President Buhari’s health shines spotlight on him

What you need to know:

  • The Nigerian leader's spirit may be willing to serve the people but his body is failing him.
  • Even Pope Benedict XVI left office when he realised his health could not cope with the demands of his position.

As concerns mount over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health and its cost on Nigeria, it is important to reflect on his administration and the lessons to learn from his predicament.

Buhari fought relentlessly to win the presidency after several attempts.

He got it eventually when Nigerians were yearning to walk away from the corrupt and clueless administration of Goodluck Jonathan as investigations by various national and global agencies now reveal.


The election of Buhari buttressed the assertion that old-school politicians would continue to be recycled when younger ones prove to be incompetent.

Nigerians were hopeful that with Buhari and his legacy as a military Head of State, the country would be salvaged from the systemic decay witnessed for years.

Though Buhari was slow from the beginning, he looked like he had a vision for Nigeria and took bold and harsh steps to set the ball of the desired change rolling.

He has confronted corruption and Boko Haram insurgents with remarkable success.


There are many other steps of his administration that reveal the heart of a leader prepared to subject Nigerians to short-term pain for long-term gain of productivity and stability.

Such firm and positive but unpopular steps are needed to rescue Nigeria from the grip of the few who see and run the affairs of the country as their kitchen.

The president clearly has something to offer though his health is failing him.

It is obviously frustrating to Nigerians and the Head of State himself.


As president, Buhari is the captain of a large team whose cooperation is significant to its success.

His spirit wills that public service institutions operate optimally but the body of those to implement the wishes fails to work in tandem.

This is probably the most painful parallel to be drawn between Buhari’s situation and his administration.

He must have found it frustrating that his close allies were the same ones undermining his good intentions.


The enemy within is the worst thorn in the flesh. Buhari is probably sick of the overwhelming ailing system.

The spirit and the body are equal and important partners. Both must be on the same page for dreams to be realised.

With a long battle for a healthy life, Buhari must come to terms with his fragile humanity and hopefully weigh his health in relation to the demands of his office.

Life is the ultimate consideration in this situation. It is great for Buhari, being a good Muslim and disciplinarian, to place his life above his office and honourably resign in the interest of the country.


Nigerians appreciate that Buhari is concerned about the country but would not want his illness to hold down the nation.

It is also a big lesson for leaders who see themselves as indispensable and hence deeply engrossed in a die-in-office mentality.

These are the same kind of leaders who do not believe that the world can not move without them.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a sad and clear example. There are others in Africa.


Pope Benedict XVI is good example of one who could have remained in office until death but chose to step aside when he felt his health was failing him.

The national interest must therefore come first over any personal motivation to take the country to the elusive promised land.

Old age, ill-health and death are ways nature helps us to realise our mortality and the need to let go of power and material attachment.

Let us always appreciate the gift of life and good health and put our healthy life at the service of others much as we feel called to.


When doing this becomes a tall order because of ailment or age, we should accept the situation and withdraw from public service.

It might seem heroic but objectively it is a grave social sin to remain in office when sick.

That amounts to sick service and ultimately a disservice to oneself.

It is good for Nigerians to appreciate Buhari’s efforts at taming corruption, decimating Boko Haram among other notable achievements.


Part of this appreciation is to key into his vision of a sanitised Nigeria and pray for his recovery if this be the will of God.

Buhari would in any case remain a reference point for subsequent leaders as a courageous and determined man who intently began Nigeria’s journey to recovery.

Our litany of problems offers chances for enviable growth.

Buhari has done well to make this heroic start and Nigerians have a duty to take this beyond Muhammadu Buhari.