Nigeria: President Buhari's health status dominates front pages in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The health status of President Muhammadu Buhari since he returned from London in March on a vacation and medical check up dominated front pages in Nigeria this week.

The issue became worrisome because the president, who normally presides over the Federal Executive Council (FEC), has stayed away from the meeting for a few weeks now.

However, his appearance at Friday's Jumat service, his first public appearance in two weeks, seemed to have doused tension.

Buhari left Nigeria on 19 January for United Kingdom for what the Presidency described as “a short leave.”

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President would during the vacation undergo “routine medical check-ups.” He said Buhari was expected to resume work on 6 February. But this was not to be as the president had to submit himself for a prolonged medical check up.

While in London Buhari's duties were performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The NATION, under the headline "Buhari attends Jumat in first public appearance after two weeks", reported that President Muhammadu Buhari joined scores of Muslims on Friday to observe the Jumat prayers at the Presidential Villa Mosque, Abuja.
It was his first public appearance in two weeks, and it came amidst concerns about his health.

According to the paper, Buhari was absent at last week’s Jumat prayers and the last two meetings of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed had told reporters that the President’s absence on those occasions was meant to enable him to rest.

The First Lady, Aisha, said the President’s ill health was not  as bad as was being speculated.

Buhari, accompanied by a retinue of aides, walked from his residence to the mosque at about 1.23 pm local time

He then exchanged pleasantries with some of those in attendance at the Jumat.

The VANGUARD ran the story under headline "Buhari’s appearance at Aso Villa Mosque douses tension over his health status", saying that Buhari's appearance at the mosque which came weeks after he had failed to appear in public is expected to douse tense about his whereabouts.

Before now, the president had for three consecutive times missed the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.

In his stead, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo functioned.

Consequently, the development prompted fresh concerns over the state of health of the President who returned from London on March 10 after an extended medical vacation.

But amid the growing anxiety, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Public, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement on 27 April, said that the President was hale and hearty but was taking some rest at the residence.

He said: “The Presidency hereby assures the good people of Nigeria that, despite the insinuations of a number of media organisations, there is no need for apprehension over the health of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.

The PUNCH, screamed "Buhari’s health status: CSOs, lawyers, others give FG ultimatum", reporting that Civil society organisations (CSO) and some lawyers have issued an ultimatum asking the Presidency to publicly disclose the true state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari on or before 29 May, to put a rest to speculations that the government has been hijacked by a cabal.

These groups and individuals have threatened to hold protests throughout the country against the alleged cabal in the presidency should the uncertainty over the President’s health status continue beyond his administration’s second anniversary in office, which is 29 May.

They expressed disappointment with the way information surrounding the President’s health status is being managed by his handlers and warned against a repeat of Nigerians’ experience during the government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Some of them also called on the President to resign from office if he is unfit to fully commit himself to the task of tackling the various problems of the country.

Yar’Adua’s time as President, in its twilight, was marred by allegations that a cabal had hijacked the Presidency following an ailment.

Speaking on the secrecy surrounding the health of President Buhari, the Campaign for Democracy Chief, Mr. Bako Usman, threatened that the group would protest if the Presidency failed to declare Buhari’s health status within two weeks or at most by 29 May.

He said it was high time “some cabal members” stopped holding Nigerians hostage by hiding the health condition of the President.

He said, “A cabal cannot be holding over 170 million Nigerians hostage because they are enjoying some sort of benefits to the detriment of us all.

“We are going to be a part of the struggle. We are protesting against the hiding of the President’s health status. History will not judge us right if we keep silent over the issue.

“We voted him into power, but his performance has been below expectations. Hiding his health status has not been helpful. There is nowhere in the constitution where the President’s health status should be treated as classified information. The secrecy is uncalled for.”

Likewise, the spokesperson for Free Nigeria Coalition, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said his group was giving “May 29 ultimatum to the presidency for full disclosure of Buhari’s health status”.

He said, “It is the irreducible minimum we’re demanding from the Presidency and President Buhari himself. We can’t continue in this occult-like political wilderness that a few persons – influence peddlers and money monger cabals- are trying to foist on us.

“We must resist this wickedness in totality because Nigeria is bigger than any individual. Before our eyes another dark episode is unfolding similar to what happened in 2010/2011. It will be a disservice to this nation and Mr. President himself if we don’t collectively act to rescue him from a set of wicked cabals.”

He said in the days to come, the group would organise a rally and even reach out to Nigerians to protest against the handling of Buhari’s health.

“If it requires us to occupy Abuja, we are ready to partner like-minded Nigerians to achieve this. It has reached that level now for us to hit the streets and demand to know the health status of Mr. President. It is a price we must pay and we must be ready to salvage our nation,” he said.

Also, the Publicity Secretary of Youth Arise for Nigeria, Liborous Oshoma, said it would be in order for the “President and the cabal to do the right thing on or before the administration’s second anniversary in office”.

A lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, said a recent statement by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that the President was resting until he was fit to resume work, should be seen as a confession that Nigeria’s leader was unfit.

Earlier on a social messaging service, WhatsApp, the lawyer had called for mass action to force out the alleged cabal in the Presidency, asking “the good people of Nigeria across the land to rise up to challenge the cabal that is holding Nigeria to ransom, in the face of the apparent incapacity of the President to direct the affairs of Nigeria, on account of his ill health.”

Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, popularly called Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, said, “We are in total support of May 29 ultimatum because it is obvious that some people are bent on holding the country to ransom and they are bent on achieving it because of money."

“They steal and pillage and quest for power, they have refused to let go. I think it is a ripe time to force them to free the country that has been in their wicked bondage.”

Meanwhile, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Mr. Chinonso Obasi, warned that if a cabal continues to keep secrets as regards the President’s health, the group would have no option but to protest.

The President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Malachy Ugwummadu, who described the situation as “unfortunate” and “regrettable” even as Nigerians continue to pray for Buhari’s full recovery, said Section 144 of the Nigerian Constitution clearly stipulates the way out of the current issue.

"Nigerian Medical Association tells Buhari to disclose his health status" was the headline of the DAILY POST which reported that the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose his health status to Nigerians.

The President of the NMA, Mike Ogirima, who gave this advice, noted that Buhari’s disclosure of his health status would douse tension and rumours about his well-being.

Ogirima described Buhari as the number one public servant and the father of the nation, adding that he had his rights and privileges.

The NMA President stated, “He is the number one public servant and the father of the nation. He has rights and privileges. It will douse a lot of rumours and tension, if he discloses his health status to the public.”

He also faulted the management of the information concerning Buhari, adding “The media team of the Presidency is not managing it (information around the President) well."
-0- PANA VAO 6May2017

06 may 2017 09:25:45




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