Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently receiving treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment, will return to Nigeria much sooner than expected, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed wednesday.
Osinbajo made this disclosure while answering questions from State House correspondents, a few hours after he returned to Abuja from London, where he had visited the president on Tuesday.
Buhari left the shores of Nigeria for London on May 7. Ever since, he has not been sighted in the public, fueling speculations that the president might be in bad shape.
The speculations were given fillip recently when the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, alleged that the president was critically ill and on life support in a London hospital.
However, Osinbajo, who said he had a meeting with Buhari for about an hour, said he had opted to visit the president just to see how he was faring and equally brief him on emerging developments in the country.
The acting president reported that his boss was in high spirits, recuperating well and was expected back in the country very soon.
Osinbajo, who said he could not delve deeply into the issues discussed, however, said issues bordering on the swearing-in of ministers-designate from Kogi and Gombe States were not discussed, but assured his audience that they would be sworn-in in no time.
The nominees were confirmed since April, days before Buhari left the country.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
You just returned from London where you had gone to see the president. What did you discuss with him?
Well, first, as you know, I went to see him. I went to check up on him, to find out how he was doing. I had of course been speaking with him on the phone and I thought it would be a good thing to go and see him and you know, generally check up on how he was doing and also to brief him on developments back at home. So, we had a very good time. We had a very good conversation on wide ranging issues and he is in very good spirits. He is recuperating very quickly and he is doing very well.
What is the state of Mr. President’s health?
Well, as I have said, he is in very high spirits. He is recuperating very well and we had a very long conversation. We spoke for well over an hour and his humour was all there. He is doing well and he is recuperating fast.
When is he expected to be back?
I think very, very shortly. Very shortly. I think we should really expect him back very shortly. Like I said, he is recuperating very fast and he is doing very, very well.
Was the report of the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General part of your conversation?
Wide ranging issues (were discussed). I really can’t go into the specifics of all of the discussions we had.
Was the swearing-in of the two ministers-designate part of the discussion?
No. We did not discuss swearing-in or anything like that.
When will they be sworn in?
Well, I’m not in a position to say anything. I don’t have a date in mind but I’m sure very, very soon, we will do that.
Are we expecting Mr. President back within 90 days?
No, no. Deadlines aren’t very good things but as I said, he is recuperating fast. We are expecting him very shortly. Much sooner than you will expect.
Tell the Truth, Fayose Tells Osinbajo
However, Fayose, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, has asked the acting president to be truthful about the president’s health, otherwise he (Fayose) might be forced to release 11 photographs depicting a bed-ridden Buhari.
Fayose said Osinbajo was not being truthful about the real health status of Buhari when he said that the ailing president was recuperating fast, threatening to release the 11 pictures of the president if the presidency fails to come clean on the issue.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the Ekiti State Government Lodge in Abuja, Fayose stressed that the claim of the acting president that Buhari was recuperating and will return to the country soon, was not true.
“I’m not going to prove that to Nigerians. It is him who said he saw the president that needs to prove it to Nigerians. I have made the allegation and I have said it expressly that we are in the age of technology.
“How do we have an acting president of a nation that has visited his boss that cannot show evidence of the meeting. The pictures they are posting on the social media are pictures taken long time ago. You will recall that I said this again on the Transcorp Hilton Hotel interview in 2015.
“We are talking about the president of about 170 million people. The acting president visiting the president that has left this country for about 60 days or more cannot show evidence of the meeting. It shows the president is in a critical condition,” he alleged.
Fayose was insistent that Buhari is critically sick, incapacitated and currently on life support.
He challenged Osinbajo to show Nigerians pictures and short videos of his meeting with Buhari in London on Tuesday, if indeed he was insisting that the president is fast recuperating.
He specifically described the visit of Osinbajo to London to see Buhari as nothing but diversionary.
According to Fayose, “We pray for his (Buhari’s) health and for him to come back in one piece. However, the claim of the acting president that Buhari is recuperating fast is not true. The president is incapacitated and sick. There is no iota of truth that the president is in good condition.
“The acting president’s statement saying that Buhari is okay is not true, it is far from the truth. President Buhari is very sick, critically sick. The president is critically ill.
“If they are not careful, I will release 11 pictures about the real health status of the president any moment from now,” he threatened.
Fayose further recalled that he warned Nigerians in 2015 before the elections about the precarious health of the president, noting with regret that his warning was ignored.
He stressed that whenever he asked about the health of the president, “they said you are asking too much”.
“But now, we have been able to establish that the president is on life support,” he added.
The governor repeated his call for Buhari to step aside and allow Nigeria to move on.
When asked if other governors had made efforts to visit the president in London, Fayose said that each time they had made attempts in that direction, they always met a brick wall.