Despite the assurance from the Presidential flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that he has the capacity to rule Nigeria and make it prosperous, Nigerians remain skeptical over his state of health. Adedayo Akinwale writes
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, the state of health of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has again been brought to the fore for the umpteenth time, with Nigerians expressing their views and wondering if Tinubu’s health can actually cope with the rigours of the office he seeks to occupy.
While some believed Tinubu’s health is unnecessarily being over flogged and making an issue out of it, others believed that the recent experience of Nigeria and Nigerians as regards the state of health of their previous and serving leaders makes it a good source of concern.
Since the turn of the Fourth Republic in 1999, only former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan had no underlying health issues while they presided over the country.
In the case of Late President Umar Yar’dua, he suffered from a heart condition, acute peridcarditis and also had a chronic kidney ailment which forced him to Saudi Arabia for three months to seek medical treatment.
While away in Saudi Arabia, his absence brought the nation to the brink of a constitutional crisis that threatened to paralyse the business of government. Even when he became incapacitated, it became an issue to transfer power to the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan until the National Assembly invoked the doctrine of necessity and he was sworn in as the acting President. Yar’dua later died in office.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical tourism to the United Kingdom is still very fresh in the memory of Nigerians. During his first tenure, he spent 200 days in the UK seeking medical treatment. While away, Buhari’s government was hijacked by the “cabals” who called the shots.
Political observers are of the opinion that Tinubu’s health issues weren’t an attack on him, but Nigerians are only skeptical based on experience. They explained that what Nigerians want is a president with a sound mind, whose government won’t be hijacked by cabals as witnessed in the course of Buhari’s tenure.
However, the recent mockery of Tinubu’s health by members of the Pyrates Confraternity in a video that trended online had elicited reactions from Nigerians including the founder of the association and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Soyinka in a personally signed statement last week described the lyrics of the chants of members of the Confraternity as distasteful. He said he was unaware that the association ever engaged in a collective statement of sponsorship or repudiation of any candidate.
He said: “My attention has been drawn to a video clip making internet rounds, of a dancing and chanting group, in red and white costume, purportedly members of the Pyrates Confraternity. The display acidly targets a presidential candidate in the awaited 2023 elections. Since the whole world knows of my connection with that fraternity, it is essential that I state in clear, unambiguous terms, that I am not involved in that public performance, nor in any way associated with the sentiments expressed in the songs.
“Like any other civic group, the Pyrates Confraternity is entitled to its freedom of expression, individually or collectively. So also is Wole Soyinka in his own person. I do not interfere in, nor do I attempt to dictate the partisan political choices of the Confraternity. I remain unaware that the association ever engages in a collective statement of sponsorship or repudiation of any candidate. This is clearly a new and bizarre development, fraught with unpredictable consequences.”
Also, Apostle Johnson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministry recently warned against mocking the health status of candidates.
According to him, “In as much as sound health is of the essence in leadership, I still maintain that ‘mocking’ people with their health status is way too low. Good health is from God. Unguarded and uncouth utterances aren’t the best tool for marketing your preferred candidate.”
In his intervention, Nollywood actor and director, Yul Edochie, warned Nigerians against mocking Tinubu’s health status and age. In his verified Twitter handle, Edochie said the critics of the national leader of APC have the freedom of not voting him, but insisted it was wrong to make a mockery of his age and health.
Accitding to him: “Old age is a blessing. And sickness can happen to anyone whether young or old. Making a mockery of Tinubu’s health or age is wrong. It’s okay if he’s not your candidate but making gest of him because of his age or health is absolutely wrong. You may not be lucky to see old age.”
On his part, a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, also condemned those attacking Tinubu over his health. He, however, said he would vote for the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 election.
In a tweet via his verified twitter handle, Nnamani, who represents Enugu East Senatorial District at the National Assembly commended Tinubu for the reforms in the administration of criminal justice, education, healthcare and employment of non-indigenes.
Interestingly, Ghananian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, was forced to deny writing a letter to the candidate of APC, appealing to him to give the flagbearer of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, a chance in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.
The purported letter and fake news was believed to have been engineered on social media by the supporters of Obi.
Akufo-Addo said he never told Tinubu to seek treatment for his health as contained in the purported letter making the rounds on social media.
He said: “My attention has been drawn to a disturbing post making the rounds on social media, where it is alleged I have written to the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to “give Peter Obi a chance and seek treatment for his health.”
It was based on this that Tinubu Campaign Organisation (TCO) appealed to Obi to call his supporters to order, saying falsehood being spread by his supporters won’t win him the 2023 presidential election.
TCO’s Director of Media and Communications, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement admonished Obi’s supporters to allow this election cycle to be about issues that would advance the growth, progress and stability of Nigeria.
He, therefore, called on Obi to get his supporters to desist from spreading lies, malice and denigrating other candidates, especially the presidential candidate of APC.
According to him: “We have found that the fake news about Akufo-Addo’s letter was first published on June 22 by a rogue platform, whose url reads as worlsnews.space (sic) and site identity as World of News.
“A content analysis of the site clearly showed that it is a Biafra news platform. The fake news was reposted on Facebook by the Peter Obi Support Group, same day – a clear proof that Biafra campaigners and Peter Obi supporters are the same.
Reacting to rising concerns about his alleged frail health, the former Lagos governor recently said he was qualified to be Nigerian president insisting it was not a job that required physical fitness like bricklaying and grave digging.
He said: “I am the quality that Nigeria is looking for to make this country very great, prosperous and united, not only in Africa but in the world. If you hear them saying, can I do it? I am not applying for the job of a grave digger; not race running, I am not a horse. I am not applying for bricklaying. I went to school to study accountancy and management. I am applying for a job of the brain; intelligent thinking; it is a job for someone who is ready to do things right. I will not let Nigerians down. I have the brain and capacity.”
It is quite apparent that the probing questions of Tinubu’s state of health would not go away anytime soon, but political analysts are of the view that politicians should stick to the issues on ground and stop the distraction.
While the nation’s security has continued to nosedive under the Buhari administration, the economy is in bad shape, university lecturers have spent more time at home than in the classrooms due to ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, high rate of inflation, high cost of food stuff, acute hunger, among others.
Political pundits also pointed out that given the current situation the country finds itself, an ailing country does not deserve an ailing leader and as such Nigeria deserves a leader with a sound mind to get the country out of the woods.