The Oasis Reporters
June 20, 2017
It is normal for human beings to fall Ill from time to time. Moreso for elderly people.
Nigerians chose the more elderly former General, Muhammadu Buhari as president in a presidential election that saw the much younger incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan conceding to the four time contestant, Mr.Buhari.
But ever since he took office, Mr. Buhari seemed to have spent more time outside his office than in it.
To constitute a cabinet took him six months while the economy slid downhill leading Nigeria into an unprecedented recession, the worst so far in 35 years.
The last 43 days has seen him outside the country attending to his health and it has been rumored that the Presidential jet parked in a hanger at Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom, is costing tax payers a lot of money.
Parking charges in London airports range from £2,500 – £4,000 per day (depending on the size of the jet.)
“That’s just parking alone”, according to Mr. Oghene Hakuna who is an avid watcher of Aviation matters
Perhaps at the very least, the private jet would have gulped slightly more than £100,000 which in naira terms, is between 33 to 43 million naira depending on the rate of exchange.
That apart, there are other sundry charges like “the cost of keeping the Crew, maintenance, HOTAC fee” and so on and so forth.
This whopping expenditure is being incurred at a time that the economy has been plunged into a recession, when the combined budget of all of Nigeria’s teaching hospitals pale into insignificance compared to just the Aso Rock Presidential clinic alone , which is the best stocked hospital in Nigeria meant to service primarily, the president and his family.
Still he hardly ever uses it.
Yet millions of hapless Nigerians find it extremely difficult to access basic medical facilities in their various localities, with many of such facilities described by Mr. Buhari as “mere consulting clinics” during his first stint as military head of state, 34 years ago .
When many Nigerians are not asking for Buhari’s whereabouts, they still want to know how long the president is permitted to be absent from duty, constitutionally.
Some say it can not go beyond 90 days, going by the experience the nation had with a former president who spent more time in hospitals abroad than in his presidential palace, until he “transmitted” power to his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
President Yar’adua was ironically young but sickly, lending credence to the fact that ill-health is no respecter of age.
Meanwhile many Nigerians are insisting that the president ought to resign and attend to his health, rather than keep power by merely making his deputy, a ‘coordinator of national affairs’ in a letter he transmitted to the National Assembly.
The next 47 days may present some interesting challenges, unless a leeway is ‘invented’ to avoid a constitutional lacuna while worried Nigerians sit back to watch the the events play out.
Nigerians would recall the riposte to then President Jonathan by the then governor of Lagos State, now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Raji Fashola who accurately captured the mind of the All Progressives Congress, APC, leaders then, when the sixth Bola Tinubu Colloquim was being held in Lagos, March 2014. He asked the audience if they wanted as president, ”someone who spends most of his time in church or mosque, or a man who is ready to spend his time on the job”.
That unfair broadside at Jonathan has now come back to haunt Fashola. Were another Bola Tinubu Colloquim be held today, would the Minister ask if Nigerians would ‘prefer an absentee president who prefers to abandon his clinic in Nigeria and stay for months on end in a London hotel?