ANALYSIS: President Buhari’s true state of health and the (mis)management of information

FILE PHOTO: Muhammadu Buhari with APC Chieftains, Bisi Akande and Bola Tinubu in London

While running for president in 2007, former President Umar Yar’Adua looked clearly weak. But former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who tapped Mr. Yar’Adua to succeed him, said he threw his support behind the late president because he understood he was medically fit to govern Nigeria.

Mr. Obasanjo said he became confident of Mr. Yar’Adua’s ability to govern Nigeria after he pored through his health records and sought the opinion of medical experts.

Mr. Obasanjo said he believed Mr. Yar’Adua “had a clean bill” of health report when he tapped him as his replacement in 2007.

But during the campaign, Mr. Yar’Adua gave Nigerians a hint of his health crisis when he suddenly dashed out to Germany, fuelling rumours of his death.

The rumour ushered in the infamous “Umaru! Are you dead?” question on the campaign trail, when Mr. Obasanjo placed a call through to Mr. Yar’Adua in Germany to ask about his situation.

Mr. Yar’Adua won the election, albeit hugely disputed. But three years into his tenure, he passed on in office.

In his 2014 book, ‘My Watch’, Mr. Obasanjo criticised Mr. Yar’Adua’s handling of his health crisis, accusing him of deceiving Nigerians by keeping details of his illness secret.

In the book, Mr. Obasanjo described the manner with which Mr. Yar’Adua and his administration officials handled the situation as “shoddy, tardy, unpatriotic, selfish, and reckless.”

“No nation should be left hanging in such a manner,” he added.

In contrast to Mr. Yar’Adua’s early signs of ailment, President Muhammadu Buhari, as a candidate, seemed agile and alerted, even though he was way older. But the lingering anxiety over the president’s health less than two years in office has left many pondering how information on a president’s health status should be managed.

Also, unlike when the late President Yar’Adua was sick, Mr. Buhari constitutionally transferred power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, who now leads the country as acting president; a factor his supporters say distinguishes the two scenarios.

However, for nearly 50 days, Buhari administration officials have provided different versions of the president’s true health situation, even as a cloud of anxiety hangs over the country.

Mr. Buhari wrote to the Nigerian Senate on January 19, disclosing his intention to travel abroad on a 10-day vacation and that he’d handed over to his vice-president.

Although the letter said he will commence the vacation on January 23, Mr. Buhari departed Nigeria on the same day he wrote the lawmakers, an indication all may not have been well with the president.

No sooner had Mr. Buhari left the country than his aides came under attack for their alleged refusal to disclose the true state of the president’s health.


The presidential aides and officials then released statements assuring Nigerians the president was not sick.

On January 22, barely two days after the president left, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, declared the president fit on Twitter, and even mocked former President Goodluck Jonathan while at it.


At some point, senior media aide, Femi Adesina, quoted a passage from the Holy Bible to forestall raging insinuations around the president’s health.

On February 5, a day before Mr. Buhari was due back in the country, his media aides again put out statements to quell rumours of his critical health situation, or worse.

Mr. Shehu said of the president: “He and his delegation were ready to come home today but for the delayed test result which came in today which necessitated that he delays his return. “There is nothing to worry about as far as his condition is concerned.”

This was hours after the president was said to have written to the National Assembly to extend his vacation.

Also on February 6, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo declared Mr. Buhari “hale and hearty” following a telephone discussion.

“Let me first say the President is hale and hearty. I spoke to him just this afternoon and we had a fairly long conversation, he is in good shape and very chatty,” Mr. Osinbajo said.

Three days later following a Federal Executive Council meeting, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, slammed Nigerians for fuelling rumours about Mr. Buhari’s health.

“I can say it without any equivocation, Mr President is well, he is hale and he is hearty; no question about that,” Mr. Mohammed said. “I want to assure you, Mr President is well and he is in absolutely no danger.”

The minister said the president was a victim of his own transparency, adding that Nigerians should not judge him by the standards he applied when he was in opposition and Mr. Yar’Adua took ill.

“Mr. President, like I said elsewhere, is probably a victim of his own transparency,” the minister added. “Mr President is not ill, he is not in hospital and there is no reason to give anybody any bulletin about his health, pure and simple.’’

On the same day, Mr. Buhari’s sister, Rakiya Adamu, implored Nigerians to keep her brother in serious prayers.

On February 9, Christian and Muslim leaders urged their respective fellows to pray for the president. The Sultan of Sokoto reiterated the need to pray for Mr. Buhari on March 1.

