ABSENT PRESIDENT

Nigeria’s president is off on a medical vacation to London—two months after his last one

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has returned to London on a medical vacation, his office has confirmed.

The trip, described as a “follow-up”, comes two months after Buhari returned to Nigeria from an earlier trip to London. At the time, Buhari did raise the prospect of follow-up trips. Like the last time, his office has not provided a definitive time frame for which the president will be away saying instead that his length of stay will be determined by London doctors. Buhari’s last medical trip lasted 50 days.

In Buhari’s absence, Nigeria’s government will be run by Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president. While Osinbajo style of governance won him plaudits the last time around, another prolonged absence by Buhari will feed increased speculation and questions about his long-term health and ability to lead. That uncertainty will be detrimental to Nigeria’s flailing economy and its fragile polity.

There is now growing speculation that even if Buhari was able to return to office anytime soon he’s increasingly unlikely to be able to run for a re-election bid in 2019.

For his part, Buhari says “there is no cause for worry,” however recent history suggests otherwise given Nigeria lost a sitting president in 2010. President Umaru Yar’adua died after a long bout with an undisclosed illness and threw the country into a constitutional crisis. While there’s a much smoother transition this time, many political watchers are uncomfortable with a similar lack of transparency regarding the president Buhari’s health.

Since returning from London in March, Buhari has limited his public appearances, missing key weekly cabinet meetings and instead working from home on occasion. The presidency claimed Buhari was only heeding doctors advice to rest. The nature of Buhari’s ailment remains undisclosed keeping with the tactic of secrecy usually adopted by sick presidents in Africa.

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