A tidal wave of Covid 19 Omicron infections is spreading everywhere in the world including Nigeria.
As COVID-19 outbreak hit Aso Rock and some of its presidential staff, the Nigerian people are concerned about President Muhammadu Buhari especially, as we know he has battled unspecified life-illnesses for some time now.
As to whether Buhari is obligated to tell the public details of his health, the short answer is – not really, at least from the point that privacy rules globally.
Although every patient by way of privacy is shielded by principle, presidential health is everyone’s interest because the health of the president is very important.
We all know that with Buhari concealment has been his mantra.
But President Buhari is not alone here. On July 1, 1893, US President Grover Cleveland boarded the yacht Oneida, supposedly for a pleasure cruise along New York’s East River. In fact, the yacht became an operating room for hidden surgery to extract a cancerous growth. He secretly had the surgery and returned to the presidential quarters.
A major type of cover-up occurs when the public realizes a president is not well, but the full extent of medical problems is concealed, as in the case of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
There are various reasons why administrations chose to conceal presidential ailments? As no one knows how news of a serious presidential illness might impact the economy, international relations, or other critical issues.
My guess is that Buhari’s ailments has long affected him in many ways in terms of full-blown presence and active functioning as a president. I believe a president’s health status can positively or negatively drive and affect policies.
In our current age of social media, it is increasingly difficult to deceive the public about a president’s health. In recent times administrations have been more transparent and many presidents’ annual physicals are made public.
In Nigeria, President Buhari’s health has come under the microscope which is a matter of legitimate public interest.
From the angle of support and sympathy, many Nigerians are not happy that his media advisors have kept the Nigerian public in the dark about his chronic ailments and medical conditions.
I think the public has every right to have a basic knowledge about Buhari’s medical situation.
Many of us remember when in 2017, President Buhari departed Nigeria for London for a so-called vacation and medical tests only to spent months on at least two different occasions with the people left anxious and in darkness about what was wrong about his health. His Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would exercise presidential authority during his absence. I believe that has only happened one time for reasons best known to Buhari who continues to go overseas for medical touch up and treatment.
This type of lack of transparency and concealment as well as confusion surrounded the illness of President Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in 2010 after a long period of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
The Nigerian people realizes that as humans we all get sick, but the lack of transparency is what gives them anxiety. The president once denied that he had died and replaced by a clone.Incredible!
From 2017 to date, President Buhari had continuously travelled to London, United Kingdom especially, spending some months for medical check-up for undisclosed illnesses.
Buhari and his advisers despite vigorous press and spirited opposition parties’ questions, concealment has been an issue.
At a time when the world is ignited with ravaging covid-19 and its current omicron variant, President Buhari and his workers seem not to be very careful. At this moment of uncertainty for a man who is chronically reportedly ill Buhari received the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Aso Rock amid concerns of the new Omicron variant first identified in South Africa.
The South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa had contracted the virus after visiting Nigeria during the West Africa tour.
President Buhari recently received his son Yusuf who was turbaned Talban Daura by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Dr. Umar Farouk Umar. There are media reports that the recent spread of the virus at the Aso Rock could be traced to his son, Yusuf’s coronation ceremony in Katsina.
Under these types of scary reports Buhari who should be placed under close observation needs to address the public about the quality of his health without any details given or authorize his doctors to do it. If he has the virus, he will not be the first as world leaders like former US President, Donald Trump and UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson have contracted the virus have made their status public.
The Nigeria people needs to understand that the president is not just an individual; he is the chief executive of the nation.
To an extent, the president loses some degree of privacy because of his public status, as such our governmental system demands he let us know something.
As the president must always be available regarding the economy, and military, it means that his state health is a matter of national security. All Buhari needs to do is tell his doctors to state of his health status it doesn’t have to be in details, and this is needed, at least for public reassurance.
As we know health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being of an individual and we live in a period when the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health crisis is generating economic catastrophe plus our security concerns.
Strengthening the economy and security and safeguarding the nation’s democracy calls for a healthy style of presidential leadership.
Just last month, President Biden, a 78-year-old male as publicly reported by White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor undertook a successful detailed neurologic exam to caution against any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis O’Connor wrote. Biden reportedly weigh 184 pounds and “works out at least five days per week,” O’Connor noted.
The president’s physical included a colonoscopy — he temporarily transferred his power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he was under anesthesia for the procedure. The brief transfer of power — was one hour and 25 minutes. The colonoscopy showed he had one benign-appearing polyp, which was removed with no difficulty.
With all the back-and-forth medical evaluations and treatments by Buhari to London or other places, we should at least know how many times he was under anesthesia for medical procedures? Each time he went under or was temporarily not alive, did he transfer temporary power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as required by law?
Nigerians must understand that democracy is about healthy institutions and not about personality, as Africans are known to be conditioned to believe. So, it is important that those who lead our institutions are fit, transparent and reassuring in all they do. We will get there, and I hope it is soon. Long live our President.
John Egbeazien Oshodi who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria, is an American based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. A former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at the Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings. In 2011, he introduced the State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and the Nasarawa State University where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. A Virtual Professor at the ISCOM University, Benin of Republic. Founder of the Proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, Openness. Author of over 40 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.
John Egbeazien Oshodi wrote in via email@example.com