There is a growing level of disenchantment with the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari who has spent more of his days in 2017 outside of Nigeria, attending to an undisclosed ailment.
On May 7, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari travelled on a medical vacation to London leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the country. But his continued stay in the UK has generated so much controversies in the polity, to the extent that some Nigerians have called for his removal from office for staying out of the country for too long.
After an anti-Buhari group went on a street protest in Abuja demanding that the President either returns or resigns from office, a group of pro-Buhari protesters have also hit the streets of Abuja in support of the President.
The anti-Buhari group under the aegis of “OurMumuDonDo” led by the convener, Deji Adeyanju, and one of its leaders, Charles Oputa, (a.k.a Charly Boy) said they were on the streets to ask the President to either resume work or resign and also make public the cause of his illness.
But the pro-Buhari group, under the platform of the “Center for Civil Society and Justice” (CCSJ) led by Comrade Prince Goodluck Obi Nelson, said the President should be left alone to recover fully from his ailment and continue his fight against corruption.
While appreciable progress has been recorded in the current administration’s fight against insurgency in northeast Nigeria and corruption, the country’s economy has been in the throes of a stubborn recession that has led to the death of many businesses while inflation continues to journey upwards.
However, the Nigerian Senate and the Presidency has insisted that calls for his resignation were unnecessary distractions, stating that President Buhari has not violated any part of the constitution by staying outside Nigeria for more than 90 days.
Against the backdrop of persistent calls by the anti-Buhari protesters calling for the President’s resignation or resumption, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, has said that attempts to derail the war against corruption will not succeed.
In a statement addressing members of the pro-Buhari civil society coalition in Abuja, Mr Shehu dismissed the “return or resign” agitation describing it as an illegal assembly organised to derail the war against corruption.
“They want to distract us, but what the Acting President wants to assure patriotic citizens is that the government will not bend,” he said.
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The presidential spokesman further noted in the statement that “as far the President is concerned, he has done the needful by handing the reins of authority to the vice president”.
“Since the law of the country does not give a time limit for the president’s return, it cannot be imposed by a saber-rattling group or individual.
“By divine intervention, Muhammadu Buhari unexpectedly got elected with the ostensible mandate of reversing national decline and securing its future. He got into the villa through democratic victory at the election. Anybody desiring to replace him, whether you are a wrestler, a hairdresser or a musician, you should go through that process. In a democracy, threats don’t work,” Shehu said.
However, latest statistics from an online poll conducted by The Guardian on August 10, 2017, shows that respondents faulted the President’s prolonged absence on moral grounds.
Expressing their displeasure with the bad turn of events, 67% of 1933 respondents to poll conducted on the newspaper’s website, Twitter and Facebook pages said the ailing president should resign from his position owing to his prolonged absence.
A paltry 19% expressed support for President Buhari while a further 11 % responded that it Buhari’s prerogative to either resign or continue to lead the country. Only a meagre 3% of the respondents felt unbothered by his absence.
Moreover, in spite of President Buhari’s obvious infirmity, there are reports that his loyalists are prepared to campaign for his re-election in 2019. But they may be in for a resounding defeat if numbers from the latest poll and rounds of protests in Abuja are anything to go by.
Regardless of the vote of confidence given the president by his aides and the Senate, his polls numbers are not looking good. It will take more than the reliance on his loyal base for him to win a re-election in 2019 if he decides to run again.