Those campaigning for a second term for ailing President Buhari are misguided

The recent orchestration of a second term bid for the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari should be dismissed as purposeful mischief. While as Africans we are enjoined by communal solidarity and fellow feeling to pray, fast and invoke divine intervention for the president, those responsible for the campaign want Nigerians to shift their gaze from the current challenge of a stewardship marred by ill-health to whether or not the president should contest for re-election in 2019. It is nothing but sheer provocation that stands condemned.

The health status of President Buhari has for months been a matter of serious public concern, essentially because he is, first and foremost, the pre-eminent citizen of our country who was elected by popular mandate. To that extent, while in office, the demarcation between his private life and public career converges in many respects and can hardly be separated.

In the current situation, the public interest issue remains whether the president can indefinitely shuttle between a London hospital bed and Aso Rock and the implications of that for governance. To begin a campaign for second term under such circumstance as some of his supporters are doing is therefore clearly irresponsible.

In fairness to President Buhari, on every occasion that he has had to travel abroad for medical treatment, he usually spared the nation any unnecessary anxiety and confusion by promptly transmitting to the National Assembly the requisite instrument of authority for the Vice-President to continue to function in acting capacity in his absence.

Notwithstanding the needless controversy over an aspect of the latest letter where the president wrote that in his absence, the vice-president will “coordinate the activities of government”, we believe that he has fulfilled the spirit and letter of the law and there is no vacuum in the leadership of the country. In any case, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has confirmed being in charge.

What that indicates clearly is that President Buhari has a strong belief in the legal basis of his power and authority as well as the elementary fact that the constitution as the ultimate law of the land is the definitive guidebook for the smooth and orderly running of Nigeria. While we must therefore wish the president speedy recovery, we hasten to warn all those who have taken it upon themselves to begin a second term campaign to desist from such pranks.

More than at any period, this is the time for politicians, especially those who claim affinity to the president, to exercise restraint in both their utterances and activities. As we have reiterated in the past, that the president is ill and seeking medical solution abroad does not affect the four-year tenure of our democratic cycle; nor does it affect the validity of the constitution or his mandate.

But it would be a great disservice to the nation for politicians to conduct themselves in a manner that suggests that Nigerians do not matter. That is why we consider it rather reckless for anybody to begin a second term campaign for a president who is currently battling health challenge abroad.

Meanwhile, we stand by our earlier position that nobody should play politics with the adversity of another person; nor must we depart from the norms of our essential African humanism which dictates empathy with those in distress and solidarity in times of communal travail. Moreover, when the head of the house is not at home in circumstances such as we find ourselves now, it is not time to engage in mischief making or unnecessary political rascality and power adventurism.

While we pray for the speedy recovery of president and hope he returns to the country very soon, all those involved in the campaigns for a second term for him must put an end to their reckless political adventure.