- President Muhammadu Buhari's health crisis is still a trending topic in Nigeria
- The president had been absent from so many state functions because of his ill-health
- The release of 82 Chibok girls might have just improved the ailing leader's health
A report by South Africa's Mail and Guardian suggests that the recent Chibok girls release came at a time President Buhari needed it most.
On Sunday, May 7, an unwell Buhari roused himself from his sickbed to make a rare public appearance.
The president has been in ill-health for most of this year, and has drastically cut back his official schedule, but this was one event he could not afford to miss.
The deal to secure the freedom of these 82 came from months of delicate, complex negotiations with a faction of Boko Haram.
A concerted military offensive, launched during the final months of President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure and continued by Buhari, has forced the Islamist militants into hiding and exacerbated divisions within the group.
These divisions were exploited in negotiations by an unlikely alliance of government officials, diplomats, and local and international NGOs. Hefty incentives were also offered before the girls were allowed on the helicopters, including the release of five senior Boko Haram commanders and a cash payment (amount undisclosed).
For Buhari, the return of the Chibok girls and the triumphant media circus that surrounded it is a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for his administration, which is looking about as healthy as the ailing president.
The economy has been hit hard by declining oil prices; the president’s much-heralded ‘War on Graft’ is stalling; Boko Haram have intensified their devastating bombing campaign on civilian targets; political unrest is rearing its head again in the Niger Delta province; and, in the south-east, the movement to repeat the Biafra secession experiment is gathering momentum.
But looming larger than all of these is the issue of Buhari’s health. Earlier this year, a ten day holiday to London turned into 51-days of medical leave, with no one confirming exactly what is wrong with the president
Nigerians are right to be concerned, having lived through the death in office in 2010 of President Umaru Yar’Adua, whose illness was continuously downplayed and disguised by public officials.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have taken to social media to reiterate their calls for the president to resign and attend to his health.