- President Muhammadu Buhari has flown to London for a new round of treatment
- The president's illness remains a mystery
- His continuing health saga has sapped the Nigerian presidency of strength and direction
A report by Financial Times has revealed that President Buhari is under pressure to reveal the nature of his health.
The president departed for London for a new round of treatement on Sunday, May 7 sparking another round of debate on his capability to manage the demands of his office.
Buhari, 74, returned to Nigeria only in March after seven weeks’ treatment in the UK, but has since skipped several cabinet meetings and rarely left Aso Rock. This will be his fourth stay for medical treatment in the UK since he was elected in 2015.
When he returned to Abuja from London in March, Buhari said he had never felt he had never felt “so sick”, but was gradually recovering.
Before departing, Buhari told Nigerians in a statement, that there was “no cause for worry” and that the country was safely in the hands of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Some civil groups have expressed concern over the president’s lengthy illness, suggesting he take medical leave until he is fully recovered and hand over power to Osinbajo, who is judged by most to have done a good job in Buhari’s absence.
Although discussion of the illness of a leader is a delicate matter in Nigeria, there has been growing pressure for Buhari to put national interest first by revealing the nature of his condition.
Buhari delayed his flight to London for several hours to meet 82 Chibok girls, released after months of negotiations with Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group that kidnapped 270 school girls in 2014.
The return of the girls was a rare moment of triumph in a presidency that has struggled with the first economic recession in 25 years, a consequence of the low price of oil, on which government revenues remain dangerously dependent.
Eisili Eigbe, head of Africa for Exotix Partners, an investment company, said it was negative for investor sentiment to have a president who was out of action for such lengthy periods. He was sceptical of Buhari’s assurances that economic policy would not be affected by his regular absences and returns.
“That may not be entirely true, especially given what I believe is the different ideology between the president and some of those in the cabinet,” Eigbe said, referring to Buhari’s perceived suspicion of business and free-market policies.
“The momentum with which economic reforms should have been implemented has been relatively slow,” he added.
Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers in the National Assembly have begun moves to invoke the constitution to force Buhari to reveal his health status.
NAIJ.com gathered that the lawmakers may try to call for the invocation of section 144 (1) of the 1999 Constitution in the bid to get President Buhari’s health status revealed.