The Oasis Reporters
April 7, 2021
The events in the last one week since the president travelled to London have cast the nation in a very bad light. I mean, the ridicule that has been going on in London by some Nigerians trying to “smoke” out our president from his place of medical attention.
The demonstrations, the supposed sacrifice lodged at the entrance of the Abuja House in London, the vibrations from protesters, and the general ill-feeling that now pervades the environment of our president, have pointedly made a loud statement that the world has indeed become a global village. No hiding place for anyone.
If the subject of the president’s medical tourism was for him to get some rest so that his Doctors could attend to him, he is surely not getting a scintilla of that. The president travelled a day before the National Association of Resident Doctors, (NARD), went on strike to push home their request for improved services in the nation’s health sector.
The president is also reputed to have spoken vehemently against foreign medical trips by rich Nigerians during the tenure of his predecessor. He wondered aloud why Nigerians should devote their resources to seek medical attention abroad, while leaving the nation’s health sector comatose.
Almost six years after, it is “audible to the deaf, and visible to the blind” (apology to Patrick Obahiagbon), that president Buhari’s words were the usual political rhetorics anchored on deceit to hoodwink the hapless voters. Those words have become subject of hypocrisy.
I am yet to draw my conclusion about president Buhari’s neglect of the health sector even to the point that the Aso Clinic that is designed to cater for the first family has been literally
I am yet to lay my hands on any plausible explanation as to the reason why this Buhari presidency had invested so little in a sector that he so much criticised during his campaigns. What is wrong if the president decides to revamp the health sector and make real his promise to avoid foreign medical trips?
Why is it difficult for a man of supposed “integrity” to fulfill his promise of helping to stop foreign medical tourism and save Nigerians huge capital flight?
Why is it difficult to replicate back home the services he often gets each time he embarks on these numerous foreign medical trips?
It is becoming more like playing “kalo-kalo” with Nigerians; his wife returns from Dubai, then he took his turn to London. And just imagining the protests in London against his continued stay, gives me a thought for concern and heightens the urge for a more holistic intervention in the health sector back home. If our hospitals were in good shape, will the president find his present obsession for medical tourism?
Following his initial condemnation of foreign medical trips, will it not be right to accuse him of double standard? Is he not guilty as charged? He has stayed outside the country for medical reasons more than any public officer in recent times. It is a shame!
Nigeria, under president Buhari, has become a country drifting aimlessly like a ship on the high seas, inching ever so slowly towards a gigantic iceberg with a Captain in a seemingly drunken stupor, at the wheels. A captain either totally oblivious of the impending danger or is indeed on a suicide mission, with innocent lives at stake.
A president who seems either disconnected from the plight of the people or totally incapable of showing any empathy for those he is sworn to serve.
A President in a true state of utter confusion apparently unwilling to take responsibility for the oath of office he swore to uphold. It makes one wonder, if the sole purpose of pursuing the Presidency was simply the allure and trappings of the office of the President.
While poverty is on the rise, anarchy brews in the forests, and a select few vicious vultures, waiting in the wings, ever ready to feed on the spoils that the vacuum of an absent leader creates. As the incompetence lingers, exploitation increases, bandits and kidnappers are emboldened, with monetary rewards, while the enduring flock are fed with false hope by advocating more patience.
Patience for what? For the fraud on the Nigerian people to be perfected or for the incoherent President to finally regain consciousness?
But the question is when is it time to draw the line in the sand and demand accountability from a failed government?. What compounds the problem is that he is surrounded by enablers, who have no regard for country and are strictly in power for self-enrichment. The enablers, will do everything in their power to keep the President in a state of “mental paralysis” as it serves their purpose. The President is bereft of all qualities that would have made him a good leader. He has absolutely no clear vision for the country and to date has not and is not capable of articulating what his goals are for the nation he serves. Aside from lack of a well defined vision, he is sorely lacking in communication skills. The only communication skill he seems to exhibit is how to seek foreign medical attention.
In addition, he obviously lacks crisis management skills, a key prerequisite for a strong, problem-solving leader in a contemporary world. He has shown time and time again that he is incapable of uniting this nation, eradicating domestic terrorism and has zero interest in doing so.
He cannot engage in constructive dialogue with his own cabinet on the way forward for this country, let alone give regular updates on the state of affairs of the nation. He makes all his predecessors look like saints and to say that his presidency has been a dismal failure is putting it lightly. A man who does not care about his legacy, will certainly go down in history, as the worst President, that Nigeria has ever had.
The protests going on in London are part of the symptoms of failed leadership, reason why leaders must ensure at all times that they live above board in delivering their responsibilities. If president Buhari had delivered on promise, we won’t see such rejection by his own nationals in another man’s country. They would rather celebrate him and play good hosts to him as a responsible president. But his failures have become his Achilles heels haunting his past and present, and preparing the way for his awful tomorrow.
President Buhari would have emerged the luckiest president in Nigeria if he was able to exploit the leadership gap he inherited, and consolidate on the opportunities around, to fulfill the expectations captured in the APC manifesto, chief of which is restructuring. Trying to play smart, he created his own manifesto in his heart, abandoned his party in the first three years, and ran Nigeria aground simultaneously.
The equation of a united Nigeria began to whither away, assuming a frightening dimension, each zone talking about secession and self-determination. Protest after protest, Nigerians keep agonising day in, day out as life rapidly becomes cheaper. The killing field is getting wider and wider, the killers multiplying in geometric proportion, and the stream of blood flowing from the North to the South. Our wailings are drenched in the sea of voices as our president who should offer succour is hibernating in the inner comfort of the Queen’s orchard, “unaware” of our sullen predicament.
I have this sober feeling that president Buhari surely needs help from us, but he should be humble enough to so declare. Instead of allowing sycophantic aides to continue to glorify his failures, and calling them achievements, the president should seek penitence from a populace that has become victims of his incapacitation.
Anybody can fall ill. It is nothing to celebrate about. But not being able to solve the problems for which you were so avuncular, becomes an unpardonable sin against humanity. And the neglect of the health sector is a handy reference.
And for me, the Buhari presidency has since become a retirement package for him, enabled by conquistadorial aides, ploughing our till and stealing our collective patrimony. The Vice President is kept in abeyance, seen like a suspect to the throne. The president carries with him the aphrodisiac of the villa, clutching at it with religious fervour to imprint his maximum rulership. That is surely not how to cultivate power or its allure.
Nigeria is burning everyday. From Owerri in Imo state to the far North, it is one killing after another. The Airforce is still searching for the Alpha Jet in its pockets, churning out all manner of analysis to put a lie on Boko Haram claims, but the remnants of that plane have refused to surface.
This is Nigeria of anything goes, but the unconscionable minds have no place to hide anymore. That is why president Buhari is being ridiculed and humiliated in London, but like a man in medical trouble and trauma, he appears helpless to do otherwise.
If I were in his shoes, I will board the next available flight to Nigeria and declare emergency in the health sector. But under President Buhari, that won’t happen. The moral lesson is that there is no hiding place for the good, the bad and ugly leaders. Not any more!
Written by Kaossim Afegbua.
Former Edo State Commissioner under the former APC government