On February 14, Mr. Shehu said “Nigerians should be getting ready to see the president in flesh, as soon as possible.”

On February 15, the president received principal officers from the National Assembly, who immediately declared him “healthy, witty and himself.”

On February 16, senior media aide, Femi Adesina, said on TVC’s ‘This Morning‘ that “Mr. President will not speak to Nigerians because he has the ‘right to his vacation, we don’t need to intrude.”

At different media appearances between February 16 and March 1, Mr. Buhari’s administration officials maintained the president was in good health.


On March 2, officials admitted for the first time that the president told the King of Morocco that his health was improving during a telephone discussion.

Two days later, the president took a call from Alpha Conde, the chairperson of the AU and president on Guinea.

Mr. Adesina said in a statement after the call that Mr. Conde wished Mr. Buhari good health and speedy recovery.

Within the last two weeks, Mr. Buhari had placed calls to a wide array of personalities within the country, including Mr. Obasanjo who he called on March 5.

Two weeks after Mr. Buhari left the country and speculations about his health raged, Mr. Obasanjo castigated the rumour mongers as “abnormal.”

“If you don’t like him, wait for another election, not going about to say he is dead. No matter his health situation, we should pray for him to recover quick and come back stronger and better,” the former leader said.

While speaking on a Channels Television programme, radical lawyer Femi Falana, blamed presidential aides for the controversy surrounding the president’s health.

Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, questioned how Nigerians were supposed to pray for the president when they did not know if he was truly sick or the nature of the illness.

While the presidency continues to keep mum on the president’s true health status and the nature of his illness, Nigerians remain divided on his continued absence from office.


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  • kusanagi

    Probably the best article on this situation thus far.

    This whole hale and hearty nonsense exacerbates the situation and has to stop.

    Let the public know the truth and all will be calm.

    Release a statement: He’s sick. Very sick. He needs time to recover. 6 – 12 Months. Let everyone know and no one will be wondering and consistently questioning when he’s getting back and what’s going on.

    Be honest with the public. Otherwise people will continue to suspect he’s simply too ill to govern.

    • Gary

      The truth is the President is now too ill to govern and his inner circle are unwilling to let the people know this as it jeopardizes their jobs and interests in office.

      They are not keen on having the VP take full charge of the country and overturn their parochial agenda. So expect them to stretch this ruse for as long as possible while they hope get an ailing Buhari back into Aso Rock for them to run the country in his name.

  • thusspokez

    President Buhari’s true state of health and the (mis)management of information

    You Nigerian journalists, if you try could find out what is wrong with Buhari,

    The UK is a free country and any investigative journalist could find out where he is staying, and if you know where he is staying, you can find out where he goes for treatment and his doctors; and if you know his doctors, you can find out their area of specialisation and based on the information, you can identify the nature of his medical condition(s), etc.

    • Sam

      Thanks for that.

      There is even no news in this article, because the contents did not deliver the expectations from the title.

    • dami

      Sounds easy – what are you waiting for?

      • thusspokez

        It is easy, But I don’t earn my living working as an investigative journalist.

        • dami

          U think we don’t know what u do?

          • thusspokez

            Go on and tell readers, I am sure that many are dying to know.

        • kusanagi

          Sahara Reporters have already disclosed a ton of info on his health status.

          Crohns Diesease.
          A throat condition
          Postrate flare ups
          and Intestinal Problems.

          Loss of appetite as a result of all this.

          • thusspokez

            So, there you have it. The rest of the Nigerian media just speculate in their Abuja (where else?) office.

    • Mudu Dey Smell

      Mumu! UK is a free country? And they came to Africa to force countries into a single country, forcefully govern by brute force. steal resources and transport them back to England to develop their country, capture slaves and resell them to Americans, steal priced and expensive antiques from traditional palaces and ship them to British museums etc …and you say they are a free country? Do you even understand the meaning of feeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom? Yeye Fowl!

      • thusspokez

        What are you on about? Have you been drinking or suffering from mumuism.?

        • Daniel

          You are ignorant. Counter his point or learn in humility.

          • thusspokez

            There is nothing to counter. The poster and you should learn to stick to the topic of discussion [repeat: topic of discussion] — which is something that most of you can’t do. You say the first thing that comes into your mind and then not bother whether or not it makes sense in the context of the topic of discourse.

          • Daniel

            I know insults is your escape route.

            Buhari must remain on the front burner of discussions.

            We are counting his days, though we know he is a LAW BREAKER.

