By Godwin Okafor
According to the Nigerian constitution, the president is entitled to 60 days of annual leave, By law he can be removed for medical reasons if his Cabinet concludes that he’s become incapacitated, an unlikely act from loyalists, according to Clement Nwankwo, an Abuja-based constitutional lawyer.
Only the national legislature has the power to unseat Buhari. For that to happen, two-thirds of lawmakers and the ruling party must support the move.
A president who’s flown abroad to seek medical treatment and given no firm date for his return: Nigeria has been here before.
Muhammadu Buhari, 74, traveled to the U.K. on Jan. 19 for medical tests and was due back on Feb. 5. He’s yet to return and hasn’t appeared or spoken in public for more than three weeks after asking lawmakers for medical leave. But on May 7, the ailing president returned back to United Kingdom for further medical treatment with no date of return in sight.
. He was making short medical trips to the U.K. even before he took office. Only once did his office reveal a specific purpose: treatment of an ear infection in mid-2016. Otherwise, his spokesmen said that his trips were for tests and that he’s “hale and hearty.” While Buhari appeared in photographs with visitors during his stay in London earlier in the year.
Meanwhile statements from his wife Aisha re-assured his followers that
President Muhammadu Buhari is recovering fast from an undisclosed illness will be back “soon”
But on June 3, Mrs Aisha flew back to London to visit ailing president, after attending an HIV-AIDS conference in Ethiopia, her spokesman said in a statement late Sunday, fueling concern about his ability to see through the rest of his term that ends in 2019.
History of Nigeria succession jitters
For many Nigerians the situation recalls former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s time in office. Like Buhari, Yar’Adua was a northern Muslim with a southern Christian vice president in a country with often sharp sectarian divisions.
Yar’Adua was flown in November 2009 to Saudi Arabia for treatment of a heart condition. It took about three months for the legislature to appoint then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan acting president, as Yar’Adua associates sought to cover up the severity of his condition. Yar’Adua eventually died in office on May 5, 2010. Unlike Yar’Adua, Buhari formally transferred power to his vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, before departing.
“The experience of 2010 still hangs over Nigeria,” Antony Goldman, head of London-based PM Consulting, said by phone from London.
Under the constitution, if Buhari can’t continue in office, Osinbajo would become president and he would choose a new deputy.
Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria, launched the extraordinary attack on her husband in a BBC interview where she claimed he “does not know” the majority of the senior officials working under him.
She also threatened to drop her support for the former military dictator at the next general election unless he reshuffles his cabinet.
“The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years,” she said.
Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian president reacted to his wife’s comments that she “belong to the kitchen” on Friday after she accused him of being out of touch with his government and threatened to drop her political support.
That’s not stemmed rumors of politicians jockeying for position to succeed Buhari, a former military ruler. The presidency has only said that Buhari is undergoing medical checks and has declined to disclose further information about his condition.
Acting president Osinbajo has denied rumors that he’s under pressure from northern politicians to quit rather than be elevated to president. In such a scenario, Senate President Bukola Saraki, a Muslim, would take over, but only as a caretaker president until fresh elections are organized within three months. That would give the north a shot at winning the presidency.
Meanwhile, the governor of Ekiti State Ayodele Fayose has been the spokesperson of opposition parties in Nigeria, in a recent attack, th governor alleged that ailing president Muhammadu Buhari has been on life support in the last 20 days and that he should resign immediately.
He described as fake the audio Sallah message of the president, saying it was a futile effort to deceive the public.
Mr. Fayose called on those he called “cabal” in the presidency to allow the president to resign quietly, rather than plunge the country into a crisis.
According to him, the president has spent 53 days (actually 52 days) in London to attend to his health challenges, but no official information as to his whereabouts and his state of health has been made available since he left.
He said verifiable facts from London at his disposal and within the All Progressives Congress, APC, and particularly from those serving in Mr. Buhari’s government confirmed that the president’s health situation had worsened.
“Like every other Nigerian, I do not wish the president death. I have therefore maintained dignified silence since we were told that the President embarked on his second medical trip abroad this year.
“However, the recorded audio message which was released by the Presidency as the President’s Ramadan message to Nigerians necessitated my setting the records straight today.
“No doubt, the audio message was only a damage-control strategy aimed at further deceiving Nigerians.
“That the audio message does not represent the truth as our President does not only have voice impairment, he has been on life-support since June 6, 2017 at a West-End, London Hospital.
“Of a fact, our First Lady, Her Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, was not allowed to see her husband during her last visit to the United Kingdom if only she will be courageous enough to admit.
“Only three Nigerians who are of the President’s cabal are allowed access to the President. I will keep their identities for now.
“Anyone with contrary claim should produce the President to Nigerians within the next 48 hours. It is obvious that Nigeria is drifting like the last days of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s government.”
Mr. Fayose recalled that he warned Nigerians against electing President Buhari on account of his age, health and mental capacity.
“Nigerians will also recall that when they released pictures to the press claiming that President Buhari had an interview with Kemi Fadojutimi of ‘All Eyes on Africa’ TV Show in London, on Monday, February 23, 2015, I proved to the whole world that the interview was conducted in suite 881 at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja,” he said.
Mr. Fayose alleged that there were plots to kill him and truncate his government, but said he was not afraid to continue to speak the truth.
He said the federal government should be held responsible should anything untoward happen to him.
“Dear Nigerians, even though President Buhari needs our prayers and we should keep praying that God takes total control of his situation, it is equally imperative that our leaders must tell us the truth at all times,” he submitted.