By Omeiza Ajayi
THE Presidency said, yesterday, that President Muhammadu Buhari was home sick, noting, however, that he would return from his medical vacation in London anytime from now.
The assurance came against the backdrop of earlier reports that said the President would return to the country, last weekend, but didn’t happen, as his doctors were said to have refused to clear him to return.
The Presidency’s declaration came on a day Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, said those wishing the President dead would die before him and that Nigeria would not go back to the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan after his eight years in office.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Garba Shehu, during an interview with Channels Television in Abuja, yesterday, said the President was no longer enjoying his stay in London.
He said: “As a matter of fact, we should be getting ready to see the President flesh and blood and that will be as soon as possible. The President (himself) is looking forward to being home to be with his people. I don’t think he is enjoying any longer an extended vacation outside the country.”
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, gave indications that President Buhari will seek for re-election in 2019 and win, adding that those wishing the leader dead would die before him. He added that by the end of Buhari’s second term, he would have put the country on a sound economic footing that it would be difficult for anyone to return the country to the Dr Goodluck Jonathan era.
It’s undiplomatic to make public Buhari/Trump’s phone conversation —Shehu
On calls in some quarters that the video recording of the telephone conversation between Presidents Buhari and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, be made public, the presidential spokesman said it was an undiplomatic thing to do.
According to him, releasing an audio containing the telephone conversation between two presidents is highly unethical and against modern civilisation.
“I don’t think it is permitted in international diplomacy. I think if we had recorded Mr. Trump in this conversation, it would have offended our diplomatic relations. I think the Americans themselves would not have recorded this conversation of president to president,” he said.
Shehu said there was not enough time for the two Presidents to have discussed other continental and international issues, especially those bothering on Nigeria-US relations, stressing that explained the reason President Buhari was invited to the US by President Trump.
His words: “There wasn’t enough time to talk about everything. I think the point at what will follow is in the invitation that President Trump has extended to our President (Buhari) to come over. That is the kind of opportunity that was presented to Nigeria to put all the issues on the desk.
“As for their immigration policy, I think our President has been clear about one thing – the choice made by the Americans as to who to lead them, in this case, Mr Trump, is entirely their own choice. We have no business interfering with their domestic affairs.
“As for the countries that have been barred, it has been clearly specified and Nigeria did not feature on the list.”
No one can take Nigeria back to the Jonathan days after Buhari’s 8 years
Addressing hundreds of pro-Buhari protesters, who locked down a section of the Three Arms Zone in Abuja in demonstration against some partisans they accused of trying to derail the administration, the SGF said those fighting the Buhari administration benefited immensely from past proceeds of corruption.
The protesters, who walked unmolested from the popular Unity Fountain in Maitama to the entrance of the Presidential Villa said, “Nigeria can only change when we support the government and do our bit and not allow ourselves to be used as agents of destruction and political thuggery”.
Babachir David Lawal told the protesters that though some of Buhari’s critics wanted the President dead, they would instead die before him, adding that by the time Buhari finished his eight-year tenure of two terms, nobody would be able to take Nigeria back to 2015.
“Shamelessly, they accused the President of not performing. And, in fact, some of them wished him dead. But I can assure you that by the grace of God, he will outlive all of them,” Lawal declared.
While stating that government was on top of the current situation in the country, the SGF said, “as much as we understand the challenges that we are facing, there is no cure without medicine. It is for no reason that quinine is very bitter, but after you have taken it, you get well”.
He, however, conceded that the President never envisaged the challenges that plagued the country in the last dispensation, promising an economic turn-around in the next one year.
“Baba Buhari did not anticipate the problem that we are in. I am sure you are all aware. The people who caused this problem are the ones challenging the government. I tell you that they will fail in the name of God.
‘’In fact, they have failed. You are aware of the economy that the President inherited, the economy in which revenue has virtually collapsed. The infrastructure is no where to be seen. The roads were dilapidated; the schools were dilapidated. The hospitals were abandoned. The people who caused it are not worried at all.
“I assure you that by the grace of God, in the next one year, Nigeria will have a booming economy. We know what they are doing to sabotage the activities of government to bring Nigeria back to economic prosperity but the President is also aware. They will fail,” he said.
Implying that the President would contest and win the 2019 presidential elections, the SGF said no one would be able to take Nigeria back to the days of ex-President Jonathan, at the completion of Buhari’s second term of office in 2023.
He said: “Nigeria will never go back to the position it was before 2015. The foundation being laid by the government is solid. And nobody, even after the President has finished his eight years, can ever take us back to the pre-2015 days.
‘’This, I can assure you. I assure Nigerians that the President is aware of the temporary suffering we are going through. It pains him, but the pains have to be borne this way for prosperity and goodness to return to our country.”
Also speaking, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, apologised for the initial obstruction by security agents at the main gate of the presidential villa.
He said: “There was a communication gap at the Villa gate because the police there did not know who was coming and I hope we will learn from this. You people put this government in place and you want to show support for what the government is doing, nobody has a problem with this.
‘’So, we welcome your demonstration; we welcome your support because this is what will keep the government strong.”
“The war against corruption has enemies, very powerful enemies. Enemies who have resources; the kind of money that even the government does not have. So, we need popular support like your own otherwise the war against corruption would be defeated.”
Earlier, Convener of the Citizens Support for Good Governance in Nigeria, Comrade Moses Abdullahi, said the country was passing through a difficult phase as a result of bad governance.
“Nigeria is going through a difficult phase, a phase not of the making of this administration, but rather a consequence of decades of bad governance, decay and maladministration by a few, under a banner now synonymous with corruption.’’