Nigerians have expressed divergent views about President Muhammadu Buhari’s indefinite stay abroad.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, critics demanded accountability while others sued for calm.
Exactly 50 days ago on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari left the country for London in what the State House described as a trip for medical check-up.
The latest trip has surpassed the extent of his first trip of the year in which he left on January 19 and returned on March 10. He spent exactly fifty days on that trip.
Back then, the presidency said Mr. Buhari will be away for only 10 days, which later turned out to be five times longer.
During the course of his first trip, senior administration officials, including Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers and media advisers, were providing Nigerians scattered updates about the president’s health.
Unlike the first trip, however, information flow has been in short supply this time around, which has left the citizens with little choice but to speculate.
Altogether, the president has now spent 100 days receiving medical care outside Nigeria out of 176 days so far in 2017.
Even when he dashed back to the country on March 10, he was unable to fully carry out his official duties before he was ultimately flown back to London.
Despite Mr. Buhari admitting he was ill and urging prayers from Nigerians, his office still continues to turn down request that he disclose specific details about his illness.
The presidency released a recorded audio of the president on June 24, 48 days into his latest trip. But that did little to assuage the concerns of many.
Mukhtar Dan’Iyan, a security analyst, said Nigerians should mount pressure on the government to release more details about the president.
Mr. Dan’Iyan said the fact that Mr. Buhari’s family spent the long Sallah holiday in Nigeria was suspicious.
“It’s strange that on the day of one of the most important Islamic festivals, neither the president’s wife nor his only son was by his side,” Mr. Dan’Iyan said. “This means they’ve given up on their familial duties, or the president is simply not in a position to be with anybody.”
Liborous Oshoma, a Lagos-based lawyer, raised five questions for which Nigerians much continue to demand answer from the administration.
“What is the status of the President health?
“Who is paying for his medical and or hospital bills?
“If we (Nigerians) are the ones paying, how much have we paid thus far?
“We read almost every day in the news that Mr. President is recovering fast and would soon return to his seat. Is he in any condition to continue when he returns? Or he will return and go back after a couple of weeks or months?
“Why is resignation not an option?” the lawyer said.
Deji Adeyanju, a social media enthusiast and former Peoples Democratic Party strategist, demanded immediate resignation of the president.
“President Buhari should resign,” Mr. Adeyanju said. “It’s obvious he can’t get up from his sick bed to read a Democracy Day speech and now Sallah.”
He added that the Sallah audio has created new doubts about Mr. Buhari’s condition.
But some federal lawmakers called on Nigerians to continue to display patriotism and understanding of their ailing leader.
Razak Atunwa, a member of the House of Representatives from Kwara State, said the government is running smoothly because of Mr. Buhari’s respect for the rule of law.
“With all sense of patriotism and equanimity, it is important to bear in mind that we have a president who is in a situation that is by no fault of his own.
“Having met the constitutional provisions, the president shows he is a man of rule of law,” Mr. Atunwa, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, said.
“Governance has not suffered and will not suffer for his being away,’ he added.
Similarly, Sunday Karimi, a PDP lawmaker from Kogi State, enjoined Nigerians to appreciate the actions the president took before embarking on his medical trip.
“The president did not pray for his situation,” Mr. Karimi told PREMIUM TIMES. “We owe him the responsibility to pray for him because, as Christians, we were taught to pray for those in authority.
“Within the ambit of our Constitution, what the president was required to do was to transmit a letter to the National Assembly that he had handed over to his Vice President. Which he did.
“There’s no power vacuum as we all can see the acting president performing all executive activities,” Mr. Karimi said.