Monday, February 13, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Erik Esbjörnsson: Irony clear when the Nigerian leader Buhari finally breaks silence on his health

This was in the world news section of this morning's Dagens Nyheter ( Sweden)

Erik Esbjörnsson: Irony clear when the Nigerian leader Buhari finally breaks silence on his health

(My translation) :

"On Thursday Nigeria's presidential palace tweeted out a picture of the country's leader Muhammadu Buhari, 74, dressed in an ankle-length kaftan meeting with party colleagues on a visit at the residence Nigerian Ambassador at Abuja House in London. As evidence that the place and the occasion was London right now, and not plucked out of an archive, they showed an outdoor picture in which the people in the group photo were wearing scarves.

It was undeniably important to hit the brakes on the rumour mill in Nigeria. A large part of the country's 200 million inhabitants has over the past week been debating and discussing the president's health status.

It started last Sunday when it was announced that President Buhari's trip to London, for health reasons, be extended by a week. The silence that followed from the presidential palace sparked speculations.

They do not say what he was treated for, it must mean that it is serious - is he alive?

And that's how the discussions continued and also became political: aren't the Nigerian health facilities good enough for the president?

A Muslim leader noted accurately in the local newspaper the Daily Post that Buhari is only mortal, and "all mortals, disease is inevitable, as well as life and death."

Visit over, President @MBuhari sees off his guests. Abuja, London, this afternoon.
- Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) February 9, 2017

Now Nigerians are not more morbid than other people but speculation is justified. For the mortality rate is incredibly high among Nigerian heads of state - over 30 percent. Of the 13 people who ruled the country since independence four have died while in office. Two of them were executed in military coups, but the last two deaths occurred naturally.

When dictator Sani Abacha in 1998 fell asleep in bed, surrounded by two prostitutes, many speculated that he had been poisoned.

Twelve years later, a many month's long power vacuum when Musa Yar'Adua fell ill and was on a life support respirator without revealing this to the people . The debate about who would take over the office of president raged on and many suspected a conspiracy by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan's camp.

As it was said in the Senate "... if you had acted in line with the Constitution and activated the necessary mechanisms to explain that the president was incapable of running the country, we would never found ourselves in this situation."

The speaker, who demanded the impeachment of Yar'Adua, of course, was Muhammadu Buhari. The irony can not be mistaken.

No, it's not fun to be ageing.

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