Niyi Odebode, Olusola Fabiyi, Fidelis Soriwei, Olalekan Adetayo and Friday Olokor
The Presidency on Thursday insisted that despite the rumour doing the rounds on President Muhammadu Buhari’s state of health, the President is not ill.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who said this in an interview with CNBC Africa, which was monitored in Abuja, said Buhari could not be compelled to speak from the United Kingdom. The Nigeria Labour Congress, however, said the President should speak to Nigerians from the UK.
Adesina insisted that Buhari was only in London, UK, for vacation and was not in any hospital.
He said, “The President is in London on vacation. He is not in any hospital and he is not ill.
“When he was travelling last week, the statement we put out was that he was going on vacation and during the vacation, he would do routine check-up and nothing has changed from what we pushed out last week.
“If anybody has fed something else into the rumour mill, that is just what it is – rumour.”
When asked if Buhari would be willing to talk to Nigerians from the UK, Adesina said the decision could only be taken by the President himself.
The presidential aide said any attempt to compel Buhari to do so would amount to infringement on his rights.
“The fact that he is a President, he still has his rights. Compelling him to come out and talk will be infringing on his rights. The President will talk if he wishes to. If he doesn’t wish to, nobody will compel him to talk.
“The truth is that the President is on vacation and he has given a date on which he will return to work,’’ Adesina said.
Also on Thursday, the Federal Government debunked the rumour doing the rounds that governors met in Abuja on Thursday and deliberated on the health of Buhari.
It said the report was false. It also added that the governors were also not planning to send representatives to London to see the President.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he received members of the Presidential Initiative Committee on the North-East, who visited him in Abuja.
Mohammed said there was no need for the alleged visit, stating that the President was merely observing his leave as stated in the letter sent to the Senate before leaving the country.
He called on Nigerians to stop wishing their leaders sickness and death, saying there was nothing wrong with the President.
The minister added, “I would like to use this medium to refute the claim in some quarters that governors would meet in Abuja today (Thursday) and have discussion over the health of the President.
“Those peddling the rumour also claimed that the governors would send emissaries to the President in London.
“The report is false because the governors are not going to meet and will not send any emissary anywhere because the President is hale and hearty.”
Mohammed appealed to Nigerians to stop preaching what he described as hate and also stop wishing their leaders bad things.
He also urged those behind the rumour to stop it forthwith.
NLC asks Buhari to speak to Nigerians
Meanwhile, the NLC has called on the President to speak to Nigerians.
The NLC argued that it would be proper for the President to make a public appearance to dispel rumours in the country about his health.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, told one of our correspondents on Thursday that the President should speak to Nigerians since Nigerians were worried about his health.
He said the President should call the bluff of those peddling orchestrated rumours by publicly addressing the citizenry.
Ozo-Eson said, “In the social media, stories circulate without confirmation; I think that the easiest way is to talk publicly to the nation because the citizens are concerned about their leaders’ whereabouts.
‘If there are those who orchestrated rumours and they are not true, the easiest way is for him to reach out to Nigerians through a public appearance and a statement.
“Nigerians have a right to be certain about the health situation of their President and the people who orchestrate rumours and unsubstantiated reports, one would wish for him to call their bluff by publicly addressing the citizens.”
But the TUC said it would not be necessary for the President to address Nigerians since he had not been away for long.
The President of the TUC, Mr. Bala Kaigama, stated that Buhari demanded a rest and handed over government to the Vice-President.
According to him, Nigerians can talk about the President’s health if he fails to return after the 10-day period of rest he requested.
He said, “Why do we have to make noise about this? He is coming back; if he were to go and stay for a very long time, it is a different thing. If we have patience, he will come back. We are just being unnecessarily demanding.
“This is somebody who demanded a rest and he has handed over the government to the Vice-President. So our concern is how the VP is handling it; but it his health that has become the issue of the moment.
“But we should allow the old man to have his rest. It is normal for somebody of that age to need rest from time to time. If he goes to rest that does not mean that government will not work now. Let the old man enjoy his rest.
“If he does not come back on the day he is supposed to come, that is when can talk, but for now, let’s allow him to have his rest, why does he have to come and address us? It doesn’t make any sense.”
The Executive Secretary, Anti-corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, faulted the call for Buhari to address the nation from the UK, describing it as mischief.
He said, “I do not subscribe to that. It smacks of mischief from such people. We are Africans. We have cultural discipline on some issues.
“He has done the appropriate thing by handing over to the VP as Acting President. Let us be patient and maintain a sense of decorum and respect to the institution of governance.’’