BUHARI TO NIGERIANS:Don’t expect me back yet; no cause for alarm
By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Oke & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said that he needs a longer time to rest in London, United Kingdom, where he is on medical vacation.
The President said his need for further rest is necessitated by the series of medical tests conducted on him.
Expressing gratitude to Nigerians, who had been praying for him, he, however, said there is no cause for alarm.
The President’s appreciation was contained in a brief statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, yesterday.
The polity was awash with mixed reactions, yesterday, following President Buhari’s comments that he needs a longer time to rest in London. While some okayed further rest for him, others urged the presidency to be open about Buhari’s health status and stop taking Nigerians for granted.
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki, yesterday, conveyed President Buhari’s greetings to senators while reading the president’s letter on extension of vacation and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s letter on confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN.
Also, the Acting President has sent the name of a non-career ambassadorial nominee from Ogun State to the Senate for confirmation.
No cause for worry – Buhari
Adesina’s statement read: “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 left Nigeria for London on January 19, 2017.
He was due to return after 10 official days but at the expiration of the period, he wrote to the National Assembly, extending his medical vacation indefinitely.
The continued stay of the President has, however, brewed controversy, dividing Nigerians in many respects.
Jolted by the statement, State House correspondents later sought more clarification from Adesina on President Buhari’s state of health.
The interview, at the Old Banquet Hall, Abuja, after a meeting on Promoting Effective Policy Monitoring and Evaluating and Performance of Ministers, Department and Agencies in the implementation of the 2016 Budget of Change organized by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, went thus:
Tell us more on the statement you issued.
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 rest 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.
Any possibility he will speak to Nigerians directly?
What he has just done is to speak to Nigerians.
What is actually wrong with the President?
Don’t you know that the Hippocratic Oath forbids even a doctor from speaking about the condition of his patient except the patient authorizes 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.
Why have they been harassing journalists, who have been trying to reach the President in the UK?
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 reports that he may remain there for months
What we have just said is what I will want us to believe. The President said he needs 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.
There are claims that the President has lost his voice.
Those people need to prove it. He spoke with President Donald 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.
Senate confirms receipt of Buhari, Osinbajo’s letters
Meanwhile, the Senate, resuming from a four-week suspension of plenary, yesterday, formally confirmed the receipt of President Buhari’s letter, extending his vacation as well as the letter from Acting President Osinbajo appointing Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen as the CJN.
Senate President Saraki read the two letters and another letter from Osinbajo, requesting the Senate to screen and subsequently confirm Mr Adeyinka Asekun from Ogun State as an additional non-career ambassador designate.
The Senate had on February 19 adjourned to enable standing committees attend to Ministries, Departments and Agencies over their 2017 Budget Defence.
The Senate had prior to resumption admitted receiving the letter from President Buhari prolonging his stay that he will not return to the country until his doctors ask him to do so.
Buhari’ s letter dated February 5, 2016 read: “Further to my letter dated January 18, 2017 in which I notified the distinguished Senate of taking part of my annual leave.
“During my leave I took the opportunity to have routine checkups and consult my long standing doctors in London. In the course of the routine examinations, certain tests results indicated the need for a course of medications and further appointments rescheduled for next week.
“I am therefore notifying the distinguished Senate that I am extending my leave until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out.
“In the circumstances, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo would continue to act on my behalf. Please accept distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration”.
Reading Osinbajo’s letter on Onnoghen dated February 7, 2017, Saraki noted that the Senate was urged to confirm Onnoghen pursuant to Section 231 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The letter read: “Following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, I hereby notify you of the appointment of Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN.
“ The Senate President is requested to kindly present the said appointment of the Honourable Justice Onnoghen for confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pursuant to section 231(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Please accept, Mr. Senate President, the assurances of my highest regards.”
Also yesterday, Senate President Saraki who led a delegation to London to visit President Buhari, told his colleagues that Buhari extended his greetings to the senators.
Saraki who told his colleagues at plenary that the president was in good spirit and health, said, “he was chatting as usual and conveys his best wishes and hopes to be back with us very soon.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has condoled with the House of Representatives over the death of Rep. Bello Sani representing Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency of katsina State and immediately adjourned plenary to today in honour of the late lawmaker.
Buhari must obey his doctors’directives – Ikokwu
Second Republic Politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu said: “Health issues are not matters one can toy with. Our president is definitely under a proficient medical attention. A good patient musty obey the medical directives of those in charge.”
No cause for alarm —Tsav
Retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said: “There should be no problem about that since he properly handed over to the Vice-President. I think he wants to make sure that he gets well properly before coming back. It is only if he had not handed over to his Vice as demanded by constitution that people will start getting worried.”
We’re in a season of power struggle – Afenifere
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said Nigeria is in another season of power struggle that may hurt governance.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin said: “We are in for another season of power struggle that would paralyse governance. Though the president has done the right thing by transmitting power, we know that his inner circle would commit all sorts in his name while limiting the Acting President with the bogey of ‘he is coming.’
They’re taking Nigerians for granted —Balarabe Musa
Former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa accused the Presidency of taking Nigerians for granted.
He said: “They are taking Nigerians for granted. Nigerians have to be taken into consideration because for the Presidency to make such statement shows that the situation is critical. It also means they are taking us for a ride.”
This was the same way the late Umaru Yar’Adua’s health was handled.
As for me, I hope the President is aware of this latest statement because as far as I am concerned, he may not have said it. The Federal government should make sure that Nigerians know the truth, we cannot continue to be left in the dark. We cannot trust his aides as well. We need the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who claim to have met him, to find out the truth and tell Nigerians the truth.”
The cabal around Buhari will destroy Nigeria – Mohammed
Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed, said if Nigerians were not careful, the cabal surrounding President Buhari will destroy Nigeria.
According to him, what Nigerians has seen so far shows the Presidency is not being truthful to Nigerians.
His words: “What is happening right now is very unfortunate because evidence has since shown that the President’s handlers are not telling us the truth. They are playing on the intelligence of the masses, who took time to register, vote and some even died while voting. I feel Nigerians deserve better than what we are getting right now.
“The 1999 Nigerian constitution is very clear that should the President be unable to prosecute his work, he should hand over power or resign instead of holding on to power. If the National Assembly does not move to impeach the President, corruption will continue in this government. The plan by the cabal around Buhari is to bundle him into the country and make it look as if he is ruling when he is not actually in charge. The cabal does not mean well for this country and if we are not careful, they will ruin this country.”
Let him speak with us like he spoke with Trump – Yerima
On his part, President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, Alhaji Shettima Usman Yerima, said the president should communicate with Nigerians the way he communicated with the US President, Donald Trump.
“We need to know the state of our president. If the president can communicate with the US President, like he claimed he did, Nigerians expect him to tell us the state he is. We need to know the state of his health. We cannot be taken for granted. We have been praying for him, we are praying for him and we will continue to pray for him but if he is incapacitated, the rule of law musts have its way. Failure to hear from the president will lead to Nigerians doing the needful. We cannot be kept in the dark. He is the president of Nigeria and Nigerians deserve a right to know from him because we want him back.”
Buhari’s declaration valid—Ajulo
On his part, a legal practitioner, Dr Kayode Ajulo said: “Section 145 of the 1999 constitution as amended is to the effect that when the president presents a written declaration of his inability to discharge the functions of his office to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the house of representatives, such a declaration is to vest such functions and capacity of his office to the vice president. This declaration is valid until the president presents another declaration to the contrary.”