NOBEL Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has lent his voice to the call on President Muhammadu Buhari to make public his state of health.
Soyinka, during a chat with newsmen, on Friday, in Lagos, said the ongoing speculations about the president’s health are “unnecessary”.
The demand by the professor of Comparative Literature was coming on the heels of the persistent failure of the president to appear in public since he returned from his medical trip to the United Kingdom more than a month ago.
Buhari had failed to appear at three consecutive meetings of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), even as he failed to show up at the Juma’at service held inside the Aso Rock Villa, on Friday.
The presidency had tried to explain why he has not been making public appearances.
However, Soyinka, apparently not convinced by the explanation by the presidency, wondered why the president was hiding his state of health, noting that Buhari, as a public figure, should not continue to hide from Nigerians to avoid speculations about his health status.
“Why is the president hiding his state of health? He is supposed to understand he is public property. Me, I am still private property, that’s why I am not in Aso Rock. Once you are in Aso Rock or you occupy a similar position, you have a responsibility to come out frankly to your citizens.
“Guarding your state of health, like Donald Trump [United States president] is guarding his tax returns, is not what we expect from a Nigerian president. Let him address the nation and stop all these speculations which create unnecessary political manipulations, among other things”, he said.
The Presidency had issued a statement on Thursday, dismissing insinuations about the president’s alleged poor health, noting that there was no need for apprehension over his recovery.
Explaining why the president was absent from the FEC meeting, held on Wednesday, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement that Buhari was acting upon the advice of his doctors to take things slowly.
“President Buhari himself, on his return to the country, made Nigerians aware of the state of his health while he was in London. Full recovery is sometimes a slow process, requiring periods of rest and relaxation, as the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, intimated in his press briefing after the FEC meeting on Wednesday”, he said.
‘Govt must act on herdsmen attacks now’
Speaking on the invasion of his house, the Nobel Laureate said the herdsmen, this time around, came through another path to his doorstep unlike what they did when they invaded the same home last year while he was outside the country.
Soyinka said he was convinced that the recent invasion was a deliberate act of provocation, declaring that it was also a sign that Nigerians were living in dangerous times.
“We are living in dangerous times,” he said, describing the attack as life-threatening and alarming as his home and that of his neighbours were invaded by the herdsmen.
Soyinka, who said he had reported the matter to the police in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, noted that it was sad that the government was doing virtually nothing about incessant herdsmen attacks across the nation as they left behind trails of blood, pains and anguish.
The literary giant said the herdsmen were everywhere now, pointing out that they normally came to territories not as peaceful neighbours but as conquerors.
He stated that it was dangerous when herdsmen began to come to people’s doorstep, especially his home, as such invaders could become potential suicide bombers.
He called on the leadership of the country take steps to stop the incessant attacks from herdsmen. According to him, the time has come to wake up the country’s leadership to take precise action to remedy the dangerous menace of herdsmen with their conqueror’s mentality.
Professor Soyinka lamented the behaviour of the police and other security agencies, saying it was becoming imperative that the citizens should look at how to secure themselves in these dangerous times the country had found itself.
“We need to wake up the leadership, let them know the seriousness of the issue on ground; these sorts of conquerors, these herdsmen are worse than Boko Haram,” he said, adding that some action was required to make the government take drastic action.
Such action, he said, could be abstinence from anything beef in order to draw attention of the leadership to its responsibilities for it to be able to take holistic action about the issue on the ground.
Speaking further, Soyinka frowned at the plan by the government to create a grazing corridor for herdsmen in the country, saying taking such a step would compound the problem on the ground.
“Creating corridor for cattle grazing will compound the problem, I do not think that is the solution,” he said but pointed out that creating ranches for the herdsmen could be part of the solution.”
Buhari absent from Juma’at prayers
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, was unable to participate in Juma’at prayers at the Presidential Villa mosque where he normally observes the prayers.
He was also unable to attend this week’s meeting of the FEC.
Some state governors, including Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Umar Ganduje (Kano) were on hand to pray with the president but had to do so without him.
All three governors refused to speak with State House correspondents on their way out of the Villa.
Amidst mounting anxiety about his state of health, the Presidency, on Thursday, explained that President Buhari was not able to work full time because his doctors had insisted he should rest.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in Abuja, however assured Nigerians that there was nothing to be apprehensive about concerning the president’s ill health.
He said Buhari’s worst situation was in London where he spent about two months on medical vacations.
The statement read: “The Presidency hereby assures the good people of Nigeria that despite the insinuations of a number of media organisations, there is no need for apprehension over the health of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“President Buhari’s absence at the Federal Executive Council meeting of Wednesday, April 26, was a last-minute decision; otherwise, the cabinet and the public might have been alerted in advance.
“As eager as he is to be up and about, the President’s doctors have advised on his taking things slowly, as he fully recovers from the long period of treatment in the United Kingdom some weeks ago.
“President Buhari himself, on his return to the country, made Nigerians aware of the state of his health while he was in London.
“Full recovery is sometimes a slow process, requiring periods of rest and relaxation, as the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, intimated in his press briefing after the FEC meeting on Wednesday.
“Despite his lack of visibility, Nigerians should rest assured that President Buhari has not abdicated his role as Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria.
“He receives daily briefings on the activities of government and confers regularly with his Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
“His private residence, in which he has been spending the majority of his time recently, also has a fully equipped office.
“God is the giver of life and health. We are grateful that He has seen our President through the worst period of his convalescence in London.
“We are thankful that the President has passed a number of benchmarks already. We pray that God continues to see him through this period of recuperation.”
The president had drastically scaled down his activities since returning from a nearly two months of medical leave in the United Kingdom in March.