As president resumes work on Monday
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu; JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja; Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri; WOLE BALOGUN, Ado-Ekiti; Gyang Bere, Jos; Agaju Madugba, Katsina; Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will officially resume work on Monday after being away from his desk for 52 days on medical vacation.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, confirmed this while clarifying a statement by the president purportedly misconstrued by the public.
Adesina, through his twitter handle, @FemAdesina, said the president, who returned to the country yesterday after some weeks medical vacation in London, would on Monday transmit letter to the National Assembly to formally register his return to the country.
“…That makes his return to work formal, and constitutional,” the presidential spokesman said.
The Presidency, also, in series of tweets on its twitter handle @DigiCommsNG, described as taking out of context, reports that President Buhari has said he would continue to rest while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo continues to act.
Buhari had, during the meeting with the Federal Executive Council (FEC) members, shortly after he arrived Abuja in a chopper, which flew him from Kaduna NAF base, where his aircraft first touched down, said that: “I deliberately came back towards the weekend, so that the Vice President will continue and I will continue to rest”.
The clarification came as indications emerged that some of the present ministers and political appointees may go in a likely cabinet reshuffle set to be one of the first major actions President Buhari will take on settling down to duty.
It was learnt that the president has resolved to tinker with the FEC, as impeccable sources said, to remove “dead woods”, who have lost relevance, or have not contributed meaningfully to his administration’s drive to deliver on its electoral promises.
Saturday Sun learnt that the period of rest had enabled the president to appraise the performance of his government vis a vis the individual contributions of his ministers and other appointees in their respective portfolios and has thus decided to replace some of them. However, details of those to be affected are still being kept close to the president’s chest.
It was also gathered that Buhari would review his relationship with some of his political allies, “who took advantage of his long absence to redefine the political agenda along personal selfish interests.”
President admits being ill
Meanwhile controversies which dogged the president’s long stay abroad continued, even as President Buhari himself laid to rest speculations on the status of his health, admitting that he had indeed been sick.
Countering repeated denials by the Presidency that he was hale and hearty and merely on vacation in London, the president said, while meeting with members of FEC, heads of security agencies and governors yesterday that he had never been so sick in his life.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, as well as Presidential Spokesman, Adesina had at different times told Nigerians that Buhari was well and sound but only on extended holiday based on his doctor’s advice and the need to carry out more medical tests.
Buhari, who arrived the Presidential Villa at 8.37am, was received by his aides, all heads of security agencies and the governors of Kogi State and his Zamfara counterpart, Yahaya Bello, Abdulaziz Yari.
Addressing the country from the State House, President Buhari said he was fully committed to serving the nation and protecting the right of all Nigerians.
The President alluded to the fact that he underwent lots of tests and even had a blood transfusion, but remarked that he felt better.
He said he would, however, need to do further follow-ups within some weeks.
He thanked Nigerians for their prayers for him. “I have rested as much as humanly possible, I have received I think the best of treatment I could receive. I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including the military with its ups and downs. I found out that technology is going so fast that if you have a lot of confidence you better keep it because you need it. Blood transfusions, going to the laboratories, and so on and so forth, but I am very pleased that we, when I say we, I mean the government and the people all over are trying to keep with technology.
The President who said the best way to pay back Nigerians is to rededicate himself to service to the country, protecting the nation’s interest in order to keep the trust, advised against sending delegations to Abuja to welcome him.
He lauded his deputy, Prof Osinbajo for holding the forte. “I am pleased that the Vice President enjoyed this break and he has to do much more this time around. Youth and intellect is squarely behind him, age and purely military experience is behind me.
Continue to do the work, Nigeria will continue whether we are here or not …” In his remark, the Vice President, Osinbajo said Nigerians and the Federal Executive Council were happy to receive the President back in the country. “It is a day of joy not only for us but for the whole country, Africa and the world. Mr. President… For me I must say that it has been an interesting period going around the nation maybe in borrowed robes. I must say I had a very interesting and challenging time, but above all, the president gave us the good support”, he said.
The Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, Yari, welcomed the president on behalf of the 36 governors.
The Information Minister, Mohammed, said the president’s return had vindicated their position. He thanked all Nigerians for their prayers and Osinbajo for giving cabinet members a sense of belonging. He prayed that God would continue to heal the president
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, assured that whatever the desires of the president as regards security would be achieved.
However, in Ekiti, the governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose and the state’s All Progressives Congress (APC) tackled themselves over the sudden, but safe return to the country of President Buhari.
While the APC accused Fayose of wishing Buhari dead, the governor denied ever nursing such a thought.
Speaking through its state Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, the party expressed delight over President Buhari’s successful medical trip to London, adding that his return had vindicated its claim that the President was not terminally ill as being portrayed in some quarters opposed to the anti-corruption war of the APC-led Federal Government.
It also expressed appreciation to Nigerians who offered prayers and goodwill for the quick recovery of the president.
The party, which accused Fayose of a death wish for him, enthused that the governor “has been put to shame with Buhari’s arrival hale and hearty on Friday.”
It added: “We also commend the Presidency and the President for not dignifying Fayose with a response when he cynically requested Buhari
to call him to prove that he was alive.”
