Olalekan Adetayo, Friday Olokor and Kamarudeen Ogundele
President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation will on Monday (today) enter its fourth week.
The President has been away from the country for 24 days (16 working days) having left for London, United Kingdom on January 19.
As of the time he was leaving, Buhari had written the National Assembly that he would proceed on a short vacation that would see him undergoing check-ups from January 24 and would resume on February 6.
He has since transmitted another letter in which he said he had decided to extend the vacation because of the need for “a course of medications and further appointments” with his doctors.
Throughout the weekend, presidential aides and officials attached to the Protocol Unit of the Presidential Villa, Abuja were put on standby on the President’s possible return to the country.
Efforts made by agitated State House correspondents for information on the arrangements to receive the President on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport also did not yield any result.
As of the time of filing this report on Sunday evening, it was still not clear when Buhari would return to the country.
His wife, Aisha, had however on Saturday returned from Saudi Arabia where he participated in Lesser Hajj.
Many saw her return to the country as a prelude to the President’s arrival.
Amidst various speculations on the state of health of the President, his handlers including the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had insisted that he is hale and hearty.
Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly, announcing the extension of his vacation had read, “Further to my letter dated 18th January, 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 check-ups and consult my long standing doctors in London.
“In the course of the routine examinations, certain test result indicated the need for a course of medications and further appointments have been scheduled 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, the vice-president will continue to act on my behalf.
“Please accept, Distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
Meanwhile, a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on Sunday expressed concern about the perceived politicisation of the foreign medical trip of President Buhari with a call on Nigerians to cultivate the habit of encouraging their leaders, rather than demonising them.
According to her, the present economic hardship in the country should not lead to some citizens wishing their leaders dead.
“Speaking positively about our leaders and country will no doubt have a positive impact on our collective image around the world. Agreed, there is much suffering in the land but this should not change us from being the good people that we have always been, by wishing our leaders dead. Let us have a rethink. We can’t afford to cut our noses to spite our faces. We must not lose our humanity even in the face of hardship and recession, because it is our collective effort to build this nation,” the ex-EFCC chairman emphasised.
Waziri, in a statement obtained by The PUNCH in Abuja, said while “great nations adore their leaders, especially the good ones, and do not talk ill of them, Nigerians do not wish their leaders well.”
She said, “The world over, great nations – whether the US, UK, China, Germany or France and more – they don’t talk ill of their leaders, instead, they encourage them and build them as exemplary national figures. As the wife of Nigeria’s Ambassador to Turkey in 2004-2008, I arrived at Atatürk Airport Istanbul, my escort informed me proudly that the airport is named after the father of modern Turkey.
“Downtown Istanbul main street was also adorned with portraits of the man, Atatürk. This, to me, is one clear way to encourage and build our national figures and leaders. Let the good ones serve as good examples of good leadership and the bad ones as such.
“During an event, there was a general discussion on various leaders from different countries: Ghandi (India), Mandela (South Africa) Nyerere (Tanzania), Kenyatta (Kenya). Now a lady asked me what was the name of the Atatürk of Nigeria and for the first time I realised that Nigerians do not appreciate their leaders but would rather bad-mouth them.
“I was taken aback by the question and tried to run through my mind the names of our leaders. Now, this is the question: why do we want our leaders dead or spread rumours that they are dead? …For the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, it took the wittiness and ingenuity of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to halt the rumour mill by placing a call publicly to the late President. Now our President is on vacation and seizing the opportunity to undergo medical check-up and instead of wishing him well, Nigerians are busy spreading rumour about his death.”
Also, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, has said looters were the ones wishing President Buhari dead to escape prosecution.
He stated that Buhari had so far given the country exemplary leadership and cleared the rot left behind by the 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party, which he said, had damaged the economy of the nation.
Ojudu spoke while hosting leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress from the 16 Local Government Areas of Ekiti State at his residence in Ado Ekiti.
He urged the APC members in Ekiti to be united and continue aggressive mobilisation ahead of the 2018 governorship poll to wrest power from Governor Ayodele Fayose-led PDP in the state.
Ojudu said, “Our President is honest, patriotic, committed and passionate that this country must be great. Nobody can accuse the President of fraud, corruption and stealing in government.”
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