America’s first President, George Washington, struggled with bouts of illnesses from the time he was 17 years old. Oh
Washington suffered from diphtheria, malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, dysentery, pleurisy, and pneumonia. Once, and four times within a 12-hour period, doctors purged him of anomalous blood flowing in his veins to rescue him from the paw of death. And then, he had epiglottitis from which he couldn’t recover. He succumbed to death at age 67.
Zachary Taylor was America’s 12th President. He contracted cholera morbus on July 4,1850 while in office. Physicians administered doses of mercury and opium on him; but the president died just five days later; less than a year in office.
Friends, the strongest of men dies. The best of women expires. The most affluential and influential ends up in a casket; and then interred six feet below. No rich man can run from death. The poor has signed a pact with it. A man born of a woman has limited days on earth. Man was born to die. Anyone made in the image of God and fashioned into existence by breath from His nostrils is vulnerable to death.
Kings in their vast palaces kick the bucket; so do their accompanying queens. Some magical men who tap into the dark side of the spiritual realm want to make us believe they can suspend death and keep us in suspense. At the end of the mumbo-jumbo melodrama, the suspender and suspended get expended. None of us can suspend the work of God done in His might and Majesty.
Death is God’s messenger. He said dust we all are; and to dust we shall all return. If you are a greedy governor, one day you will die. If you are a gluttonous senator, at the appointed time, you will pass on. Reprehensible representatives will succumb to the swinginggavels of the Grim Reaper when the alarm goes off. Sicknesses do not necessarily precede all manner of deaths. Some people sleep sweet after munching on delicious pounded yam with egusi soup; and then, it’s over. Some die old and some very young.
But in many cases, humans get entangled in protracted illnesses and then conk out. Our bodies of clay get weakened over time by the hustles and bustles of life. Some of our errors and missteps in the days of youth and ignorance catch up with us. Our lifestyles incrementally batter our vital organs and chew up on the better part of us. For all, there will come a day of judgment when no one is able to defend oneself in the court ofrepercussion from sickness.
My President, Muhammadu Buhari, is just like you and me. He possesses not any type of superior immune system. No matter how powerful a president is, he gets sick. It is human to be ill. And it is divine to die. Professional politicians’ ignorant attempt to hide what naturally befalls man is what still baffles me. When President Umaru Yar’Adua was ill in 2010, his men covered it all up for a while. Overzealous surrogates kept his sick body away from the curious eyes of Nigerians. Eventually, those that were kept in the dark about his illness ended up giving the amiable man a befitting burial. Is this déjà vu all over again in Nigeria? I hope not! But the body language from Buhari’s men is confusing us to the hilt.
About two weeks ago, the Presidency announced that Buhari was tripping out on vacation to the United Kingdom. We were told that during the 10-days’ stay, he would also be visiting his doctor for routine check-up. Intense rumours began flying afterwards that Mr. President was either dead, dying, in a coma or had been buried. I joined many others defending a President I didn’t know his whereabouts. “He will soon be back”, I told friends and foes. I have since quit that business.
The 10 days’ vacation ran out; then, an announcement rang in indicating an extension had been requested until a date unspecified. In a democracy, how can a Presidency audaciously declare that it doesn’t know when a Head of Department is resuming work?
I will never offer a death wish for even an adversary. Far from it that I’ll think it up for Buhari. But the man is 74 years old, for God’s sake! The man has lived a full life and has fulfilled his destiny. His eyes have seen his children and grandchildren. Buhari will not be committing a felony because he fell ill. He will not be offending God because he is physically weak. But men around him are committing sins against man and God because of their refusal to come clean about the President’s health status.
I uphold our President in prayers; and I don’t have to know his specific ailment. May God make him whole and well. But If some serving state governors do not know the status or whereabouts of their Commander-In-Chief; if people who are speaking for the President in varying capacities aren’t sure of the true picture but cast it to the public anyway; if close associates of the President are prevented from speaking with him or visiting so they can have a peace of mind; if all the information Nigerians receive are just rag-tag, a-piece-here-a-piece-there rambling and babbling guess work, then handlers of Mr. President should know that they are creating more problems than evincing solutions.
Is there anything new under the sun? When the 24th US President, Grover Cleveland, took office in 1893, he noticed a little bump or rough spot on the roof of his mouth; his cigar-chewing side! Time went by, and the spot grew into a big tumour that was later diagnosed as cancer. Wow! Cleveland believed he had to keep the news away from the American people. The presidency then chose to deliberately deceive the country. Cleveland’s handlers announced that the president had an “extremely bad toothache”; and the tooth had to be extracted. They also announced later that the president was going on a four-day fishing trip on a friend’s yacht called the “Oneida” from New York to Cape Cod. On the yacht, they loaded a team of six surgeons, dentists, and an anesthesia specialist. In just 90 minutes, the medical team removed the tumour, five teeth, and a good portion of the president’s upper jaw bone. They surgically repositioned his moustache to cover the scars. If this Buhari saga is a cover up, it’s not good for the image of a man known to be fighting corruption. Cover up is corruption.
Conflicting words from the Buhari administration are dangerously discombobulating.
Some surrogates publicly say the President is ill; other voices say he is not. One of the President’s men say Buhari is awaiting results from a series of conducted medical tests; and another one say he is neither in a hospital nor ill. I know some of them are doing their jobs. Who dares announce that the king’s mother has gone mad; right? Not in Nigeria. No one knows when Buhari is coming home.
This story is concerning because the nation is in comatose. Conditions in Nigeria are not standing still; they are dying standing. Even with an up-and-about and in-charge President over the last 21 months, there has been gnashing of the teeth and pain in the land. An absentee President and a nauseatingly directionless presidency are a catastrophic combination pushing the country into a foreseeable hell. We know the mess Buhari inherited, but that skunk is no longer a relevant jive for Nigerians who are desperate for a clean-up job from a messiah in mufti. We are in a conundrum; and only the reappearance of Mr. President will unravel the ruse riddle. I wish Muhammadu Buhari and family well! Always.