Some bishops have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign from office because of his ill health.
The bishops also reprimanded the Presidency for persistently refusing to disclose Buhari’s health status, saying they were in support of protesters demanding the President’s resignation.
Since Monday, the ‘resume or resign’ protesters — backed by a popular artiste, Charles Oputa (also known as Charly Boy) — had accused Buhari’s handlers of holding him captive.
The protesters had also advised the President to demonstrate his “touted integrity” by resigning from office as it was evident he wasn’t physically fit to carry on the number one job in the country.
Speaking on Friday at the second session of the Twelfth Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Owo, the Bishop of Owo Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. James Oladunjoye, asked Buhari to resign and give room for another person to do the job.
The bishop said the situation whereby the President had spent several months abroad had not helped the country, adding that it was wrong to conceal his (Buhari) health status as he was no longer a private person.
Oladunjoye said, “We thank God for the President and for the way he had been ruling according to the law, but there is something wrong that we want him to address.
“He has been ill for so many months in his tenure and so, is it not proper for the country to know his health condition as he is no more a private personality?
“He is public property and if he is not strong enough to continue as the leader of this country, it is better for him to resign so that another qualified individual can take up the office legitimately.”
Speaking based on his personal relationship with Oladunjoye, the Bishop of the Ibadan South Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Rt. Revd. Jacob Ajetunmobi, said his counterpart at the Owo Diocese was speaking based on the experience he (Oladunjoye) had.
Ajetunmobi said Oladunjoye had had accidents which forced the latter to consider early retirement, adding that if a cleric could be forced to retire early because of his health, the President should also be able to do so.
However, Ajetunmobi advised Buhari that should he decide not to resign, he should not contemplate running for the second term.
Ajetunmobi said, “He (Oladunjoye) had separate accidents that led to him suffering from a broken hand. He had taken treatment in Nigeria but had to travel to the United States for more treatment. He is now being forced to retire early before turning 70 as a result of that.
“He is speaking from personal experience that if health challenge will not permit him to function properly in his position, he would rather resign.
“Acting President Yemi Osinbajo should be able to carry on with the administration of Nigeria. Buhari was one of those calling for late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s resignation then, but now, he knows that what goes around comes around. We should be careful what we wish others.
“Here, I am a bit more radical in my opinion, but it is much more complex than we think. There are underpinning theological positions involved.”
Asking Buhari not to consider running for a second term, Ajetunmobi said, “Buhari has about one more year to spend as President, but he should not think of coming back for a second term. The All Progressives Congress should think along and restructure its leadership or be ready to fail in 2019.”
Also, the Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese in Edo State, Most Revd. Gabriel Dunia, told one of our correspondents that while the constitution was silent about how long the President could be away after transferring his power to the Vice-President, an honest leader ought to voluntarily declare his inability to continue in office (when he is physically unfit).
Dunia said, “A sincere person who wants to sincerely help but can no longer perform his function should be able to say, ‘I cannot perform this function anymore.’
“So, there is no need pretending, unless the person is not honest. And if the person is not sincere, he is not out to help anybody. If I am helping somebody and I know that it is beyond my power to help again, I should be able to come out to say I cannot go further.”
Dunia also described the Presidency’s prolonged silence on Buhari’s health status as deceptive.
“That is deception; if they cannot tell Nigerians what is wrong with the President, who is their son, father, brother and friend, then the children (Nigerians) should know what is wrong with their father,” he said.
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Kano State Chapter, Bishop Ransom Bello, indicated his support for the ‘resume or resign’ protest, insisting that it was high time the Presidency opened up on Buhari’s health status.
The General Overseer, Christ Alive Power Assembly, Bauchi, Pastor Emmanuel Kanti, said the Nigerian constitution should be allowed to take its course in that Buhari should resign because of his illness.
He said, “If the President is not strong enough to rule the country, he should give way to someone who is healthy and strong enough to rule the country.
“The number one citizen of a country shouldn’t conceal his health status and put the whole country in dilemma; I think it is unfair. If he’s unhealthy, he should give way to someone else and stop being a ghost President. But if he feels he’s okay, he should come back and continue ruling the country.
“In fact, the Presidency is playing on the intelligence of Nigerians and there is no reason whatsoever for doing that. They should just tell us the present state of our President.”
Also speaking to Saturday PUNCH, the leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Pastor Christmas Mark, asked President Buhari to honourably resign if he was not fit to rule the country on health grounds.
He said, “Nigerians have the right to protest in the sense that the President is not a secret position holder; it is not a position that is answerable to a community and inasmuch as he is the President of the country, he is answerable to the people. And the people want to see him at all costs.
“So, it is not right for the Federal Government to hide him. What they should have done is to set up a medical panel to know his health status. Nigerians do not want information (again); they want to see him.
“It can even be right for one to say that if he is not fit to rule, to ask him to resign is not out of place. The reason is that people want to see the person they elected. They voted for him to rule.
“They voted for the President and the Vice-President to rule. Now we are seeing only the Vice-President. Inasmuch as we know the constitution, the Vice-President has limited powers. So, if the President is not fit or if he is incapacitated, let him honourably resign.”