Uncertainty as President Buhari extends stay in London

President Buhari with Bukola Saraki (left) and Yakubu Dogara
President Buhari with Bukola Saraki (left) and Yakubu Dogara in London

Many posers were yesterday raised, as President Muhammadu Buhari declared that results of his medical  tests in London, United Kingdom, showed he needed a longer period of rest. He, therefore, said he would stay abroad longer than originally planned.

Following President Buhari’s notice, many Nigerians have asked the following questions: What is wrong with the president? How long will he be away?

Revealing Buhari’s decision to stay back in London for longer rest, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, said  the president gave the assurance there was no cause for alarm.

Adesina said President Buhari thanked Nigerians for their best wishes and prayers for his health.

The four-paragraph statement released yesterday by Adesina, reads: “President Muhammadu Buhari thanks millions of Nigerians, who have been sending good wishes and praying for his health and well-being in mosques and churches throughout the country.

“The president is immensely grateful for the prayers, show of love and concern.

“President Buhari wishes to reassure Nigerians that there is no cause for worry.

“During his normal annual checkup, tests showed he needed a longer period of rest, necessitating the president staying longer than originally planned.”

President Buhari had, on February 5 extended his vacation in order to complete and receive the results of series of tests recommended by his doctors. He had written to the National Assembly, stating he was extending his vacation, but did not state when he would come be back.

Buhari left the country January 19,  after transmitting a letter to the National Assembly, notifying the leadership of his annual vacation.  While Buhari said he would leave the country on January 23, he, however, left five days before the day his leave was to commence.

Adesina had said at that time the president would undergo medical check up while on vacation. He had said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would act on Buhari’s behalf.

When he spoke with State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday, Adesina was bombarded with questions about the president’s health, when he would return to Nigeria and others.

He told reporters that only President Buhari would tell Nigerians when he would come back to the country.

When asked to confirm reports that the president might be out for several months, Adesina said: “What we have just said is what I will want us to believe. The president said he needed to rest further. The same president that communicated that to us, when it is time for him to come, he will also communicate to us.”

On when Buhari is expected back, the presidential spokesman reiterated what he wrote in the statement. He said:  “The president wants Nigerians to know that he appreciates their prayers. He appreciates their concerns and their goodwill. He has added that there is really no cause to worry. He is the one who owns the body and there is nobody who will know his body more than him and he says no cause to worry.

“It makes sense to say that maybe from the results of the tests, further rests had been recommended. The statement did not say how long the rest will last.

“I speak for somebody; I do not speak for myself. So, it is what he tells me to say that I say and the statement transmitted to me is that the president needs to rest for some further time.”

On the possibility of the president speaking to Nigerians, Adesina replied: “What he has just done is to speak to Nigerians.”

Asked to state exactly what  is wrong with the president, Adesina replied: “Don’t you know that the Hippocratic Oath even forbids a doctor from speaking about the condition of his patient, except the patient authorises it? It is only the patient himself who can speak about what he is going through.  This is the person going through these series of tests and rest and he says no cause to worry; let us believe that.”

Asked why a journalist trying to reach the president was being harassed in London, Adesina said: “I do not consider that as harassment. Presidents are not hijacked and interviewed. Those things are scheduled. So I do not consider that as harassment.”

On the claim that the President has lost his voice, Adesina said: “Those people need to prove it. He spoke with President Trump. Did Trump say he did not speak with Nigerian President? Anybody can allege anything.

“My message to Nigerians is, let us learn to believe our leaders. This is a man we elected into office and he says no cause to worry; let us believe him.”

Meanwhile, prominent Nigerians have been reacting to President Buhari’s extended vacation.

Speaking to Daily Sun yesterday on the development, former federal lawmaker and Kano-born politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said it was in public’s interest to know the true health status of President Buhari, saying, doing otherwise could lead the country into another avoidable constitution crisis.

According to him, although there is a doctor-patient confidentiality relationship, wherein the doctor cannot go public with the medical report of the patient without the express permission of the patient, public interest supersedes this.

He said: “Buhari would be doing Nigerians and Nigeria a lot of good by telling us his true medical status and his chances of survival, to prevent the cabal in Aso Rock from milking the country dry.”

He added that where Buhari was unwilling to do the needful, by resigning honourably, the National Assembly should not hesitate to activate the relevant portions of the constitution and impeach him.

“Buhari does not have the physical and mental capacity to manage the affairs of this country. We can’t afford a situation where the running of government is left in the hands of a tiny few, whose only interest is to steal the country blind. As a matter of fact, it is in Buhari’s interest to give way, so that they can stop committing these atrocities in his name,” Mohammed said.

Reminded that it was too early to start asking for the President Buhari’s resignation, Mohammed said: “if it is too early, then, what should be the way out? The truth is that Buhari is no longer in a position to exercise his powers as President. And I must make one thing clear; nobody is indispensible, including Buhari.”

On his part, elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, urged Nigerians not to be in a haste to know the actual state of President Muhammadu’s Buhari’s health, saying such information would eventually come to light.

According to him, “I do not think it is necessary for the Senate to demand Buhari’s true state of health because that is the job of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The constitution empowers FEC to declare the President either fit or unfit. There is a proverb that states, it is impatient to ask someone what he has planted because it is only when the seed sprouts that we can know what the person has planted.

“I always like to use this proverb to guide me in this kind of situation. It is a sign of impatience not to wait until you eventually know what someone is suffering from, because sooner or later, we will get to know.

“People are looking at this issue from the angle of the case of the late President Musa Yar’Adua. During that time, the National Assembly did not pass the resolution mandating the presidency to notify the legislature about the President’s state of health. To me, insisting on knowing what Buhari is suffering from is tantamount to being impatient. One thing I am certain of is that Nigerians would eventually know the actual state of his health, so we should all be patient.”

However, a Buhari’s political associate and former federal lawmaker from Jigawa State, Faruk Adamu Aliyu, who have always risen in defence of the President, yesterday said he had no comments to make concerning calls from some Nigerians to the President to come clean with his true state of health.

When asked if it was proper to ask that a medical board be set up to ascertain the President’s true state of health, he simply said: “I have no comments.”

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