President Muhammadu Buhari who returned to the country yesterday is expected to resume presidential duties on Monday, after transmitting a letter to the Senate, notifying it of his intention to take back power. This is coming Fifty-one days after Buhari left the shores of the country supposedly on vacation. He arrived Nigeria through Kaduna Airport.
The President was flown to Abuja in a helicopter where he was received by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, governors, service chiefs and full members of his cabinet after which he read a thank you speech to the audience before retiring to spend quality time with his family after being away for over seven weeks.
On arrival in Abuja, Buhari personally confirmed that he had been ill all the while contrary to weeks of denial about his ill health.
He declared: “I have rested as much as humanly possible. I have received, I think the best of treatment l could receive. I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including in 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 in touch with technology.
“I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion. I couldn’t recall, honestly, I can say in my 70 years. I couldn’t remember this drug that Nigerians take so much; very common I think one of our terrible things is self-drug administration. We have to trust our doctors more. In the place I visited, they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow everything.”
Buhari praised Yemi Osinbajo for holding forte for him and charged him to sustain the job he has been doing while he is resting.
However, his media aide, Femi Adesina, swiftly clarified his principal’s comment on his twitter handle @FemAdesina that the president’s comment did not imply that he was not yet ready to resume, disclosing that the president will transmit a letter of resumption to the National Assembly on Monday to formally end the period of his vacation.
To underscore the president’s decision to rest more, he did not come out for Jumat prayers in Villa Mosque yesterday.
Buhari who flew into Kaduna from London as a result of the closure of Abuja Airport at 7.47 am yesterday was conveyed to the Presidential Villa by a chopper at about 8.40 am and was received by government functionaries and service chiefs.
He thanked Nigerians who prayed for his sound health irrespective of religious affiliation, describing it as a demonstration of their continued support for the government despite the prevalent economic hardship in the land.
According to him, the only way to show appreciation for such goodwill shown towards him by Nigerians was to rededicate himself to serving and protecting their interest.
Buhari said he was pleased that Osinbajo enjoyed the period of his (Buhari) vacation through the delivery of services to the nation, submitting that his return notwithstanding, the acting president still has much more to do.
The president who said age and intellect were still at the disposal of the acting president, encouraged him to sustain the work he was doing when he was away, his return notwithstanding, explaining that he had deliberately returned in a weekend so that he could continue to rest.
“Having said that, I am pleased that I am back. 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 and my single most important advice is: take education of everybody under your responsibility very seriously, your children, our relatives, our constituencies, education, education, education. We must do more on education. I deliberately came back towards the weekend so that the Vice President will continue and I will continue to rest,” the president said.
Buhari said he was conscious of funds and advised government officials to ensure they do everything at their disposal to cut costs adding that he had rested as much as any man could do, received the best treatment so far and felt much better even though he would have to do some follow-up on his treatment in the next few weeks.
He appealed to Nigerians to avoid sending delegations to Abuja to welcome him but instead pray for the peace, progress and unity of the country. He also said he had two issues to disclose – the first for the nation’s consumption through the press while the second would be a private discussion between him and the vice president.
“I am deeply grateful to all Nigerian Muslims and Christians alike who have prayed and continued to pray for my good health. This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the government in its efforts to tackle our country’s challenges.
“The best way for me to pay you all is to rededicate myself to serving you by protecting your interest and keeping your trust. I thank you very much. I feel much better now. I will need to do further follow-ups within some weeks. Rather than sending delegations to Abuja to welcome me, may I appeal to our people to continue to pray for the country’s unity, progress and prosperity. I thank you very much and may God bless our country.
Whatever the case, I am very grateful that Nigerians are appreciative of what all of us are doing as a group. I am very pleased with them.
Responding, Osinbajo who welcomed the president back on behalf of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) said the moment he held forte for the president was quite interesting as he thanked him for the confidence he placed in him during the period.
He also hailed the president for demonstrating his belief in the laws of the land through adherence to constitutional provisions by handing over power, saying both himself and the entire nation were grateful to him.
He also told the president that he had a challenging experience touring different parts of the country.
“Mr. President, again on behalf of FEC, we welcome you back home. We are very grateful to God that you are back home hale and hearty. Mr. president, I must say that personally, this has been a very interesting few days for me. First, I must say that I want to thank you very much for the confidence reposed in me by handing over the realm of government to me in the capacity of acting president.
“I think more importantly is that you demonstrated the belief in our system which is even more important than anything else. The constitution which we all swore to is important because it outlines the code of conduct. I want to say not only am I, but I am sure the entire nation is grateful to you, he said”.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, who spoke on behalf of service chiefs and the nation’s armed forces, thanked Nigerians and God for bringing the president back to the country.
He assured that the armed forces would ensure that the president’s desires on the nation’s security were achieved as he expressed the military’s appreciation to the president for his support.
But on February 5, the Presidency announced the extension of his vacation indefinitely, saying the president wanted to receive the results of various medical tests conducted on him and be certified okay by his doctors before leaving London.
Since then, the rumors mill had been cranking up over the president’s state of health.
The PDP National Caretaker Committee led by Ahmed Makarfi, has urged President Buhari to take urgent steps to reduce political tension and bring all Nigerians together.
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the ruling party and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed joy and relief at the return of Buhari.
The APC also said that it believed that Buhari is now well rested and has returned with new vigour and optimism to fix the challenges “facing our people and fulfil the promises our party made to Nigerians during the 2015 elections.”
The party assured that the government was fully committed to the party’ manifesto of Change, “couched on true transformation in every area of national life.”
In welcoming the president back to Nigeria, Ariku urged all to join hands to ensure unity in the country.