But, reacting, while speaking to newsmen when he signed a condolence register in honour of late General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Governor
Fayose said: “Whether they say shame to us or they abuse me, goodluck to the Presidents’ loyalists and APC. Nobody would wish President
Buhari dead. What is important is that for the President to stay away for that long, anybody would feel concerned about it. So, we pray that may God give him the strength to do his job. He has a job to do, so we will continue to pray for him to be well to fix the economy, put food on our table, we cannot task a sick man on these challenges, we will continue to pray for him to be well and bring the dollar back to N200 or less.
“We don’t have power over life and we have to continue to thank God that the President is alive strong and back. Anybody can be sick whether you are young or old. What is important is that God should give him the strength to be alive and do what we expect him to do for our country. I just leant that he said he would be going back in a few weeks’ time we have to keep our fingers crossed.
Clarifying his earlier critical position Fayose said: “There is no doubt that age is not on his side like every other person and there are many health challenges that comes with aging. What is best is that we continue to pray for him because the Holy books say we should pray for our leaders in authority.”
Jubilation across nation
There was jubilation yesterday across the country, especially Katsina, Kaduna, Borno, Enugu, Jos, the Plateau State capital as President Buhari returned to the country yesterday.
Many of his admirers and well wishers had earlier gone to Kaduna Airport in hope that his aircraft would land there.
But the few ones who got the information that his destination was the NAF base, found their way there, arriving as early as 5am despite early mourning harmattan.
Although many of these missed sighting him disembark from the plane, they kept on hailing at an official convoy: “Baba Oyoyo, Baba Oyoyo” which, means, “Baba welcome, Baba welcome”, when Buhari had already been airlifted with an helicopter to Abuja.
The president reportedly avoided Kaduna airport because the VIP lounge of the airport, also known as the presidential wing, was still undergoing reconstruction at the time flights were diverted from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Air Force plane that conveyed the president, registered No N5 FGT, landed at the Air Force base tarmac at exactly 7.47am.
President Buhari alighted from the aircraft at 7.55am, waving at people, and he was received by the state deputy governor, Mr. Barnabas Bala Bantex and top military officers.
As early as 8 am, there was celebration in major streets in Jos North Local Government area of the Plateau State, particularly in Muslim-dominated districts, where youths, women and the aged came out to jubilate on hearing the cheering news.
Shops were closed and most primary and secondary schools students absconded schools activities to joint the celebration in their school uniforms.
Also, motorcycles riders and taxi drivers in Bauchi road Jos, offered passengers free rides in solidarity with the celebration of the president’s safe return.
Young boys and girls moved from one street to another, playing music to express their joy.
A resident, Bala Adamu who sells kola nut and a newspaper vendor, Bashir Ado said: “We are celebrating because we have missed President Buhari since he left the country on medical vacation in January. We have heard so many stories that broke our hearts but we have remained steadfast, praying to God for his safe arrival. His return calls for celebration and jubilation because we have missed him, we need him to continue the fight against insurgency, corruption and to revamp our economy.”
Also in Enugu, the Buhari Support Organization (BSO), Enugu State Chapter, hailed the return of President Buhari, saying it has put to an end unwarranted suspense, anxiety and all manner of rumours from his traducers, some of who, it said, had wished him dead.
The organisation in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Eze Chibueze, thanked God for the president to return, welcoming him in the Igbo parlance, “Papa anata oyoyo.
“In sum, we pray that Mr President reflects the old tree cited above so that the quiet Buhari revolution aimed at laying a solid foundation for a transparent, prosperous and progressive Nigeria will be consummated,” the group said.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina, home state of the president, described his safe return as the best gift Nigerians had, had this year.
He also commended Nigerians for the outpouring of love, which he noted a cross section of Nigerians expressed during the president’s medical vacation abroad, and his eventual return.
In a press statement in Katsina yesterday, Masari said that: “All praise be to Allah, the Almighty, who has answered our collective prayers by returning the president back to us hale and hearty, to continue leading us in the just, fair and sincere manner that are his trademark over the years.”
He also lauded Nigerians for their prayers for the health and
wellbeing of President Buhari while he was away.
Reports from the president’s hometown of Daura said that residents trooped out in large numbers early on Friday morning and converged on the palace of the Emir, jubilating over his safe return.
And, in Katsina metropolis, a cross section of jubilating residents also celebrated the return by dancing and chanting various pro-Buhari slogans along some of the major streets. Some of them displayed posters some of which proclaimed, “Sai Baba” and “Baban mu ya dawo” (Our father has returned).
Also, hundreds of youths yesterday gathered at a popular junction in Maiduguri, Borno State capital to celebrate the president’s return.
The youths, who arrived the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Way junction along Banks Area in the city with big loud speakers and music players at about 9am, launched into a carnival-like spectacle. They also held brooms, symbol of the ruling All Progressive Party (APC), which they waved repeatedly at passersby and motorists moving along the area.
“We are happy because Baba is back in the country,” one of the youths who identified himself as Saleh told Saturday Sun. Others who came to the arena in their tricycles also displayed their artistry of cycling all in celebration of Buhari’s return.
Some of the youths carried placards with inscriptions; “Sai Baba, “Buhari welcome, “Baba Buhari: mai gaskiya” (Baba Buhari, the truthful). Some of them also carried the APC flag, occasionally stopping vehicles and asking drivers if they were aware of the president’s return.