• Chairman of Govs Forum leads delegation, parley holds today
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State governor, Abdullaziz Yari, leading six other governors, one representing each of the geopolitical zone, would meet recuperating President Muhammadu Buhari in London at 3pm today.
The six governors namely: Dave Umahi, Ebonyi, (South East); Umar Ganduje, Kano (North West); Kassim Shettima, Borno North East); Samuel Ortom, Benue (North Central); Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom South South, and Abiola Ajumobi. Oyo, South West) left Abuja last night to arrive London this morning.
This disclosure was made, yesterday, by spokespersons for the Presidency, including the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Shehu Garba and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Acting President, Laolu Akande, who briefed State House correspondents in Abuja.
A break down of the delegation showed that four of the governors are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) while Umahi and Emmanuel are members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Adesina said the briefing was necessitated by what he described as a major development about the health of the president after the visit of the All Progressive Congress (APC) governors to London at the weekend.
On why Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose who has been vocal on the president’s health issue was not on the delegation, Adesina explained: “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.”
However, in his reaction to NGF’s delegation, Fayose said in a text message: “I wish the president quick recovery. The PDP governors or governors travelling are competent, responsible enough to represent the forum.”
Asked why the president was yet to address Nigerians, Adesina replied: “It’s 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.”
Shehu said the visit was a goodwill visi.
“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…As a cultural people, we visit people leaving hospital and I’m sure the president himself will be delighted to see people from the six geo-political zones, coming to convey the goodwill of Nigerians.”
On the need for a second delegation when those on the weekend visit were also members of the NGF and who was sponsoring the trip, Adesina said: “You will notice that those that went at the weekend are members of All Progressive Congress (APC), so those who are going now is on a broader platform which is the Nigerian Governors Forum. As to who is sponsoring, I don’t have any information on that.”
When told that it was curious that while the news was that the president will soon be back another delegation was headed for London, Adesina said: “It should be the other way. Instead of being curious it should be the right time for the visit. When somebody has recovered or something or the other happened, it is in our culture for us to visit such a person. So, this is the right time because the news is that he is recovering and recovering well. I’m sure you are aware of the letter he just wrote to the African Union Chairman when he told him that he is making very good progress. So, this is the proper time for him to receive delegations rather than when he was indisposed.”
He, however, declined to be drawn into when the president would be back or whether cabinet reshuffle was in the pipeline.
“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.
“In terms of whether there will be a shakeup of government or not, the president is the head of the government and is his prerogative, so nobody can speak for him on that.”
Shehu said the absence of presidency spokespersons on the delegation was to save cost, adding that the fact that the president’s personal photographer was in London made it more beneficial as pictures speak more than words.
The visit is coming in the wake of earlier ones by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the APC chieftains led by the national chairman, after which the presidency released photographs of Buhari dining with his guests.
Buhari left for London on Sunday May 7 for follow-up medical consultation with his doctors.
Although he had transmitted letters to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, his absence for nearly 80 days has led to anxiety with some speculating that he might have died.
But Osinbajo said after his meeting with Buhari in London on July 7 that the president was recuperating.
“…He is in very high spirit, he is recuperating very well and we had very long conversation, we spoke for well over an hour and his humor is all there. He is doing well and he is recuperating fast.”
Asked when he was due back, Osinbajo said: “… I think we should really expect him back very shortly. Like I said, he is recuperating very fast and he is doing very, very well.”
On whether Nigerians should expect Mr. President before 90 days, he replied: “No no. Deadlines aren’t a very good thing but as I said he is recuperating fast; we’re expecting him very shortly. Much sooner, perhaps, than you will expect.”
A delegation of APC chieftains including the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, governors Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna; Yahaya Bello of Kogi and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who visited the president in London also said he was in high spirit.
The Imo state governor told the BBC’s Newshour programme on Monday: “I met a very hardy man in high spirits, and he’s doing quite well. He has not lost his sense of humour, for which is he known for.
“So he is doing quite well and we are very pleased to see him and I think that has gone a long way to reassure Nigerians about the health of their president.”
Okorocha said Buhari had laughed off rumours concerning his health when asked about them.
“President Buhari was completely unperturbed by the cocktail of lies. He, instead, sent his best wishes to Nigerians,” Okorocha said.
The first lady, Aisha, had also visited him on May 30 and returned a week later on June 6.
Mrs. Buhari who returned to London on Tuesday July 3 hinted on her Facebook page that Buhari was recovering and would soon return.
One of the promises of the Buhari administration was to end medical tourism. However, getting treated for ailments outside the country has become a routine of the president.