Globally, it sometimes happens that leaders contend with one illness or the other.
President Muhammadu Buhari took another trip to Britain for medicals, and this has brought on different reactions from Nigerians. Some say, “why doesn’t he just step down from office and rest”
“At his age he should be retired.”
It has been proven time and again that Political leaders are not demi-gods, hence they battle with health issues just like the rest of us, sometimes even more due to the stress and responsibilities that come with handling a position of power. Let’s look at leaders, past and present globally, who contend/ have contended with one illness or the other while in office?
John F Kennedy (Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2):
When JFK was elected US president in 1960, he was 43 years old. Historians say that he suffered various health challenges that were controlled by doses of steroids and other drugs. Among those problems was Addison’s disease or autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2. Experts say this disease causes the adrenal glands to wither, leading to complications such as fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, weight loss, difficulty standing up, nausea, sweating, and changes in mood and personality. The UK Guardian reports that Kennedy once collapsed during a congressional visit to Britain as a result of Addison’s disease.
“His medical records, studied posthumously by navy doctor Lee R Mandel, revealed that Kennedy was taking 500mg of vitamin C twice daily; 10mg of hydrocortisone daily; 2.5mg of prednisone twice daily; 10mg of methyltestosterone daily (to combat weight loss and gonadal atrophy associated with the steroids he was taking)
Franklin D Roosevelt (Poliomyelitis, blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease):
According to Wiki, in 1921, at the age of 38, Roosevelt suffered a severe attack of polio, which resulted in the total paralysis of both legs.
In 1920, he had run as vice-president to Democratic candidate James M Cox. His illness seemed to threaten his future political career, but it did not.
In 1928, he was elected governor of New York and in 1932 defeated Herbert Hoover to become president, in which office he served until his death in 1945 – becoming thereby the last president to serve more than two four-year terms in office.
In 1944, hospital tests revealed that the president, a lifelong chain smoker, had high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease causing congestive heart failure,” UK Guardian wrote; but his declining health was hidden from the public. He won a re-election in 1944, but died the following year due to a massive cerebral haemorrhage.
François Mitterrand (prostate cancer):
The French president died of prostate cancer in 1996, a year after the end of his two-term lasting 14 years. He and his doctors reportedly concealed his condition from the French public.
The UK Guardian wrote that David Owen, in his book, In Sickness and in Power: Illness in Heads of Government During the Last 100 Years, reveals the lengths they went to conceal his condition.??
Let us also not forget our late ex – President Umar Musa Yar’Adua who suffered health issues for years and eventually died while in office. The family of the President may decide to withhold information concerning his health for personal reasons and it is quite understandable how that can make Nigerians skeptical about the capability of our President and his ability to remain in office. My argument is, if all the people mentioned above could manage their health and still serve their country, why not Buhari….
Sources: Wikipedia, WebMd, UK Guardian, Daily Punch
Written by: Esther Achinonu