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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Columnist: Andrews Krow

Managing and protecting our leaders

I have been monitoring discussions in the Nigerian media and BBC about the health of the Nigerian leader Gen Buhari and have settled on a position that the health of our leaders must be concern all of us.

Young and energetic military officers through coups took over leadership of the country in the past so we did not have the opportunity of seeing aged persons occupying the highest office.

Nkrumah's health deteriorated after leaving office, Busia's health issues became public after leaving office and limann was still in his middle age when Rawlings ousted him.

The public began seeing President got to know about President Kufour's health challenges after he had left office.

The public knew about Prof Mills's health issues before he became President and we all saw what happened. Few months after leaving office,we saw signs which suggested that the strongman himself Rawlings had began facing health challenges.

Listening to BBC this afternoon, I heard people and civil society organisations asking handlers of the Nigerian leader to disclose the health situation of the President to the public to enable the him enjoy the rest and attention he needs.

Those advancing this position base their call on how handlers of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua carelessly handled the late President's health issue leading to the complications and later, his death.

The President ( Buhari) has not been attending his usual Friday prayers for sometime now,doesn't go to his office and his voice has not been heard for sometime causing fear,panic and unnecessary speculation in across the country.

Already some powerful political hands have started championing his replacement with the Vice President Osinbajo.

Buhari's aide this afternoon tweeted that the President is in full command but operating from his residence which is not normal.

Handlers of our leaders for cheap political reasons, conceal information about their health.

Kennedy had Addison's disease before contesting for the highest office but had to take steroids and other drugs to ward off the symptoms and his handlers did that secretly and strongly killed news about the disease with an emphatic statement that Kennedy did not have Addison's disease.

Kennedy collapsed twice because of the disease and the worse situation happened in Britain during a congressional visit. When Mitterrand took over as France's President,he told his people he will not conceal anything from the public, he submitted his health record which suggested that was very strong and fit.

But on his first day in office he disclosed to the Presidential physician Claude Gubler that his prostrate cancer had spread to his bones he however warned his handlers that the disclosure must be handled as state secret.

President Woodrow Wilson was attacked with stroke whiles in office but the seriousness of the sickness was kept from the public only the wife Edith, his chief of staff and his personal physician were allowed to see him and the wife handled the executive office till the husband returned.

The public knew about Franklin Roosevelt's polio but the American press handled issues about his health with extreme circumspection and only three pictures of him in a wheelchair were published in the media.

Franklin was a paraplegic and went to serve three years because of how his handlers handled his health issue. When Eisenhower suffered his first attack, his handlers told the public he suffered a digestive upset during the night.

The interesting issue is that the desire to keep the health records from the public many leaders end up not having best doctors to handle their health issues so may end up not getting the best care they deserve. They rely on trusted friends and family members in the medical profession who may not have the professional competence.


In his 70s the handlers of Nana Akufo-Addo should know that the man cannot exhibit same strength his exhibited years ago therefore must measure the workload they impose on him.Preparing a long speech for him to read must be avoided henceforth.

Running thread of illness and incapacity has become part of the presidencies in Africa in recent times much of it hidden from the public out of political permutations and calculations.

But we must always strive to adopt measures which will offer our Presidents the efficient support they need. Even the voice pitch of the President must be controlled by his handlers. Nana talks tough but at his age I don't think talking the same way will help him and what happened when he addressed the workers confirms the position I am espousing.

He must be allowed to have enough rest than forcing out just for the cameras. Politically it may not be appropriate making public his health status but I don't think concealing everything from the public will help the President.

Buhari is enjoying partial public sympathy because of the few disclosures he made about his health situation.

My President appears health and cocky and that should be a good news to all Ghanaians but we must not play ostrich with the likely challenges he may face as a result of his age any delusion could lead to repetition of what we saw during his address at the May Day Anniversary.

In their attempt to impress their bosses handlers of our Presidents end up complicating issues for their bosses and later defend their recklessness with ambiguous technical terms and hypothesis.