    • Daniel

      So you are pretending not to be aware a Guardian Newspaper journalist was almost arrested about two weeks ago for going London to know the wherebouts of the president?

      Na wa for Buharists!

      When will you people be convinced this government is ONE CHANCE?

      • thusspokez

        What is “Buharists”, stúpid?

  • Room 23

    ACT 1, SCENE 1
    So, in the evening of Wednesday February 27, Mrs. Yaro flew to Lagos ahead of Mr. Sanusi, skipping work, at taxpayers’ expense, on Thursday February 28 and Friday, March 1… To keep faith with Mrs. Yaro’s date, the CBN governor arrived Lagos, travelling on a chartered flight, on the night of February 28, and checked into the Federal Palace Hotel, passage and boarding all at taxpayers’ expense.

    ACT 1, SCENE 2
    Mrs. Yaro arrived Lagos on the night of March 15, and immediately checked into the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel on Victoria Island. Mr. Sanusi flew from Kano to Lagos via chartered jet on the bills of the Nigerian taxpayers. He arrived at about 11 p.m., stopped by his Ikoyi home, before dashing to the hotel where Mrs. Yaro was waiting in a seductive dress in Room 23. The lovers spent that night and the next day together in the hotel…Both Mr. Sanusi and Mrs. Yaro rendezvoused in the hotel till Sunday when both of them returned to Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

    “…I had such a wonderful weekend,” Mrs. Yaro confessed to the governor while aboard her Abuja-bound flight. “You have revived in me what I thought I lost long ago. I thought I lost the passion to love again,” she claimed.
    “Alhamdulillahi. Love you,” Mr. Sanusi responded in a measured tone —– Premium Times, June 2, 2013

  • D a n g o t e-C e m e n t


  • George

    My only sincere prayers is that Buhari should die and dies quickly.

    He is a bad omen to Nigerians and I wish him and his household dead.

    Because the Baboons and Monkeys bloods are awaiting him and his entire household at the gate of hell.

    • Gibson Bosah

      Always take ur drugs at least 2hrs b4 u login

    • thusspokez

      It is people like you that the mediocre SSS should be going after. You can say these things on Nigerian websites because Nigeria is very backward and anything goes. And if you are not a coward, I challenge you to post it on any western website and see what response you get — assuming you even get to post it.

      • Insider?

        What is wrong with his post? He has simply expressed his wish that Buhari should die. Many feel so especially those relatives of Shiite muslims and peaceful Biafran protesters whose loved one were killed by Nigerian soldiers under the command of Mr Buhari. I wish him dead like yesterday because I lost 2 cousins of mine. Maybe your siblings should be killed by Nigerian army so that you know how it hurts. Piss off!


        Human wishes are free, it cannot be controlled by dictators. All my friends and acquaintances do not wish Buhari well at all, we wish him the worst of luck because he ordered the cold blooded and extra-judicial killings of our unarmed youth.

        • thusspokez

          Human wishes are free, it cannot be controlled by dictators.

          So is fantasising about a fragrant beautiful woman passerby, but you don’t go and rape her. Some of you seem to have a rather juvenile interpretation of freedom.

      • Aboki

        It is not a crime to wish someone death Mr George…I also wish President Buhari a speedy race to the grave! A lot of people do wish Trump, Obama, etc dead and they don’t get prosecuted for their wishes. You get prosecuted if you say something like you are going to kill a president or someone.

        • thusspokez

          A lot of people do wish Trump, Obama, etc dead

          And if they put it in the media, they get visits from the FBI and others.

          Let me give you some advice, as many of you Nigerians are so ignorant and naive: The US is not Nigeria, and this website is hosted in the US, so next time, avoid using “dead” and name of any US president in the same sentence or statement.

          These combinations of keywords can bring you to the attention of the US secret services — as I write –, and a file kept on you if one doesn’t already exist. They don’t mess about with their presidents, and their powerful supercomputers can scan all emails posted from Nigeria each day in just a few minutes. You have been warned!

        • Otile

          Dan uwarna, ina shugaban Najeriya? Yana tofi Amurka, to.

    • Julius

      And you are questioning somebody else mental stability ! I’m confused.

    • tonny

      every thing you wish for mr president will happen to you in the name of ALMIGHTY GOD

      • Sun Tzu

        amin to that

        • Otile

          Menini wanan sha sha sha.

