[The Presidential Blog] This can’t be the right time to ask for an annual vacation, Mr. president

President Muhammadu Buhari, pursuant to Section 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has just written the Senate to request 10 days off. In the letter, the President asked for the 10 days off for his annual vacation. 

Last year, the President took 6 days off just eight months after he was sworn into office from the 5th to the 10th of February 2016. He spent most of that time in London visiting his doctors. At the time, this vacation was at most a mild irritation for many Nigerians who were just trying to adjust to the economic hardship that was to ravage the country all year long.

Not long after, in June 2016 (in the same year!), the President wrote again to the Senate asking for 10 days off and handing over power again to the Vice President. This time, the President needed the time off to see doctors in London about a persistent ear infection.

Everybody gets sick. Even Presidents. The President knows that the nation knows this. So it must have seemed like a good idea to be totally transparent about it. And was commendable; especially as he’d done it again in accordance with Constitutional requirements. What no one at the Presidency figured was the sheer contradictory nature of this medical tourism the President was embarking on.

President Buhari had campaigned on many promises in 2014, one of which was to see an end to government officials travelling outside Nigeria to seek medical attention at every opportunity. It was not only the wrong timing as the nation was still struggling to make ends meet in an era of “Buharinomics”. It was just insensitive and totally against his change mantra. And the vice president of the Commonwealth Medical Association, Osahon Enabule, said as much to the Press:

“Undoubtedly, Mr. President has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra through a clear demonstration of leadership by example, by staying back to receive medical treatment in Nigeria and thereby inspiring confidence in Nigeria’s health sector which currently boasts of medical experts that favourably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not even better.” 

Now, the President is seeking a 10-day leave just days after a military jet struck an IDP camp! He hasn’t paid an official visit personally yet as far as we know. The students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology have been on an involuntary vacation for almost eight months and not a word as been uttered by the President to help their cause. Many civil servants are yet to receive their salaries; no one knows what is happening in the power sector except that we have to pay for services not rendered every month and that’s not all we have to contend with as citizens while we show up to our various jobs everyday.

The 2017 budget is yet to be passed and signed to law 19 days into the financial year and the average Nigerian cannot determine what the year holds yet but our Commander-in- Chief needs a break!

We are not trying to be insensitive because the task of ruling Nigeria is not child’s play and the President will certainly need a few days off every year. The task of doing any job at all requires that the job holder take some days off to refocus and then resume his or her duties with renewed vigour.

It is just that this is the absolute worst time that  President Muhammadu Buhari could have chosen to take his break. Once the President goes on this vacation, he’d have essentially asked us for 26 days of his job officially since he assumed office less than two years ago. That’s more than most officials are entitled to around the country. Also, we aren’t sure that any Nigerian can lay claims to having enjoyed 26 days off the hardships – insecurity, lack of power, lack of good roads, access to healthcare care, education or other social ammenities – that being Nigerian automatically poses.

We, Nigerians are the ones who need the vacation from all these problems and it’s the Presidents sole duty to ensure that happens and not the other way around. This request is just another example of how insensitive the President has been to the pains of Nigerians.

One comment

  1. This is a pure case of government’s insensitivity to the plight of the Nigerian masses. What a pity!

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