This is a guest post by Nunya Akumey-Affizie.
Presidents do fall ill all the time. Sometime in 2004, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, was whisked to hospital after experiencing breathing difficulties as he addressed a political rally.
Not quite long after that incident, former president of Tanzanian Benjamin Mkapa took ill for several months and even jetted out of his country for medical treatment.
The former Zambian leader, Levy Mwanawasa, died after suffering a stroke while on a medical trip abroad.
Bed ridden with acute pericarditis at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, the Nigerian Leader Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua is battling for survival while a group of outspoken individuals including the ferocious Femi Falana are strongly calling on the President to transfer power to his Vice president Goodluck Jonathan.
I can authoritatively say that, anyone waiting for President Yar’Adua to throw in the towel on account of ill-health would have to wait a very long time because a recent statement out of Aso Rock (Nigerian seat of Government) brusquely dismissed any notion that the president was considering stepping down.
Most African leaders don’t leave office on the grounds of ill-health; they best do so in a casket. This follows a flawed logic that propounds a voodoo theory that: it makes greater sense to die in the lap of presidential luxury and privileges than die as an ex-president with the tendency of not being accorded the due respect even whilst in the casket.
I shudder greatly at an absurd assertion by some Nigerians that, former President Olusegun Obasanjo actually knew Yar’Adua would not survive his first term in office. Infact it is believed that he planted him on the ticket knowing that at his demise Goodluck would ascend, and power would revert to the Southners.
Unfortunately, those churning out this falsehood forget that, Obasanjo has never seen himself as an agent of the ‘South.’ Indeed, it was on the basis of his perception as a ‘detribalized’ national figure, that leading elements from northern Nigeria pushed for his return to power in 1999.
Former Guinean president died after a long illness. But only a few days before his demise, Lasana Conté’s spokesman and the country’s communications Minister Tibou Kamara assured everyone of his good health.
Contrary to all the whitwashing, the president’s state of health grew worse during his final years in office. However, during Guinea’s 2003 presidential elections, Lasana Conté did the unthinkable. Bed-ridden and incapable of walking, the ballot box was taken to him in his car to cast his vote!
George Walker Bush, the former president of the United States, skillfully dodged “Shoe Missile” thrown at him by an angry Iraqi reporter. On the continent of Africa, very few presidents will be capable of such physical feats, although officially all of them are in “great shape” coupled with the fact that they perpetually keep their head down and their eyes glued to their speech even when delivering it at a funeral.
In 2005, President Abdulaziz Bouteflika was on admission at a French Military hospital for six days. The official Algerian report indicated that he suffered digestive problem contrary to the official medical report from the hospital which said that a surgical operation had been called for after the discovery of a hemorrhagic ulcer. Such factually fractured “official” reports run across the continent’s leadership spectrum.
The late president of Togo, Gnassingbé Eyadema, lived like a “Superman” Infact he once said that “I have never had any health problems, if not for a dysentery I once suffered in my youth” (English translation). Shamefully at the sunset of his reign, in 2003, he looked very sick, weak and skeletal. Nonetheless, his illness was never revealed to the Togolese.
During the preparatory stages to the NDC congress in before the 2008 election, the rumors were that, Professor Mills was ill. Infact it was said that the root of that diabolical rumor could be found within the NDC party hierarchy.
The silence of men of conviction also seems to have empowered the audacious impunity of some pseudo-intellectuals to carry this ferocious crusade against the learned professor.
In fact, to leave this unchallenged is akin to staying aloof while darkness triumphs over light.
For the mere fact that, no one is above the radar of criticisms is not a panacea for vomiting putrid bile on an unblemished individual like Professor Mills.
It was sickening and overly hypocritical to hear some Ghanaian politicians openly discuss the health of then candidate Attah Mills on platforms and other media as a sick person.
Sick as he was, the discerning and intelligent people of Ghana defied all odds to vote him into power as president of Ghana.
Interestingly enough, the “Sick” president is still alive while we witnessed the demise of very “strong” individuals like Hon. Baah Wiredu (An epitome of excellence), Major Courage Kwashiga (The preventive Health crusader and a retired brave soldier) from Kedzi (my village), and Mr. Dan Lartey (Domesticator) – May your souls rest in perfect peace. These men never appeared sick or weak but just may be they were inherently ill.
Physical appearance should never be the basis to judge a person’s state of wellbeing. This mental gravitation is inimical to the growth of our society.
I saw the president stand on his feet for more than two hours answering questions (even though some journalist could not decipher what constitute corruption and misrepresentation) from senior editors at the last meeting at the castle.
Infact, what shows that a person is sick? Long live President Mills. In the mean time, please join me say a prayer for President Umaru Ya’radua. I wish him a speedy recovery.
May God give us all good health (3 John 2).
Author: Nunya Akumey-Affizie