Buhari Extends Medical Leave Indefinitely, Nigerians React

By Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade and Chiemelie Ezeobi

The social media went into overdrive sunday once got word got out that President Muhammadu Buhari had written yet another letter to the National Assembly notifying it that he was extending his leave in the United Kingdom in order to complete and get the results of the medical tests recommended by his physicians.

Muhammadu Buhari, former Nigerian military ruler and presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) speaks during an interview with Reuters at a private residence in Lagos February 19, 2011. Buhari, the main opposition candidate in Nigeria's presidential election, said he was optimistic it would be a more credible race than in the past but warned events in north Africa showed people would no longer accept a rigged vote. Picture taken February 19, 2011. To match Interview NIGERIA-BUHARI/ REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)

From his well wishers and “prayer warriors” to the downright wacky commentators and conspiracy theorists, the satirists and his critics, several Nigerians had something to say about the extension of Buhari’s vacation in the UK.

A statement yesterday from the president’s spokesman Mr. Femi Adesina confirmed the extension of Buhari’s leave and Nigerians’ worst fears that all may not be well with their president.

It was not helped by the fact that Adesina’s statement did not indicate when the president would return to the country, or the number of days by which his stay abroad had been extended.

Adesina said the president had planned to return to Abuja Sunday evening, but was advised to complete the tests before returning.

He said the notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Adesina said the president expressed his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concerns, prayers and kind wishes.

In addition the president’s second media aide, Mr. Garba Shehu clarified that Buhari was not in any serious condition and not in any hospital in London.

While shedding more light on the president’s decision to extend his vacation, Shehu said the president was residing at the Nigerian High Commission in London.

He said: “I just spoke to the president’s personal doctor, and he told me President Buhari is not in any serious condition to worry about.

“He is not in hospital. He is in the residence at the Nigerian High Commission.”

He explained that the president was ready to return home as scheduled but for the arrival of his medial test results which indicated he needed further tests.

“He and his delegation were ready to come home today but for the delayed test results which came in today and necessitated that he delays his return.

“There is nothing to worry about as far as his condition is concerned,” Shehu said.

Also yesterday, the presidency alerted Senate President Bukola Saraki that it shall be sending the letter notifying the National Assembly of the extension of Buhari’s vacation in Britain.

THISDAY learnt last night that though the letter was yet to be received by Saraki, he had been told through a phone conversation that he might receive the letter either last night or first thing this morning unfailingly.

Buhari left Nigeria for the UK on vacation on January 19 and was slated to return yesterday, preparatory to resumption of work today.

While in the UK, the president was also to undergo a routine medical check up, the presidency had said before his departure.

However, while in the UK, speculation was rife over his health. Some online media outlets went as far as reporting fake news on the president death while others speculated that he was in a critical condition.

Many Nigerians at the time had demanded that the president address the country from wherever he was to reassure the nation. However, that never happened.

In order to douse fears over his well being, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Buhari’s media aides issued a number of statements allaying concerns over is health.

These were followed by the release of photographs to substantiate the claim that the president was alive and well.

The first photograph showed the Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun and Senator Daisy Danjuma visiting the president in London. Another showed the president having either lunch or dinner with Amosun, while the two others showed the president’s wife Aisha sitting and standing beside him.

Some, however, doubted the authenticity of the photographs demanding that the president himself should address the nation.

Last Monday, a statement was also issued by the vice-president’s media aide, Mr. Laolu Akande claiming that the president had personally called the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mr. Solomon Lalung to commiserate with him on the death of his wife, Briskila.

But as the nation waited with bated breath yesterday for the president’s jet to touch down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the information minister issued a statement denying a report attributed to him saying that all the presidential jets were undergoing repairs and none was available to fly the president back to Nigeria.

His spokesman Mr. Segun Adeyemi said: “Our attention has been drawn to a report quoting the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, as saying that the president’s return to Nigeria may be hampered by a faulty aircraft.

“The minister has not spoken to anyone on the issue of the president’s return, hence this report is another from the stable of the purveyors of fake news and should be disregarded.”

Source: thisdaylive.com

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