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Politics Updated: June 14, 2024

Tinubu: Recap of presidential falls

By TIMOTHY TIMILEHIN ENIETAN-MATTHEWS
June 14, 2024
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On Wednesday, the 12th of June, 2024, a seemingly sacred day in the democratic calendar of Nigeria, the nation's President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu slipped and fell in full public glare and on national television at the Eagles Square where a ceremony was being held to commemorate this year's Democracy Day.

The rare moment of what many called public embarrassment to the nation and the publicity it has attracted online has continued to generate discussions, with many Nigerians reading meanings to it and juxtaposing it with the current situation in the country.

For many, especially the critical mass of Nigerians who have remained  unapologetically critical of Tinubu’s administration, the fall only reinforced their belief that President Tinubu is not fit or in the best shape to be Nigeria's president.

However, a cursory look into world history as far back as 1976,  shows that the event of June 12 at Eagles is nothing peculiar or out of the world, as several world leaders have had similar experiences in full public glare.

The experiences of these leaders show that even the most powerful and composed individuals can experience moments of clumsiness and embarrassment. World leaders, who are often under intense scrutiny and pressure, are no exception. 

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Despite their dignified public personas, they too can trip, slip, and fall, reminding us that they are human after all. 

Here's a list of world leaders who have taken a tumble, showcasing that even the mighty can fall! 

President Gerald Ford (USA) - June 1976

President Ford's fell down the stairs of Air Force One while departing from a trip to Austria. It was a memorable moment in presidential history. The incident was widely covered by the media, with many poking fun at the president's clumsiness.

 President George H.W. Bush (USA) - January 1992

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During a banquet in Japan, President Bush vomited and fainted, falling from his chair. The incident was attributed to a stomach virus, but it didn't stop the media from having a field day.

President Vladimir Putin (Russia) - September 2015

Putin's slip on a wet floor and subsequent fall during a visit to a Moscow monastery was a rare moment of vulnerability for the typically stoic leader.

President Dmitry Medvedev (Russia) - April 2011

Medvedev's trip on a wire and fell during a visit to a space center. The incident was an embarrassing moment for the Russian president.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Canada) - January 2013

Harper's slip on ice and fall while walking to his car in Ottawa was a relatable moment for Canadians, who are no strangers to icy winters.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (UK) - December 2020

Johnson's trip and fall while walking to his car in London was a humorous moment for many, given the prime minister's reputation for being a bit of a clumsy politician.

President Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) - December 2021

Bolsonaro's fall in a staircase while leaving an event in Brasilia was a concerning moment for the Brazilian president's health and well-being.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (India) - December 2022

Modi's slip and fall while walking on a ramp in New Delhi was a brief moment of embarrassment for the Indian prime minister.

Boris Yeltsin - Russia - June 13, 1996

During his presidency, Boris Yeltsin's health struggles were widely documented. One notable incident occurred on June 13, 1996, when Yeltsin disembarked from a plane and stumbled on the tarmac. The event was captured by numerous cameras, drawing global attention to his health condition and raising concerns about his ability to lead the country effectively.

George W. Bush - USA - January 13, 2002

While hosting King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on January 13, 2002, President George W. Bush encountered a momentary slip. As the two leaders walked hand in hand, Bush lost his footing but managed to regain his balance swiftly. The incident, captured by the media, was downplayed by the administration, but it nonetheless became a memorable moment during Bush's presidency.

Angela Merkel - Germany - June 18, 2019

Angela Merkel, the long-serving Chancellor of Germany, faced a moment of public concern regarding her health during a ceremony with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 18, 2019. Merkel was seen shaking uncontrollably, sparking widespread speculation about her well-being. Despite assurances from her spokesperson that she was fine and merely suffering from dehydration, the incident reignited discussions about Merkel's physical fitness to lead the nation.

Emmanuel Macron - France - June 8, 2021

On June 8, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron experienced a stumble during an event commemorating the anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's famous World War II broadcast. While walking on uneven terrain, Macron lost his balance and fell forward. However, he quickly regained his composure and continued with the ceremony. The incident highlighted the physical demands of public office and Macron's ability to handle unexpected challenges with grace.

Joe Biden - USA - March 19, 2021

President Joe Biden's stumble while boarding Air Force One on March 19, 2021, sparked a flurry of media attention and speculation about his health. As he ascended the stairs to the aircraft, Biden stumbled multiple times, prompting concerns from observers. While the White House attributed the mishap to strong winds, the incident reignited debates about Biden's age and physical fitness, underscoring the scrutiny faced by world leaders in the public eye.

These instances serve as a reminder that even the most powerful leaders can experience moments of clumsiness and embarrassment, making them more relatable and human to the public.

However, it would be recalled that President Tinubu had faced a similar criticism during the campaign days ahead of the election that brought him to power. The president on one occasion was captured on camera falling on stage. He was also captured struggling with a broom handed over to him, pushing many of his critics to ask questions about his health.

The president’s mental state was also put under scrutiny following his famous Bala blu, bulaba statement.

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