Erstwhile Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati, has praised the Presidency for the way it has managed the issues around President Muhammadu Buhari without generating needless news and unwarranted panic.
Abati gave the commendation in Lagos while fielding questions from the media on the state of the nation.
He said that due to political or national security considerations, it was expedient for Buhari’s team to shroud the nature of his illness in secrecy.
Abati said that the situation of a sitting president requiring medical attention for a relatively long period was not new, noting that several countries across the world, especially France and United States of America manages the President’s ailment as state secrets.
He commended Buhari for delegating powers to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to hold forth for him in order to ensure the wheels of state continued to roll and grind pending his return from his medical vacation.
He however, criticized top government functionaries who travel to London to see Buhari, take photographs with him and post on social media, accusing them of turning the situation into a circus.
“What you find is that presidencies all over the world, particularly in US and France, try to manage the sickness of the president because it is delicate, and you cannot blame his media team for being careful because of either political or national security considerations.”
“It is natural for people to be anxious about the health of their president. You cannot question that. But it is also the responsibility of those managing the situation to avoid unnecessary news and cause unnecessary panic.”
“The first point is that the office of the President is the most important office in our American-style democracy. The person of the President is also very important because people look up to the President for inspiration; for strength; for confidence, and when the President is ill, it could have implications for a lot of things within the economy so people are concerned.”
“But one point we must take away from this is that presidents are also human beings, who can fall sick. They also have an immune system that can fail them sometimes. So, the president can fall ill.”
“What you can take from all of this is that President Buhari has acted well but handing power over to the Vice-President who will then become the acting-president. There is a single Presidency in Nigeria. So even the job of an acting-president is delegated authority, because what we are dealing with is temporary incapacity in the eyes of the law.”
“What I have criticized in this matter is people turning Buhari’s health situation into a circus. I wrote a piece and people are saying ‘Oh, you are mocking an old man.’ I am not mocking an old man, because if care is not taken everybody will want to go to London and take selfies and post on social media.”