The Peoples Democratic Party and major groups, including the Nigeria Voters’ Assembly and the National Association of Resident Doctors, on Tuesday, differed on the latest development on President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation.
While the NVA said the President’s statement on his health was a message of hope, the PDP said it wished the President well.
The NARD said his absence could create some gaps, which could lead to power play at the federal level.
Buhari had, on Tuesday, said the results of a series of checkups he carried out in the course of his medical vacation had shown that he needed longer period of rest.
He said this necessitated his staying back in London longer than initially planned.
The President said this in a four-paragraph statement made available to journalists by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
Adesina did not disclose how long the President’s “longer period of rest” would take.
He, however, thanked Nigerians for their prayers and good wishes while assuring them that there was no cause for worry.
The statement read, “The President is immensely grateful for the prayers, show of love and concern.
“President Buhari wishes to reassure Nigerians that there is no cause for worry.
‘”During his normal annual checkup, tests showed he needed a longer period of rest, necessitating the President staying longer than originally planned.”
The President of NARD, Dr. Onyebueze Ugochukwu, urged Nigerians to pray for the quick recovery of the President.
He prayed that the Acting President would sustain the fight against corruption and insurgency.
Ugochukwu believed that the absence of the President would create some gaps in communication, decision-making and implementation.
“These gaps may lead to some internal bickering and power play. This is bound to happen when those in his management team depart from project Nigeria to pursue personal interest,” he stated.
Aso, the National Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yinka Odumakin, said the cabal around the President would put pressure on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He said, “The implication of his long stay is that the country would technically pause for the period he is going to be away. There would be a lot of power play with the cabal around the President, breathing down the neck of the Acting President with ‘the President said’ even when he did not say. They may even sign things in his name knowing that the Acting President does not have regular access.
“We are in for a season of dual Presidency as the power bloc around the President will maximise this season. The President should be commended for transmitting power to his deputy unlike Yar’Adua, who did not transfer power or possibly had his transmission seized by the cabal.”
In his reaction, the President of the NVA, Mashood Erubami, in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, said Nigerians should be happy that the evil wishes of some unnamed enemies for the President had not come to pass.
He said, “We should thank God for the message from the President; a message of hope, which should be well managed to advance the cause of good governance.
“Hitherto, Nigerians were worried that the President was not communicating directly with them as they had to rely on good faith with third party information.
“Now that he can be quoted to have said he will stay longer to rest well before he returns, he is only being truthful and honest with Nigerians. We should all be happy that the evil wishes of the enemies of progress have not come to pass.”
Also, the Executive Secretary Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, lauded the President’s statement.
He said, “I am sure that if the situation gets to the extent that he can no longer be the President, the Buhari that I know will obviously take the path of honour and be the first to so declare. Nevertheless, he has obtained annual leave legally; he has transferred Presidential power to his Vice-President as required by the constitution and has informed Nigerians.”
The national leadership of the PDP said it would continue to pray for Buhari.
The Acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Bernard Mikko, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mikko stated, “The President’s request should be viewed in accordance with our statutes. Though the terms of his vacation have not been made clear to most Nigerians, most Nigerians wish him well. No patriotic Nigerian will wish his President otherwise.
“He can be excused within the ambit of the law. I don’t know the status of his health and can’t comment on his physical or mental suitability.
“From the age of 50, who is 100 per cent healthy?”
Saraki briefs Senate on visit to Buhari
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, briefed members of the Senate on his trip to the United Kingdom to visit Buhari.
Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara; and the Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, had on Wednesday, last week, met with Buhari, who is on leave in London, attending to his health.
When the lawmakers resumed from a three-week recess on Tuesday, the Senate President, during the plenary, first read Buhari’s letter to the legislature on the extension of his leave.
Saraki had received the letter during the recess. It was dated February 5, 2017, the last day of the President’s initial 10-day leave.
The letter read, “Further to my letter dated January 18, 2017, in which I notified the distinguished Senate of taking part of my annual leave.
“During my leave, I took the opportunity to have routine check-ups and consult my long-standing doctors in London.
“In the course of the routine examinations, certain test results indicated the need for a course of medications and further appointments have been scheduled for next week.
“I am, therefore, notifying the Distinguished Senate that I am extending my leave until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out. In the circumstances, the vice-president will continue to act on my behalf.”
After reading the letter, Saraki said, “Further to the correspondence from Mr. President, let me also use this opportunity to brief my colleagues on the visit. I led a delegation of myself, the Honourable Speaker and the Majority Leader to visit Mr. President, Buhari, on Wednesday, February 15, to convey the greetings and best wishes of the National Assembly and I am happy to report that we met the President in good spirits; in good health; chatty as usual; and conveys his best wishes and hopes to be back very soon.”