By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA- A telephone conversation between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump of the United States, yesterday, appeared to have squelched anxieties about the health of the Nigerian president and also refreshed hopes for increased American support for the country’s anti-insurgency war.
The telephone conversation, which was at the instance of President Trump, was part of the new American President’s familiarisation efforts with world leaders.
Trump spoke with Buhari on a dedicated phone line routed to Abuja House, the London official residential building of the Nigeria Embassy, where Buhari is spending his medical vacation.
A further claim of Buhari being in fine fettle was given by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who confirmed visiting the President in London.
Besides confirming that Buhari was doing fine, Amosun refused to give more indications on the state of the President.
Anxiety over the president’s health assumed renewed national concern at the weekend after the President failed to return to the country, despite claims from associates that he had finished his medical examination and was expected back last weekend.
The unease was heightened by revelations that the letter to the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, in which the President asked for an extension of his medical vacation did not give a precise date for his return.
The President was quoted to have said that he would return only after getting the official clearance from his London doctors.
A statement from the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina on the conversation between Buhari and Trump, stated that the “conversation was cordial and President Buhari congratulated Trump on his election as President of the United States, and on his cabinet.”
The statement added that the “two leaders discussed ways to improve cooperation in the fight against terrorism through provision of necessary equipment.”
It further stated that “President Trump encouraged President Buhari to keep up the good work he is doing, and also commended him for the efforts made in rescuing 24 of the Chibok girls and the strides being taken by the Nigerian military.”
Trump “assured the Nigerian President of US readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism.”
The American President also invited Buhari to Washington “at a mutually convenient date.”
Also, yesterday, Governor Amosun confirmed that President Buhari was fine. Speaking to newsmen on the sidelines of an event at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Amosun confirmed visiting the President in London.
He, however, did not give the time of the visit or confirm if the picture recently circulated of the two of them emanated from that encounter.
“Yes it is true I visited our President in London, and he is doing fine. If you ask me pointedly whether I saw him or not, yes I did, and that is the only thing that I can say. And, of course, you can see he is very well; he is okay. So, I don’t know what else you want me to say,” Mr. Amosun said.
Asked how the President looked when he saw him, the governor threw back the question to the journalists, saying the President’s media team was in a better position to speak for the President.
“I am not one of the spokespersons of Mr. President; so it will be out of place for me to talk on that. But then, they are doing their job, and you’ve listened to all that they have said,” Governor Amosun said.