By Akin Ojumu

Here we go again. Ten days to one of the most consequential elections in the nation’s history, Nigerians are clamoring for an old man who, before our eyes, is manifesting all the classic symptoms of dementia. 

After 8 years of Buhari, some folks insist it’s a cognitively impaired old man who should become the next president of Nigeria. For some inexplicable reasons, these folks think this man with obvious mental difficulties should be the one to rule Nigeria for the next 4 years or more.

Just so it’s clear, I have no problem with having an aged person run the nation’s affairs. My Uncle, the man who raised me, is now in his 80s. But he remains as sharp as a tack and his mind doesn’t miss a beat. He talks coherently and intelligibly. He continues to amaze me with the sharpness of his memory, intellect, and insight. My Uncle can tell you events that happened 70 years ago with prescient details. If he runs for president, I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.

So, the issue I have with Tinubu is not his age. What worries me about him is the fact that the man is showing all the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common type of dementia.

The following are just a few of the signs we’ve seen Tinubu display in public.

Memory Loss
Forgetting things, repeating himself or relying on his aides to help him remember. On several occasions his aides stand behind him whispering into his ears, telling him what to say.

Confusion With Time Or Place
Tinubu often loses track of dates of events. During his recent campaign stop in Kebbi State, he told the crowd to go and vote on the 25th of January. The election is on the 25th of February.

New Problems With Words In Speaking Or Writing
That Bola Tinubu has speech difficulty is well known. He often struggles to find the right words and usually ends up with incoherent mumbo-jumbo. An example is him saying “A town hall different from bala blu, blulu bulaba.” Nobody knows what he was trying to say.

Challenges In Planning Or Solving Problems
This was demonstrated at the Chatham House press conference where Tinubu outsourced questions to his coteries of aides. His excuse then was that he was showing the spirit of “teamship.” The man who is interviewing for the job of the president of Nigeria embarrassed himself and the nation on the global stage.

Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks
We’ve all seen photos of Tinubu sleeping at meetings. This is not just an occasional nodding of the head. Rather he goes into deep Stage 4 REM sleep with dreams and loud snoring. 

Similarly, the man has never been able to give complete answers to questions. His excuse is always that he doesn’t want to reveal everything.

Trouble Understanding Visual Images and Spatial Relations
We see this in instances where Tinubu needed assistance to hold up the APC broken broom. Tinubu has tremors and fidgets occasionally. All of these are telltale signs of Alzheimer’s.

Misplacing Things and Losing the Ability to Retrace Steps
Those close to Tinubu are familiar with his habit of stumbling about confused and momentarily losing direction. It’s why you always find his aides all crowded around him to guide him in the right direction.

Decreased Or Poor Judgment
Some have alleged that Tinubu has occasional incontinence and wets himself and therefore has to wear adult diapers.

Again, I don’t care about the age of a leader. What I hate is for Nigeria to be saddled with a president who is in cognitive decline. The country has too many pressing challenges in need of creative solutions. The job requires a president with his mental faculties intact and not one who mumbles “Bulu bla, blulu, bulaba.” 

At this critical moment, what Nigeria needs more than anything else, is a president with a razor-sharp mind and not one who is cognitively impaired.


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