BY Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
Not too long ago, Nigeria’s rumour mills went overdrive when some persons started alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari is on life support and was fighting for his life. It was a recircling of the same old rumour that made the rounds when the president travelled earlier in the year for medical vacation.
Earlier this month, acting president Yemi Osinbajo embarked on a sudden trip to London to see the president. Because there was no pictures to back up the visit, the cynics and internet warriors , also called e-rats, started alleging that the acting president never went to London. An online medium went as far as saying Osinbajo spent only five minutes with the president because of the state he found Buhari in.
Specifically, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, accused Osinbajo of lying about the true state of the president’s health. He threatened to release some pictures of the president. More than three weeks after, Nigerians are still waiting for Fayose to release the pictures.
On Sunday, a picture of the president with some governors and chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi appeared in the public space. It was the first time Nigerians were seeing the picture of the president since he left the shores of the country on May 7.
Imo State governor and chairman of progressives governors’ forum, Rochas Okorocha, gave credibility to the photograph when said the president was very cheerful and has not lost any bit of his sense of humour when they met with him. The governor said the party delegation spent more than an hour with President Buhari over lunch, and it was very clear from the discussions that was following developments at home very closely.
Okorocha added that the president was delighted to receive the delegation and asked each governor about affairs in his state. He also asked the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, about the state of the railways.
Trust cynics and the wailing wailers ( to borrow a leaf Femi Adesina). They claimed the pictures were photoshopped. Former Aviation minister, Femi Fani- Kayode, said the pictures were taken during Ramadan, probably referring to last year’s Ramadan because this year’s Ramadan started on May 25 and President Buhari travelled on May 7.
It was conspiracy theory all the way as most Nigerians on the social media also questioned the authenticity of the pictures. Some Nigerians demanded for a video evidence and urged the president to speak to Nigerians via video conference. But even if the president does that, it will not assuage the kind of doubting Thomases we have in this country.
On Tuesday, State House correspondents had an interactive session with the media team of the presidency. Presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu and Laolu Akande, disclosed that another governors’ delegation were set to visit the president.
The governors were chosen from each geopolitical zone. The delegation was led by Zamfara State governor and chairman of Nigeria ‘s governors forum. Other members of the delegation are Kashim Shetima (Borno), Abdulahi Ganduje (Kano), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanue (Akwa-Ibom), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
On why President Buhari prefers visits by governors to speaking to the generality of Nigerians through a broadcast, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina said, “It is a question of what he prefers and this is what he prefers for now. He would rather receive that delegation and that is what is happening. If the president opts for address option he will do it”.
When asked why Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, who has been vocal on this issue is not on the delegation of those going to visit the president, Adesina said, “The selection was by the governors’ forum and you will see that the delegation is headed by Governor Yari who is chairman of that forum. So, that question should go to the forum.
From my sources at the Villa, there are indications that the president is coming back next week. Maybe my next week column will hinge on the triumphant entry of the president.
Also, the president, in a letter to the African Union chairman and president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, confirmed his return when he said, “Your Excellency will be pleased to hear that I am making good progress, and as soon as doctors advise, I shall return to my duties and continue serving the Nigerian people who elected me and are daily praying for my recovery.”