Expectations of Nigeria that President Muhammadu Buhari would resume work in his office, 48 hours after he returned from a 104-day medical trip in London, was dashed, yesterday, as he distanced himself from his office.
But a top Presidency source told State House Correspondents that Buhari was “hale and hearty”, and only elected to work from home because his office was being renovated.
Bashir Ahmad, the president’s special assistant on new media, confirmed this on his twitter handle @BashirAhmaad, in reaction to speculations that the president was working from home as a result of ill health.
“Some renovations are ongoing at the office. His fully equipped office in his residence. He’ll be back to the main office after the works,” he twitted.
However, the president met behind closed door with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State in his residence.
He received briefings from Osinbajo on what had transpired while he was away on medical consultations with his doctors in London.
Earlier, Senior Special Assistant Legislative Matters (House of Representatives), Suleiman Kawo had at about 1:35pm emerged from the president’s residence with two letters meant for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives notifying the legislature of his return to office. Saraki who is current away in Europe confirmed receipt of the letter on his facebook page.
Wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, also took to her Twitter handle @aishambuhari and Facebook page to thank Nigerians for their prayers for her husband.
“As we welcome our dear President back home, I am grateful to Nigerians and well-wishers all over the world for their continuous prayers and support. May God continue to guide, protect and bless us all and our dear country Nigeria,” she wrote
More reactions from statesmen including former vice president Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu as well as organisations and political parties have continued to trail the president’s return and his nationwide broadcast in which he restated his commitment to the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity.
The Waziri Adamawa said Buhari’s return would end the needless conspiracy theories by some Nigerians.
In a statement issued by his Media Office, Abubakar said every well-meaning Nigerian should be happy with the recovery of the President because a healthy and stronger president would be able to concentrate more vigorously on the task of implementing his campaign promises to Nigerians.
“It would reduce the needless conspiracy theories surrounding his health and long absence,” h said.
He advised Nigerians to help the president succeed, “by focusing on issues that unite us rather than those that divide us, and thereby distracting the President from attending to the tasks at hand.”
He also warned politicians against the promotion of hate politics for selfish advantages, noting that, “a situation where Nigerians perceive one another as enemies rather than brothers who should be united by their common interests is unhealthy and inimical to our democracy.”
In his reaction, Dr. Kalu, former governor of Abia State, also commended Buhari for his reassuring speech to the nation in which he promised more decisive action to stem the tide of national drift.
In a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Peter Eze, Kalu, who also thanked God for the president’s recovery and return, lauded Buhari for his assurance that every Nigerian has right to live and do business in any part of the country they decide to reside in.
While promising to do his best to ensure that Buhari’s vision for a more peaceful and united Nigeria was realised, Kalu said the president deserved the support of every Nigerian to rebuild a nation fragmented by distrust and suspicion. He prayed for continued good health for him and also urged all youths to eschew violence and the call for separation.
“I thank God that President Buhari is back and in good health. He has recovered tremendously and I can see that Nigerians are happy for him and his family.
“We all have listened to his address and we saw the emphasis he has made on how to properly channel our grievances. He himself admits that there are genuine grievances and also points out the proper channels to seek redress.
“In my previous statement, I also emphasised the need to properly channel our misgivings using constitutionally approved means. That’s how to grow our democracy and build our country. Resort to violence and negative propaganda will not do us any good.
“So, while I commend Mr. President on his recovery and return to the country, I also urge all dissenting voices in our country to make use of available democratic institutions to seek redress. That’s how to show that we are matured and responsible.
“At least, we now know that President Buhari is not in support of any divisive group and no group, either in the north or the South, which has sought to create problems, has his support. I therefore, call on our youths to restrain themselves and help the President to build a better country for all of is,” Kalu stated.
The APC lauded Buhari for specifically reading the riot act to those clamouring for the break up of the country.
National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun who spoke in Abuja said he was equally impressed with the assurance that anybody could live and work in any part of the country.
According to him: “The speech was absolutely outstanding. You see, he is the president of this nation. He has been away for quite a bit of time. Agents of destabilisation have been very much at work because they thought his absence created a gap and a weakness within the polity, which they tried to exploit.
“So Mr. President in his wisdom discerned that the stability, unity, peace and security of this nation and the ordinary Nigerian are the key issues at this material time. He addressed them and went straight to the core of the issues. He left nobody in any doubt that any Nigerian is entitled as a matter of right to live, work and operate in any part of this country.”
Organised labour also hailed the broadcast, describing it as “truly presidential, “timely and reassuring on the unity and indissolubility of Nigeria as a Federal Republic.”
General Secretary of the National Union of Textile and Garment Workers of Nigeria, (NUTGWN), an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, called on all compatriots, “state or non-state alike” to rise and defend the Constitution against “forces of disunity, revisionism and sheer disintegration.”
He said Buhari had exhibited remarkable statesmanship by devoting his first appreciation speech to reminding Nigerians of the “obvious truism” that the motto of Nigeria as enshrined in the constitution is “unity and faith, peace and progress.”
Meanwhile, major streets in Enugu capital city were shut down for several hours as hundreds of members of the Buhari Support Group embarked on a peaceful rally to celebrate the return. The march took members of the group from the Buhari campaign office along Bisalla Road, through Presidential Road, Ogui and other major roads in the Coal City.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the rally, President of the Enugu chapter of the group, Chief Anike Nwoga implored Buhari to appeal to the National Assembly to immediately approve the $29.9 billion foreign loans and more to get Nigeria out of recession and back to work.
In his speech, Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu noted that those who wished the president dead, wanted members of the APC to suffer.
“That’s why I join the statement of our leaders here that we are praying to God to sustain President Buhari so that he can complete the solid foundation he is building for the country,” he noted.
At another mega rally in Ado-Ekiti, supporters and members of the APC led by the state Deputy Chairman, Mrs. Kemi Olaleye and Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun and other party leaders and members, almost shut down the capital city. Apart from chanting pr0Buhari sloagans, they also threw jibes at Governor Ayodele Fayose.
But the outspoken Fayose who is the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum, congratulated Buhari and reminded him that Nigerians were hungry not only for food but for development.
“APC should face governance squarely and give Nigerians democratic dividends,” Fayose who was in company with Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and the secretary of the PDP caretaker committee, Sen. Ben Obi, told journalists at Asaba Airport, enroute Anambra State for the party’s primaries ahead of the governorship election in that state.
However, a stalwart of the ruling party, Chief Sam Nkire said PDP was have gone into panic since the return of the president.
He said there was evidence that the leadership and members of the PDP have been forced to swallow their words about sacking the APC in the 2019 general elections and taking over government.
He said Buhari’s return would quicken the speed of the train taking Nigeria to the Promised Land, through radical changes in strategy and policy execution.
However, President and founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, is unimpressed and asked Buhari to resign as it was was medically unfit to continue in office.
“It is unfortunate that Nigerian lawyers are not giving proper advice on Buhari’s illness. They are not giving legal education to Nigerian people. They are not defending the constitution as it should be defended. They just allowed Nigerians to ponder with their legal illiteracy by keeping quiet’, he said. He also frowned at the attitude of Nigerian doctors for keeping quiet when they ought to speak on Buhari’s adding that he studied and lived in Britain for 13 years and he knows British doctors and their attitude.
To him, Buhari should be a patriot and resign as President of Nigeria adding that as a medical doctor who studied alongside those treating him in London, it was obvious that he is not fit to continue in office.