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Buhari, Osinbajo and the political urchins

By Simon Abah
27 June 2017   |   3:45 am
I love the works of researchers. The opinion piece by Iyke Nwambie, a leadership consultant from Miami, Florida in The Guardian of 19, June, 2017, is no different.

I love the works of researchers. The opinion piece by Iyke Nwambie, a leadership consultant from Miami, Florida in The Guardian of 19, June, 2017, is no different. As well-intentioned as the piece is for development – there are grey areas. The writer opined that the press didn’t bother about the health of Presidents FDR and JF Kennedy ( a cover up) because unlike Nigeria at the moment, the economy wasn’t in straits (nosedive, the author’s) and people were practically having a good time as it were. (paraphrased). President Buhari should do the needful therefore and resign since Nigeria’s economy is in smithereens.

Secondly, though not a major mistake, could be a typo error, but President Woodrow Wilson – was incapacitated in 1919 and not 1914 as stated by the writer and even went ahead despite this incapacitation to outlive his successor, President Warren Gamaliel Harding who died on August 2, 1923 and Woodrow Wilson on February 3, 1924. But again if this is a typo error and Wilson was incapacitated in 1914 for 17 months as stated by the writer, who took America into the First World War in 1917 which ended in 1918? It was Woodrow Wilson. From that surmise, I can faintly imply, though I may be wrong that the writer had a hidden script for writing that piece.

I support President Muhammadu Buhari but, unlike many people, not out of blind loyalty. I have my reservations against his presidency which I have chronicled again and again. One of which is that he engages less with Nigerians. I had hoped that he would have been like General S. Patton.

Wasn’t it during the FDR presidency that America was in the Great Depression? Could the press have covered up for FDR when the life expectancy of an American male of that era was put at 62 years? An era unlike now when people who had jobs would remain in employment until they were either too sick or too old to work because there was nothing like Social Security until FDR introduced it. Historians are kind to FDR because of the presidential leadership he asserted in a straitened economy not because the American economy was well under his direction. Under President FDR, Americans were deprived of personal holdings of gold by law, and forced to submit their gold to the state, to build the economy. This led to the establishment of the largest deposit of gold reserves at Fort Knox.

Before the New Deal by FDR, people took care of themselves. Extended families stuck together. I have watched movies, where old people longed for those days because Americans looked out for one another, unlike now where prosperity has isolated Americans and there is no love as in the halcyon days. In America today, the old live in homes for the elderly, either because their children back-package around the country or because of the death of loved ones. I feel sad when well-informed writers try to distort history. Who didn’t know that JFK had a lower back problem before he joined the Navy in WW2? A back problem which he re-injured as a Naval officer, during an encounter at sea with Japanese invaders. His health was a major issue during his presidency which required plenty of rest and medications again and again. JFK had a wide approval rating not because of the economy but because of the leadership he provided even though he was a philanderer in office, which wouldn’t be tolerated now.

Michael Edward Reagan the adopted son of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan shocked the world in a book authored by him (and got flak from Reagan’s biological son and others) where he claimed that Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s disease as President. How come the presidential doctors (four) and the media missed the observations that Reagan, as his presidency wore on, couldn’t remember the names of certain people and places? Some conservative commentators say, though not proven, that after he was hit by an assassin’s bullet that he didn’t put in more than one-hour’s work daily in the White House for seven years. Could this have happened, so he wouldn’t resign the presidency? Does Alzheimer’s disease happen upon people suddenly, only after leaving office? How come, Reagan’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and disease was confirmed in 1994 when he had left office? These and more, they posited.

George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, had a heart bypass surgery in his presidency at a time of great recession. I am sure according to the thesis by Iyke Nwambie, we should assume the press missed it because the country was in good stead. No, Sir. The massive depression was inherited post-Reagan and President Bill Clinton brought the country out of it.‬

Presidents everywhere are human beings with the foibles associated with humans. President Buhari is no different. What writers should be concerned about is his capacity to make decisions and to lead. But I hear calls along ethnic lines. Is the president well enough to make rational decisions, does he still think critically? It is a well-known fact that medical records of statesmen are almost always covered up.

They let you in on what they want you to know.  President JFK Kennedy was diagnosed with Addison’s disease years before (denied by his older brother) but hid it before the presidential debate and elections of 1960. Abraham Lincoln suffered clinical depression during his terms in office. Did this mental illness dilute his legacies?‬

The problem of Nigeria is caused by the establishment not by a president. How patriotic is the Nigerian establishment? I remember when General Sani Abacha died, people cavorted. President Umar Musa Yar’Adua died, many did the same. Have Nigeria’s problems been solved by the many people who directed the ship of state after them? Will Nigeria be better off only when President Buhari dies (God forbid) or resigns? Do we have a unifier anywhere in this country that can be accepted warts-and-all by the people in all regions even with tribal war lords everywhere? The system we have and lack of leadership is our problem, not an individual’s. Such a system makes us row the affairs of Nigeria instead of stirring the ship of state. Why do we celebrate fripperies?

FDR could introduce Federal Home Loans in 1934 which made home ownership a national priority, the G.I Bill in 1944 to give veterans the opportunity to go to college, own homes and run businesses, Social Security in 1935 to secure the lives of older Americans after retirement, Smokey Bear in 1944 to raise awareness on forest fires and prevention. These were FDR’s initiatives. They did not exist before FDR’s presidency. How many ingenuous programmes do we have in the making?‬ And by whom? The press in America has been active from the late 19 century, long before the emergence of President William McKinley. Over there the press thrives on scoops. So the premise of a press keeping quiet over the health of statesmen because of robust economy they directed is misleading.

Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.