NIGERIA’S SEPTUAGENARIAN LEADER

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The Peoples Democratic Party, during the week resumed calls for President Buhari to give details about his health. It wouldn’t be the first time the opposition party would ask and it wouldn’t be the first time the Presidency would refuse. The President’s health may have always been a subject of controversy – with the trips and stays in London and the curiosity about how fit he is to carry on – but it hasn’t been a scandal. How could it be when everyone around his age has at least one illness that requires routine maintenance? So, what exactly did Nigeria wittingly sign up for when it elected a septuagenarian as President? Let’s see…

 

His Senses

Let’s start with the ‘knownish’, the reports in 2016 of an ear ailment troubling the President should not have surprised anyone. After all, 68 percent of people in their seventies experience some degree of hearing loss (according to the American Association of Retired Persons). How about their eyes? We don’t need to tell you that research shows; half of the seventy-something year olds  have cataracts.. Even if the President doesn’t have cataracts, the outlook (no pun intended) is not so good for anybody looking to do presidential paperwork. The AARP’s research also states that after age 70, the ability to see fine details diminishes, because there are fewer nerve cells to transmit visual signals to the brain.  And speaking of his brain…

 

His Mental Health

Some people have asked if Buhari’s way of thinking is compatible with the present age, well get this: Gary J. Kennedy, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral science says that part of your brain circuitry starts to burn out with age, but most of us compensate by relying on other parts of our brain, and our past experiences, to make decisions. Uh oh! Is there 1980s music playing in Mr President’s head right now? Are there vivid images of Idiagbon, IBB and co, flashing before him as he runs our country in 2018?

 

His Body

We don’t have the space in this article to go over the common illnesses that affect the elderly but everybody knows that your body doesn’t feel the same as you get older.

 

 

Mr President caught a break during the week, when Malaysia swore in 92 year old Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister. Mahathir Mohamad’s swearing in makes Nigeria’s 75 year old President seem like a vibrant young lad from a Milo commercial. However Mahathir Mohamad’s two coronary bypass surgeries are a matter of public record unlike Buhari’s own health history.

Mahathir Mohamad argues that young leaders “do not have sufficient background”. One also wonders if the young guys are any healthier, what with the life expectancy of  this instant noodle generation being what it is. How many of today’s 40 somethings are actually fated to live till 70?

 

Nigerians are probably more concerned about their President’s health than they are about his age, after all even America has a seventy something year old. History has a long list of elderly leaders who have run nations. But what if a leader’s health isn’t holding up? Remember Ronald Reagan’s presidency had to come to an end because of  Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Regardless of what Buhari’s health status is (he is currently in London on a medical trip), he is going to have to explain why he should run again because the question isn’t likely to go away before the 2019 elections. Mahathir Mohamad used his own age as a selling point when in one campaign video he said with teary eyes to a young girl, “I am already old. I haven’t much time left. I have to do some work to rebuild our country; perhaps because of mistakes I myself made in the past.”

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