    • Sun Tzu

      It is not a crime to wish someone death Mr George… Well i also wish dealth to everyone you love like your wife/husband sisters brother……….Its just my only sincere prayers

  • Yusuf

    I most certainly find PT choice of words repaginating. I’m beginning to think, you also belong to those tribal albeit ‘Racists’media outfits in our country ,that do not see anything good in a Hausa/Fulani man OR The North. IS PRESIDENT BUHARI NOT A HUMAN BEING?

    • Daniel

      Buhari is human, that is why he should resign and go home.

      Go home and manage his health properly.

      Always be aware that we do not run a monarchical FG.

      No inheritance in the presidency.

      Time is running out on Buhari.

      His days are numbered in Aso Rock.

  • Daniel

    A government that came in through lies, deceit and sponsored by thieves , cannot change in the middle of the journey.

    I see this government as history.

    I am working on its post mortem.

  • wode

    Nothing new!

  • Oluwabawayikpada

    Fellow Nigerians, let us pray for our nation Nigeria.
    Oh Lord our God,you are the creator of all things including all people and every nation,
    You place every citizen in any country where you desire, no citizen of any country has a choice about his country of birth.
    You made us Nigerians and gave us leadership from generation to generation,
    In 2015 you gave us a leader called buhari who had struggled for 16years to be our President until you gave him the opportunity in 2015.
    Buhari within his 20 months of his leadership of Nigeria ,have destroyed our nation, he have brought on Nigerian citizens sorrow, grievous pain,tears,excruciating hunger ,anger,hate,death.
    Buhari came with a mentality of hate,bias,discrimination, ethnic, religious, clannish and tribal bigotry against some sections of the nation you gave him in your kindness to govern.
    In his hatred and malicious mind against some sections of Nigeria, he apportioned the nation you gave him in your kindness to govern, he called some sections 5% and others 97%.
    He treated his 5% with the worst treatment of hate,malice,bias,discrimination and marginalization ever seen in the life of a leader,some he maimed ,some he murdered in cold blood and some he imprisoned through the deployment of his official security apparatus his unofficial Fulani herdsmen.
    Oh Lord our God, we know that you have taken notice of the lies,propaganda, falsehoods, blackmail and falsehoods which buhari have deployed as his instrument to govern Nigeria, you have heard the cries of millions of Nigerians who have become jobless,families whose children can’t go to schools again, the sick that can’t afford treatments because the cost of drugs are out of their reach,those who go to bed hungry, those who have turned into vile activities for the cause of hardship. All these were buharis 20 months dividend to Nigeria,because of his hate,clueless, clannish and biased leadership.
    Oh lord our God, in your divine ,matchless wisdom, you have relieved the burdens and pains of Nigerians by given buhari a pressing need to go and rest peacefully in UK ,he has been resting since January and our nation is now recovering very fast.there is now peace in our nation, the Fulani herdsmen have abated their killing of Nigerians,osibanjo is now seeing and regarding every citizen as Nigerians,no part of our nation is now being marginalized any more, our economy is recovering very fast.
    Our God, hope ,peace and unity is returning back to Nigeria within this few weeks of buharis rest ,no Nigerian citizen is been killed again for protesting the hardship and buharis marginalization.
    Oh Lord our God, we therefore pray that you keep our President buhari alive and well,help him to stay in peace in London indefinitely until 2019 may 29 ,when he shall come and hand over to whomsoever you will give power.
    May you give osibanjo more grace to continue to preside over our nation with love,truth,compassionate heart,justice, equity, fairness and fear of God.
    These and others we pray thee Oh our God in Jesus mighty name amen.

  • Senator D

    Bubu is NEVER coming back oooooooo…. Read my lips… From the first day a top ranking military officer told me the truth that he got it from the grapevine amongst the top echelon of intelligence officers. He re-confirmed it again that Bubu is Dead!

    Abba Kyari please you and the Aso Rock CABAL inclusive of Amaechi and Co. spare Nigerians the embarrassment thus far. Amaechi please the money you used to sponsor Bubu was not your money after-all so what money are you trying to recoup?

  • Senator D

    Bubu don delete… E don die… E don kick bucket… Oti Ku… Im don kpafuka…The guy don yamutu!

  • Isaac Azor

    It’s like we Nigerians no have respect for human dignity and sanctity of life! Praying in the media for someone to die!! May God help us retrace our steps to when human life was considered sacred.

  • thusspokez

    And you don’t think that your response to my previous comment is anything but temperamental and irrational?

  • Abdulkadir

    This report or analysis is completely empty.

  • bernarddoro

    What an article! Bereft of reflections and analysis – purely descriptive. PT, you’re more than this waste of space.