Tobi Soniyi and Olawale Ajimotokan
President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina launched another attempt yesterday to allay fears over the health of his principal, who is on a ten-day vacation in the United Kingdom, but has not been seen or heard from since his departure last week.
Speaking on a live CNBC Africa interview, Adesina said Buhari was not ill or on admission in any hospital in London, adding: “When he was travelling last week, the statement we put out was that he was going on vacation and during the vacation he would undergo a routine medical 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, a rumour.”
However, Adesina stirred the hornet’s nest, when he said the president would decide if he wanted to speak to Nigerians from the UK or not.
He said: “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 when he will return to work,” the president’s spokesman said.
Similarly, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed yesterday dismissed a report (not THISDAY) that state governors held a meeting yesterday in Abuja to consider sending a delegation to verify the status of the president in London.
Muhammed said such emissary was unwarranted since Buhari was in good shape.
He made the rebuttal in Abuja when he received members of the Sub-committee on Economic Development of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative (PCNI),
“I think it is very much in order to use this opportunity to debunk the report that governors are meeting in Abuja to send an emissary to London to see President Buhari.
“I want to say categorically and emphatically that there is no iota of truth in this. The governors did not meet here in Abuja, because there was no need for it and there is no plan to send any emissary to London to see the president.
“Again, I want to say that the president is hale and hearty in London where he is observing his 10-day vacation.
“Let us all shun the negative reports insinuating the president’s illness and death. We implore those behind this outright falsehood to desist.
“It is because Nigeria exists that they can practice their profession. We implore them to stop overheating the society,” he said.
He said he fully appreciated the enormity of the humanitarian challenge in the North-east having visited parts of Borno State, including the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps on his assumption of office in 2015.
The minister asked Nigerian to take ownership of the war against Boko Haram by changing the narrative on the North-east, saying no rehabilitation and recovery would take place when people downplay the scale of the effect of insurgency on the region and country.
He promised to partner with PCNI in efforts to de-radicalise the youths in the region, whose orientation had been affected by the warped ideology of Boko Haram.
Chairman of the sub-committee, Yusuf Buba recalled that Buhari had itemised some of the economic priorities of the committee to include infrastructure development, agricultural revitalisation, education, transformation, security and health reforms.