Make your health status public, douse tension, NMA tells President
5 May 2017 National
Amidst growing concerns on the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, the President’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, on Thursday, disclosed that the President would go on another medical vacation.
She however said the ailing Nigerian leader would not do so by being hounded by anyone.
Onochie disclosed this on her Twitter handle, @Laurestar, while reacting to statements by individuals and groups on the matter.
She said Buhari, who returned to the country on March 10 after a 49-day medical sojourn in the United Kingdom, would embark on the medical vacation only on his doctor’s appointment.
“President Buhari will go on medical leave but only on his doctor’s appointment. Not by being hounded,” she stated.
On the reports that Buhari has not been discharging his constitutional duties as the country’s President allegedly because of his ill-health, Onochie said governance was not a one-man show.
Describing governance as teamwork, she stated that the President was working.
“The business of governance is not like splitting firewood where the axe is in the hands of one man.
“It is teamwork. So, President Buhari is working,” she added.
The presidential aide also faulted those who had raised concerns on the state of health of the President, wondering whether they would know better than the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari, who had said her husband’s health was not as bad as being reported.
Onochie stated, “Sad. People come on television to express strong assumptions as truth.
“Shouldn’t Aisha Buhari know better about her husband’s health status than SERAP?
“It is very sad that adults would hold strong opinions about something they know nothing about and make strong utterances based on assumptions.”
Mrs. Buhari had, on Tuesday, taken to her Twitter handle and Facebook page to say her husband’s health was not as bad as being perceived in some quarters.
The President’s wife had said her husband had continued to carry out his constitutional responsibilities as the President without hindrance.
The President’s wife wrote, “I wish to inform everyone that his (Buhari) health is not as bad as it’s being perceived. Meanwhile he continues to carry out his responsibilities during this period.”
The Nigerian Medical Association, on Thursday, explained why Buhari should disclose his health status to Nigerians.
The President of the NMA, Prof. Mike Ogirima, who gave the explanation in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Buhari’s disclosure of his health status would douse tension and rumours about his well-being.
Many Nigerians, including Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had asked the President to disclose the state of his health to Nigerians.
Soyinka, at a press conference in Lagos on April 28, said Buhari’s failure to publicly disclose his state of health had increased political manipulations in the country.
The Nobel laureate had asked, “Why is the President hiding his state of health? He’s supposed to understand he’s public property; me, I’m still private property, that’s why I’m not in Aso Rock (Presidential Villa).
“Let him address the nation and stop all these speculations which create unnecessary political manipulations among other things.”
Ogirima described Buhari as the number one public servant and the father of the nation, adding that he had his rights and privileges.
The NMA President stated, “He is the number one public servant and the father of the nation. He has rights and privileges. It will douse a lot of rumours and tension, if he discloses his health status to the public.”
He also faulted the management of the information concerning Buhari.
“The media team of the Presidency is not managing it (information around the President) well.
“To the Presidency, I wish they could manage the information around the President well. To Nigerians, who are concerned, I wish to advise them to be prayerful, particularly for the good health of our dear father of the nation,” he stated.
On his part, a former governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said the way forward on the controversy surrounding the health of the President was for the Senate to constitute a board of inquiry to look into the issue.
Also, the Campaign for Democracy said the President should properly hand over power to the Vice-President and seek further medical treatment abroad.
Balarabe said on Thursday that the Senate was the only institution with the constitutional powers to resolve the issue surrounding the President’s health status, since Buhari had yet to make any comment on it.
He said, “Since the President has not come out yet to say anything on the matter, Nigerians cannot give any definite comment on it.
“The only institution allowed by the constitution to look into the matter is the Senate. The Senate should constitute a board of inquiry to look into the President’s health and to tell us what it finds out.”
The CD president, Usman Abdul, said, “Why is it that there is a Vice-President? The President should be able to delegate the office to his deputy and openly admit that he is not well and needs treatment.
“His deputy should stay put, rather than the cabals shielding us from the health status of the President.
“It is very unfortunate that a cabal is misleading 170 million Nigerians over the health status of a President we voted for.
“The President should take time, even with the taxpayers’ money, and go for proper medication. He should get well and come back to rule the country.”
In his response, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the position of the NMA was an opinion that could not be taken as the gospel.
“It is a matter of opinion and the association is entitled to its opinion. This opinion does not amount to the gospel,” he said.
Also, a second Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the way out of the crisis surrounding Buhari’s health should be to invoke the provisions of Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution.
Ubani explained that the provisions of Section 144 of the Constitution ought to be invoked by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of the Federal Executive Council, declaring the President incapable of discharging the functions of his office.
He said, “After the resolution by the Federal Executive Council, the Senate President ought to constitute a panel of four medical practitioners, who specialise in the area of ailment of the President and the President’s personal physician.
“If the report of the panel declares the President as suffering from infirmity which renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, and the Senate President as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives publishes the report in a gazette, the President ceases to hold office.
“But the reality is without a time lag for these steps stated clearly in the Constitution, it will be difficult under the prevailing political environment, when the ministers are appointees of the President, to invoke the constitutional provision.”
In his reaction, a former Special Adviser to the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, said the drama surrounding Buhari’s health might have just begun.
Adeniyi, who served as the spokesman for Yar’Adua when the ex-President was sick and was incommunicado for several weeks, said this in a message on his official Twitter handle.
Adeniyi’s tweet comes on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Yar’Adua’s death.
He said, “Going by feelers from Aso Rock, the real drama of the health challenge of President Buhari may have just started.”