For those in the northern part of Nigeria, the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari from the country can only be imagined.
Buhari has been in London for over a month on medical leave. He had written to the National Assembly seeking for 10 days of rest, a period he said he would consult with his doctors.
The president later wrote to the lawmakers to extend the date indefinitely following an advice by his doctors that he needed more time to rest.
Though Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, acting in Buhari’s capacity, has been receiving accolades from Nigerians, there is the feeling currently that the north is again short-changed in the political calculations in the country.
Those who argue in this line recall how Umaru Musa Yar’Adua got ill while leading the country. As a result he could not continue.
His deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, became the president following the ‘doctrine of necessity’ adopted by the Senate then led by David Mark. He later contested and won a second tenure that some argue was meant for the north.
Ousted by the people’s votes in 2015, Jonathan handed over to Buhari who won on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There is a kind of apprehension that less than two years after he became president, Buhari is being hindered by old age and alleged illness thus leaving the presidency to Osinbajo again.
“We feel shortchanged seriously because this is not what the north envisaged. We are in a dilemma. Some of us saw this coming long before now, we looked at his age and other things around him.
“As a family man, he should be at home at that age and resting and not handle a country as big as Nigeria and with a population as huge as over 160 million coupled with insecurity and other wahala.
“Some of us feel President Buhari is good for the job but not fit for what can be described as a radical revolution. For me, he remains my hero, but we cannot downplay nature.
“We just came out from one experience which happened during the Yar’Adua regime. We have not recovered from that and Jonathan’s emergence. We feel for how long would this continue,” Yerima Shettima, the national president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) told NAIJ.com
Concerning the various groups that have been engaging in prayers for the president, Yerima said the act is nothing but hypocrisy as they only want those in authority as well as the president to know they have made some efforts.
He said whatever those organising public prayer sessions are doing is aimed at personal interest arguing that if they are sincere, they do not need to expose their such through the media.
“They have turned the whole thing to more of a film show and are just acting. Just one person starts and it becomes a uniform thing with everybody going into it as if we are just organising a gala night.
“If you are doing it, you are doing it from your heart and for God’s sake. Do you need media backup?
“This is where I have a problem. As they do it, they invite the media to show that this is the effort they have made. They only do it to impress somebody somewhere or boost their interests.
“We are all praying. I had the opportunity to call the media to cover me and my group but I didn’t.
“This president belongs to Nigeria and not the north. So if you want to pray, it shouldn’t only be at the mosque. Why not also call on churches to organise prayers in other areas of the country without even publicizing it?
“Meanwhile, we pray and we still pray that he return in good health so that come 2019, we can then call on him to stay back for a younger energetic person to take over the mantle of leadership so that you can now advise,” he added.
Shettima hinted that some northern politicians currently making moves ahead of 2019 may not be given a chance. Some of them include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former governors Sule Lamido and Ibrahim Shekarau.
He said the north would consider younger people to fill political positions this time instead of the same names that have been bandied about for many years.
“Come 2019, we will ensure that the candidates we are presenting before Nigerians are those of the younger generation. We will not ask anybody to contribute a kobo or demand funds from anybody.
“We have not seen Atiku Abubakar, Ibrahim Shekarau and others as options. These names can’t continue to ring in our ears over and over again. When the time comes, you will see it,” he said.