President Muhammadu Buhari, on August 3, left for London where the Presidency said he would holiday for 10 days.
More than two weeks after, Buhari is yet to return to the country fueling insinuations the president is either ill or does not take his job, upon which the lives of 180 million people depend, seriously. Former education minister Oby Ezekwesili accused Buhari of the later, describing the Nigerian president as a lazy man who loved the benefits of office but would have nothing with the hard work the role demands.
By our calculations, President Buhari should have returned to Abuja on Thursday, August 16. But today is Saturday and, as far as we know, Buhari is still unwinding outside the shores of Nigeria where interrupted power supply and top-notch healthcare is taken for granted.
Even if the president returned to Nigeria any moment today (as he actually has), he still would have overstayed his holiday.
Let’s do the math. Friday, August 3 to Saturday, August 18 consists 16 days (in the context of this simple math). If we take the weekends out, we have 11 working days.
President Buhari, who said he was going on a 10-day vacation, has spent 11 workings days away from office. The Presidency had said Buhari would not extend his holiday. That statement now seems far from truth. And Buhari is the man of integrity.
Buhari’s no-show comes at a time Nigeria’s military is losing soldiers to terrorist attacks, police officers are being killed (at least 30 have been killed in the last 30 days), there is heightened sense of insecurity, and Buhari’s own ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is battling to keep its house in order. In short, Buhari is missing at a time his people need him.
Let’s face it, our president is either taking things easy because of ill health, or is simply as lazy as Ezekwesili diagnosed.
Since assuming office in 2015, President Buhari has spent weeks away from work. In 2017, he spent 103 days in London treating an undisclosed ailment.
Although Buhari did not link his latest vacation to any health issue, Bayelsa East senator Ben Murray-Bruce suggested otherwise by calling the president one of London’s “most famous health tourists”.
The president, 75, has admitted to lacking pace and said he wished he was younger. He has repeatedly urged Nigerians to be patient.
Many call Buhari “Baba Go Slow” but that has not stopped him from seeking re-election in 2019.
Some Nigerians say the country needs a young president. After signing the #NotTooYoungToRun bill into law, Buhari joked that young people, who form an overwhelming majority of the Nigerian electorate, should not challenge him in next year’s presidential election.
What exactly does Buhari thinks it means to be president?