Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, yesterday in Enugu joined in the controversy trailing the whereabouts of President Muhammadu Buhari as he insisted that the president was not in any hospital in the United Kingdom but “is relaxing in the Nigeria House” in London.
He, however, disclosed that he has not had direct communication with the president since he left the country about two weeks ago for vacation in the UK.
Speaking with journalists shortly after taking part in the ongoing re-registration exercise of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his Eke ward in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, the minister noted that the hullabaloo over the president’s vacation was not necessary, adding that since assumption of office, the president had “probably rested for only three weeks.
“The president is in London, at the nation’s official residence in London, not in any hospital. He is in the Nigeria House. And, I know very well that he will be back as soon as possible. In my opinion, we don’t need to make out anything from that. When you think of the pace upon which he’s been working, not too long ago, people were saying he was travelling too much, he was not travelling on holiday, he’s been working, and it has taken a huge toll on him. After about 18 months he’s probably not had more than three weeks rest time, that’s not much in 18 months
“As the minister, I spoke to him before I went to the AU summit, we were together actually not too long ago, in Mali, Bamako in the mid-January, when we came back and I had to go to Addis Ababa, while he went to London. We spoke before he travelled.
“But since he went on vacation, I have not had direct communication with him and the reason why is because I have not had any reason to have direct communication. I could have if I wanted but, the way I see it is that he went there to rest and we have to oblige him that,” he said.
The minister also used the opportunity to disclose that efforts were in top gear to repatriate about $300 million found in some accounts in the United States allegedly taken away from government coffers by some people that held high profile positions in government in the country in time past.
He said monies were also found in some other secret accounts in Switzerland and the United Kingdom, disclosing that but for bureaucratic bottlenecks, the monies would have long been repatriated.
“Very soon they will be released. We have money in US, UK, Switzerland, we are making headway in the golf countries, in the US, we have about 300 million dollars or even more. The court there refused some people who wanted to lay claim to that, so we are ready to get it back, sometimes there are lots of bureaucracies in these countries, but we are working had to get it back,” he said.
On the party’s registration exercise, the minister expressed optimism that the response from the state had shown that the people of Enugu state have resolved to embrace the APC.
“The registration portends very well, very well known figures are moving to APC, we already registered 900 persons here, the messages we are getting, no doubt, things are difficult but the people are seeing that the government is determined to bring meaningful change. This is a government that is people centred, not about self-enrichment, its about investing in the people, investing in infrastructure. This is a progressive party, people are beginning to embrace the narrative, the party is bringing about a peaceful revolution in the country where the masses will become the bosses and the government officials are there to work for the masses,” he said.
He said the nation’s image before the international community had greatly improved because of the personality of the president, adding that so many developed nations were now ready to do business with Nigeria.