• IBB also speaks to the president, photos of Tinubu, Akande’s London visit released
• Fayose wishes him quick recovery, CAN demands full updates
Tobi Soniyi, Omololu Ogunmade, Senator Iroegbu, Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and Victor Ogunje in Ekiti
The efforts to douse concerns over the health of President Muhammadu Buhari was taken up a notch yesterday by the leadership of the National Assembly, as they all fell over themselves to relay their phone conversations with the president.
The presidency also remained unrelenting in its efforts to convince Nigerians that all was well with Buhari, when it posted two photographs on the president’s official twitter handle of the National Leader of the APC, Chief Bola Tinubu, and the former National Chairman of the ruling party, Chief Bisi Akande, visiting the president in London.
The president, according to a presidency source, was also believed to have spoken on the phone to former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Buhari, on the advise of his doctors, has been on an extended vacation in the United Kingdom, fuelling speculations about the status of his health.
Joining the bandwagon yesterday, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara eagerly sent out tweets to inform the public of their phone conversations with Buhari.
Saraki, in a tweet at 11.35 p.m. Wednesday night, said he spoke with the president on the phone and he was not only in good spirits, but also cracked a joke about his (Saraki’s) penchant for working very late into the night.
Saraki added that he was happy to have communicated with the president.
The tweet said: “Happy to have spoken with @NGRPresident @MBuhari tonight. He was in good spirits and joked about my working late into the night, as usual. – @Bukolasaraki on twitter Wednesday 8th of February 2017, 11.35 p.m.”
Dogara also said he held a phone conversation with the president on Wednesday night.
In a series of tweets he said: “@MBuhari called me yesterday evening. He talked about what the executive, legislature must do to ensure food security for all Nigerians.
“He said he was pained by the suffering endured by most Nigerians last year and he is resolved not to let the events of 2016 repeat themselves.
“He also asked me to extend his best wishes to all Hon. Members.”
Dogara’s spokesman, Mr. Turaki Hassan, in a statement, said the president called the speaker at about 9.20 p.m. Wednesday night and “they spoke for about five minutes”.
But just as Nigerians were trying to take in the tweets from Saraki and Dogara, two proof of life photos of the president hosting Tinubu and Akande in London were released by the presidency on Buhari’s official Twitter handle @NGRPresident.
In one of the pictures, Buhari sat beside Tinubu on a sofa while Akande sat on a separate sofa to the president’s left.
The picture was captioned, “President @MBuhari receiving party leaders, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, in Abuja House London.”
The second picture illustrated with the sentence, “Visit over, President @MBuhari sees off his guests, Abuja House London, this afternoon,” showed Buhari seeing off his two guests.
The president and his guests were smiling as if one of them had just shared a joke.
The photographs were meant to lay to rest speculations over the president’s health.
Yet, the cynicism over his health continued to rear its head, when the Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose wished Buhari well and a “quick recovery”.
Fayose, one of the most virulent critics of the administration, asked Nigerians to pray for the president to get well soon, so that he can return on time and resume work.
Speaking with reporters at the Government House, Ado-Ekiti yesterday while hosting the General Overseer of Champions Glory Assembly
Church, Pastor Joshua Lasisi, Fayose said: “I want to equally join Nigerians to pray for the president and ask God to give him good health.”
He also advised the presidency to ensure it gives accurate information on the health of the president so as to stop the spread of nasty rumours.
“The best thing we should all realise is that the presidency owes Nigerians accurate information about the situation of things.
“Otherwise people would continue to spread one rumour or the other.
Nigerians demanding for truthful and accurate information about the president’s health from the presidency are right because the moment you assume such a position, your life has become public.
“So, we should let Nigerians have the accurate information about the whereabouts of Mr. President. At the same time, Nigerians too should be praying for the president. Nobody has control over health challenges.
“The only thing they are doing wrongly is hiding the facts from Nigerians,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on the presidency to update Nigerians on how Buhari is fairing and the full progress of his recovery.
In a statement issued yesterday by the association’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Mr. Kwamkur Samuel, CAN also expressed deep concern over the “ongoing national conversation on the absence of the president due to ill health”.
“We wish to call on all Nigerians to join hands in prayers for the quick and full recovery of Mr. President and his safe return to Nigeria instead of dwelling on the needless rumour mongering on the president’s health.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is human, hence subject to health challenges sometimes.
“CAN appreciates the anxiety of Nigerians to hear Mr. President speak, but sues for understanding as we await that. It is very clear that our leader is passing through health challenges.
“We advise the presidency to update Nigerians on how he is fairing and the full progress of his recovery,” CAN said.
It called on all Christians and God-fearing Nigerians to dedicate time to pray for the president and the nation.
“We owe our leaders prayers and support at all times while shunning divisive opinions that only generate strife.”
It also asked Nigerians to give the vice-president who is also the acting president, full support and prayers to lead well.
“We acknowledge that government is a continuum, hence, we call on acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to be bold in handling critical state matters and not to be distracted by those who do not wish Nigeria well,” it said.