. What the constitution says is that the president should transmit power, but when that is not done, then it behooves the senate president, after 21 days to ask the vice president to step into the shoes of the president as acting president. But the president was able to cover that aspect of the constitution which is expected of him, so right now, there is nothing constitutionally wrong with the situation of things now because we don’t have a vacuum when you talk about the office of the president since there is an acting president.”
How long should the acting president be in acting capacity?
How long the acting president can hold power is not stipulated, that means the constitution intended it not to be timed so he can stay there for the remaining years. You see, that’s what the constitution sort of left out. But the national assembly can amend this part and cup it to time they have not yet done that and until they so do, there is nothing wrong with what the president is doing, until the senate president is convinced that president is not mentally fit to govern then he can step in.
How long should the president be absent before the National Assembly or the Senate President can act?
The constitution is very specific in this aspect. It says that the senate president, should he be convinced that the president is no longer mentally stable to govern (this one is tied to health) then he can step in. what happens is that, all of this powers lies with the senate such that after their investigation to ascertain the health status of the president.
And as it is, the senate president went to visit the president not too long ago and he came back said he is doing alright so I don’t see any lacuna per say because the constitution has spoken with regards to all of these things. It is just that we are concerned that he has stayed this long. But the big question should be that, has he done anything constitutionally wrong? No, if it’s not affecting his mental capacity to deliver on his job.
Should it be that he is incapable for certain medical reasons, then it’s the job of a team or a panel of investigators set up by the senate to bring out that bit. Also if you read the constitution, you will see that there are stages to this situation.
First of all, it’s for a rational human being to see the person involved and gauge that perhaps there is something missing or there is something wrong of which you would say that the senate president and many other members of the national assembly have gone to see the president and all seem to speak with one accord that the president is recuperating and is doing well.
So if he were to be unfit, then it will behoove the senate to set up an investigative team to which will be made of medical experts that is suspected to be the ailment of the president.
Do Nigerians have the right to know the health status of the president?
If we run a presidential system which is hinged on the constitution and the constitution is silent on whether the president should divulge his health status, then it means that is discretionary to him. If he decides to act as a gentle man and says okay I have abc condition, that’s his discretion. And if he decides that he does not want Nigerians to know, maybe he doesn’t want people to go into panic, that’s still at his discretion.While the president remains outside the country, the controversy surrounding his health and fitness to continue in office lingers. One of the protesting groups demanding he returns immediately or resigns led by popular musician and entertainer, Charles Oputa a.k.a Charly Boy, has suspended their protest indefinitely. The suspension came a day after members of the group escaped lynching in the hands of pro-Buhari protesters at Wuse market, Abuja.