- To address the nation 7am on Monday
- Greeted by torrents of goodwill messages from across Nigeria
Omololu Ogunmade, Damilola Oyedele, James Emejo, Onyebuchi Ezeigbo, Paul Obi, Kasim Sumaina and Udora Orizu in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari saturday received a heroâ€™s welcome when he returned to Nigeria from London 103 days after he left the country for medical treatment. He was received by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, governors, ministers and some presidential aides at the Presidential Lounge of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The presidential jet, Nigeria Air Force One, touched down at the airport at about 4.30 pm. The President disembarked at 4.48 pm and was received by the acting president and other government officials.
Governors who received the president at the airport were the NGF Chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari; Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum (NGF), Rochas Okorocha; Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar; Wivers State Governor Nyesom Wike; and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.
Others were Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique.
Also at the airport to receive him were the Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; his counterparts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, and Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan.
Other include Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu; Personal Assistant to Buhari on Digital/Online Media, Lauretta Onochie; Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters; Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and Senior Special Assistant to the President (Office of Vice President) on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, among others.
His wife, Aisha, who had gone to London to join him on August 6 for the third time, did not accompany him back, as sources said she would return to the country at a later date.
A rejuvenated Buhari, who skipped the inspection of guards of honour, shortly after the national anthem was rendered, walked into the Presidential Lounge before heading for his waiting car. OBuhari, who will address the nation at 7am on Monday, waved to the crowd who had come to welcome him, as he headed to his residence in the Presidential Villa.
At the Villa, he was joined by the acting president and the governors including Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, who was not at the airport.
Speaking with journalists at the residence of the president, Osinbajo said given the huge number of persons who crowded the road to welcome the president, it was quite clear that Nigerians were excited to have the president back in the country.
“As you can see from the many Nigerians who lined up on the road to receive the President as he came back, many Nigerians are happy that the President is hale and hearty and that he has come back.
“It was a natural reaction, most people heard of his arrival only a few hours before then, but as you can see, the response was so spontaneous. So, I think that people were so exited and very happy,” he stated.
In his own submission, Wike said he was happy like some other Nigerians that the president is alive, stating that it is unnecessary to play politics with the president’s health.
“We are happy that he is alive and that is why l am here today to rejoice with the family. We should not play politics with everything. We are here talking about health and irrespective of the party l belong to, you can see that I am here today to rejoice with the family. That is what it is supposed to be. Don’t play politics with health issues. Don’t do that. So, irrespective of what is going on out there, one is happy to be here,” Wike stated.
On his part, Bello said the recovery of the president was symbolic coming at the time the nation is also recovering from its economic crisis.
“The message to Nigerians is that the recovery and recuperation of the President is in some sense symbolic of the recovery of Nigeria. Nigeria is going to recover. We are on the path of strong economic recovery and this is an excellent sign that the country is on the right side. There is great hope. There is great excitement and we are going to make it as a nation,” Bello said.
In his own reaction to the president’s return, Adesina said it was not prompted by the recent protests led by Charles Oputa and Dele Adeyanju calling for his return or resignation. The protest spread to t New York and United Kindgom last week. Adesina said he knew about his return some days earlier.
“The return of the President has nothing to do with the protest. It is about continuing with the work he started. Some of us knew about his return some days back. Remember that the acting president held on effectively and they will continue the work together. We left the work of announcement with the managers of the acting President,” Adesina said.
Welcoming the President, Senate President Bukola Saraki, noted that the President will resume with greater vigour.
He reiterated the commitment of the Senate to continue to work with the Executive to improve the living standards of Nigeria and ensure overall national development.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, expressed appreciation to God, for the safe return and recovery of the President.
â€œI thank Almighty Allah for bringing President Muhammadu Buhari back whole, hale and hearty. I am thoroughly delighted that President Buhari has returned home after his medical vacation”, the Senate President said,
â€œI was privileged to have met him twice in London during the period of the vacation. After our first meeting, I told Nigerians there was no cause for alarm. After our recent lengthy meeting on Thursday this week, I informed Nigerians that Mr. President’s return home was imminent,”Saraki said.
“In all, we must thank Almighty God for sparing all our lives and granting Mr. President a most remarkable recovery. His return marks a new lease of life for this administration. I am confident that Mr. President will resume with even more vigour to pursue an economic agenda that will improve the welfare of all Nigerians.”
” On our part, the Senate is ready to work closely with the Executive and bend over backwards to support Mr. President. I congratulate all Nigerians on Mr. President’s return. We thank the Acting President for his hard work in holding fort and steering the ship of governing the nation during this period.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, expressed gratitude to Almighty God for granting the President healing and journey mercies back home.
Dogara, noted that the president’s recovery and safe return home attests to the healing power of God owing to the fervent prayers of Nigerians who prayed day and night for him.
