Editor’s Note: April 26, 2019

Nigeria’s president goes missing again

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is heading to the UK on a ‘private visit’, his office said on Thursday via Twitter. He is expected back in the country on May 5.

The announcement will invariably fuel speculation about the president’s health. During his first term – Buhari was re-elected in February – the 76-year old made several medical trips to London for an undisclosed illness.

One stint in 2017 lasted 104 days, plunging Africa’s biggest economy into a constitutional crisis, and raising widespread concerns about his ability to govern the country in the midst of Nigeria’s first recession in a generation.

Assuming his latest ‘private trip’ is for medical reasons, expect less furore this time around.

Despite general discontent with Buhari’s many absences, and general management of the economy during his first term, business was actually relieved by his re-election. The thinking, it seems, is ‘better the devil you know’.

It helps that in vice president Yemi Osinbajo the country has a competent deputy. He became acting president during the 2017 absence, by all accounts doing a more than satisfactory job.

This obviously doesn’t mean the president’s health shouldn’t be closely watched. It’s just that in a notoriously unpredictable marker Buhari’s medical problems have become a somewhat predictable risk.

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