——Excludes media to save money
—–As Yari leads delegation
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE presidency Tuesday exonerated itself from the selection of the seven governors that were chosen to visit President Mugammadu Buhari in London, saying that the selection was handled by the governors forum.
The presidency also said that the non inclusion of the media team especially television or newspapers could be to save money.
The delegation led by the Chairman of Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari has Governors of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Umar Gandoje of Kano State, Kassim Shettima of Borno State, the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom who has been out of the country for about two weeks, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Abiola Ajumobi of Oyo state as members.
Meantime, the media team of the presidency has said that it is only the medical team of President Buhari who has been on medical vacation since 7th May can determine when the President would return to Nigeria.
Briefing State House Correspondents on the visit of the seven governors led by the Chairman of Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adeshina said the presidency had no hand in the selection of the delegates to London.
Adeshina who made the clarification while fielding question on why Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State who is the Chairman of of the Peoples Democratic Party
was left out on the delegation said, “The selection was by the governors forum and you will see that the delegation is headed by governor Yari who is chairman of that forum. So that question should go to the forum.”
He explained that unlike the previous visit to the president made by only members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) governors, this delegation was on a broader platform, the NGF, with membership also drawn from the opposition.
Adesina however informed that he did not have information on who was sponsoring the trip.
On why the president preferred the broadcast option while addressing Nigerians, he said, “It is a question of what he prefers and this is what he prefers for now. He would rather receive that delegation and that is what is happening. If the president opts for address option he will do it.”
He further explained the reason for the visit against the backdrop that it had been reported that President Buhari was recuperating, he said it was the best time for the president to receive visitors as he was recovering.
He said: “Instead of being curious, it should be the right time for the visit. When somebody has recovered or something has happened, it’s in our culture to visit such a person. So, this is the right time to visit the president because the news is that he is recovering and recovering well.”
The presidential aide was unable to confirm the date of two weeks time for the return of the president as announced by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state.
Okorocha, who led APC governors and party leaders to see Buhari last Wednesday, had assured that the president could return to Nigeria within two weeks.
However, Adesina insisted that only the president’s doctors could determine his exact date of return.
The spokesman noted that if anybody had put a date on Buhari’s return, the person could have information that is not available to the media team.
On when the president would return, Adesina stated: “That already is in public domain. He will come back when the doctors certify.
“It is in the letter he wrote to the AU chairman which was made public this afternoon (Tuesday). It also contains that one. He said he was just waiting for his doctors to tell him all is well and then he will return home.
“If anybody is giving a timeline, that person might have information that we don’t have yet.
“But the information at our disposal is that the president will return as soon as his doctors give him the go ahead.”
On his own while giving details on the governors’ mission to the president, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, described it as a goodwill visit.
According to him, “The visit is a goodwill visit and there is nothing more than that. I believe Nigerians in various position have yearned to go meet the president and at some point this obviously has not been permitted.
“But given the change in circumstances, you can see that coming from London itself and from the president is welcoming. Is a goodwill visit.
“As a cultural people, we visit people leaving hospital and I’m sure the president himself will be delighted to see people coming from six geo-political zones, coming to convey the goodwill of Nigerians.”
On the absence of presidential media aide on the London trip, he said it may be a way for government to save money.
He said: “Well, how about you thinking about it this way? Probably, we will be saving money.
“Let me tell you, you know I have respects for photographers, we all do and the cameramen. Bayo Omoboriwo (Personal Photographer to the President), is on the flight which is more important than me being there, which he is.
“They say a picture conveys more than a thousand words. Bayo will be there and I think it will be more beneficial to Nigerians than if the Special Adviser was on that trip without a cameraman.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on media and publicity, Laolu Akande, spoke on the October take off of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, in Delta state and the ongoing efforts to clean up Ogoniland.
He said, “Next week there is going to be a follow up meeting between the Acting President and the PANDEF.
“You will recalled that last November the President has held a meeting with the leaders of PANDEF where issues of Niger Delta development was discussed in which the Acting President embarked on the visit to the states of the Niger Delta. And since then the president asked that an inter-ministerial committee be composed led by the Vice President to look at all the issues, specifically using the PANDEF demand as the take off point.
“That inter-ministerial committee has been meeting virtually every week. and next week there is going to be a report from the government side, the inter-ministerial committee by acting president and PANDEF.
“Some of the issues to be discussed at the meeting include for instance the issue of modular refineries which we hope that starting from August the will be groundbreaking for the first set of modular refineries.
“Regarding Ogoni clean up, there are also going to give an update of what has been happening. For instance, the coordinating team that was set up for the Ogoni clean up conducted health impact assessment, they have done salt test, water test, they have hired a number of son’s and daughters of Ogoni who are trained on environmental sciences as technical assistants, I think about 15 of them.
“In the next few weeks they are going to go back to Geneva where a wholistic road map on the clean up itself will be concluded with the international partners.
“Another highlight that will be discussed at that meeting is the plan to open the Maritime University in Okorinko in October this year..
“At the last meeting the vice chancellor was asked to bring take off budget that will be approved. Already the NUC has approved a number of courses that will take off once the university is ready to open.”