He said: “It is now time for us all to continue to pray for the President for the perfection of the healing and divine rejuvenation to enable Mr. President steer the affairs of the Nation in the right direction.
“On our part, the House of Representatives, wish to assure Mr. President of our determination, support and commitment towards delivering on our promises to the Nigerian people as members of the same government. Mr. President can always count on our support in this regard. “
The All Progressives Congress (APC) said the return of President Muhammadu Buhari would no doubt signal increased efforts to fulfill promises made to Nigerians.
While welcoming Buhari back home after his medical vacation to the United Kingdom, APC assured that the administration was poised to fulfill all electoral promises .
In a statement issued on Saturday by the National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdulahi, the party expressed thanks to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for “his competent leadership in the absence of President Buhari and especially commends him for his effort to unite the country and drive the recovery of the national economy.
“The APC also thanked all Nigerians who had prayed ceaselessly for the speedy recovery and safe return of the President, and assured them that the APC-led Federal Government was poised to fulfill all the electoral promises the party made to Nigerians.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that it joined other Nigerians to welcome back the President and expressed the hope that he had recovered enough to stir the ship of state.
In a statement issued late Saturday evening by its National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, PDP said it believes that Buhari is healthier now to assume his responsibility at the helm of the country’s affairs.
“We thank the Almighty for saving his life and pray that He grants him better health and understanding on how to rescue our poor economy and relieve Nigerians from the current hardship,” it said.
APC national stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also expressed joy at the presidentâ€™s return.
In a statement by his Media Office, Asiwaju Tinubu, said the President had always been a man of moral fortitude, discipline, strength and dedication, adding that these attributes helped him battle medical challenges.
Tinubu said: â€œIt has been a heartening thing to see that our nation has matured to the point where governance continued in a meaningful, seamless manner during the president’s absence. This again was a sign of the harmony between President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
â€œOn this day, it is even more heartening to think of the things that can now be achieved with President Buhari back to lead the nation.
â€œToday is a glad and happy one for those who wish Nigeria well. While we celebrate the President’s return, we also must quickly turn to the hard and heavy work at hand.
â€œWith President Buhari back and with the nation united behind him, we can accomplish excellent things. May we do our best to become our best.
â€œThese same attributes will lead him to success in surmounting our national challenges.â€
President Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 after receiving 82 Chibok girls who were freed by Boko Haram, after three years in captivity. He left the country to receive treatment in London for an undisclosed ailment. He was not sighted in public until July 23, when a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by its National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, visited him.
Also in the APC delegation were the Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha; Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, his counterparts in Kaduna and Nasarawa States, Nasir el-Rufai and Umaru Tanko al-Makura, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The visit was compelled by an earlier allegation by the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, that Buhari had been incapacitated and was on life support in a London hospital. The inability of anyone to sight Buhari in the public further fuelled the allegation and it took the visit to dismiss it.
But the visit did not totally dismiss the allegation as some cynics including a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, claimed that the visit was a mere fabrication of the ruling party. Fani-Kayode claimed that the photograph of the visit as circulated online was taken in Nigeria and was only intended to mislead the public and douse tension.
The insinuation propelled the necessity for another visit by members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) supported by the Presidency on July 26. In order to disabuse the minds of every citizen that the earlier visit was untrue and that the president was indeed not incapacitated as claimed by Fayose and Fani-Kayode, two governors on the platform of the opposition PDP were part of the trip. They were Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom).
The delegation was led by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari. Also in the delegation were Umar Ganduje (Kano), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
The visit of NGF delegation was followed by that of his media team and some other aides led by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on July 11.
Also in the media team were Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina; Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu; Personal Assistant to Buhari on Digital/Online Media, Lauretta Onochie, and Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Matters.
Again, on Thursday, August 17, seven days later, Buhari was visited by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Finally, on August 18, Buhari was visited by the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, 24 hours before his return to Nigeria.
Prior to his return, protest marches were staged in Abuja by both pro and anti Buhari elements. On August 7, a group of protesters led by rights activist, Dele Adeyanju, and maverick entertainer, Charles Oputa, caused a stir in Abuja as they insisted on Buhari’s return or resignation on moral grounds.
The protesters anchored their agitation on the theme expressed in pidgin English, “Our Mumu Don Do,” which being translated means “we have been foolish enough.” On August 10, a solidarity march in support of the President by the Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative was held in Abuja.
The â€œOur Mumu Don Doâ€ protest almost turned violent when organisers attempted to stage another one at the popular Wuse Market in Abuja. They were chased away by stone-throwing youths.
On August 17, protesters also converged on Nigeria House in New York, with “Our Mumu Don Do” placards calling on Buhari to either return home or resign.
Also on August 18, protesters kept a vigil in front of Abuja House in London, where Buhari was residing, brandishing “Return Home or Resume” placards.