By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the chairman of the assemblies of heads of state and government of the African Union (AU) and president of Guinea, Alpha Conde, informing him that he will be returning to Nigeria soon to continue his duties as president.
A statement by the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, noted that Buhari also thanked Conde for the nationwide prayers held last week by Guineans for his recovery and good health. According to the presidential spokesman, the president’s message to the AU chairman is contained in a letter he personally wrote dated July 24, 2017, after he had earlier made a phone call to Conde.
Adesina quoted Buhari as saying in the letter: “I thank you for your kind and thoughtful action in organizing nationwide prayers for my good health. It is a gesture that I will forever cherish and treasure.
“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”.
He further noted that President Buhari had also accepted his nomination as leader of the ‘2018 AU Theme on the Fight Against Corruption’, which came from African leaders at the 29th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on July 4, 2017.
“While thanking you for the kind words and for the nomination, I wish to express my readiness to accept this new important role and to reiterate my commitment to contribute towards our collective efforts to strengthen good governance and development on the continent. I, therefore, look forward to working closely with you in the realization of this objective’, Adesina quoted the Nigerian president as writing to Conde.
Meanwhile, the presidency has explained why a seven-member delegation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) left the country yesterday night for London on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The delegation made up of some governors of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) being led by chairman of NGF and Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, is scheduled to meet with Buhari today.
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).
This is coming barely 72 hours after a delegation of APC governors led by Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and chairman of the party visited Buhari in London. Following the meeting with the president, Okoroccha who is chairman of the APC governors’ forum reported that Buhari was recovering fast and will soon be heading home.
Senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, told State House correspondents yesterday that the latest visit by the delegation of NGF is a “goodwill visit”.
Explaining that the visit is in line with African culture of care and concern for the sick, he said, “It is the culture of our people and we all do that. The delegation is being led by the governor of Zamfara State, who is the chairman of the governors’ forum. In the delegation are governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi; Kano, Umar Ganduje; Borno, Kassim Shettima; Benue, Samuel Ortom; Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel and Oyo, Abiola Ajumobi.
“They will leave by tonight and arrive the U.K. early and will have 3pm meeting tomorrow (Today). The visit is a goodwill visit and there is nothing more than that. I believe Nigerians in various positions have yearnedto go meet the president and at some point, this obviously has not been permitted.
“But given the change in circumstances, you can see that it is coming from London itself and from the president. It is welcoming, it is a goodwill visit. As a cultural people we visit people leaving the hospital and I am sure the president himself will be delighted to see people coming from the six geo-political zones to convey the goodwill of Nigerians”.
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 had been vocal on the issue was not on the delegation of those going to visit the president, Adesina said, “The selection was made 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”.
On why the president’s media team was not on the delegation, Shehu said it was to save cost.
“How about you thinking about it this way, that probably we will be saving money? Let me tell you, you know I have respects for photographers. We all do. Bayo Omoboriwo is on the flight which is more important than me being there. They say a picture conveys more than a thousand words. Bayo will be there and I think it will be more beneficial to Nigerians than if the special adviser was on that trip without a cameraman.
When reminded that those that went to see the president at the weekend are members of the governors’ forum and it is curiousn for this set of delegation to go again, he replied: “You will notice that those that went at the weekend are members of All Progressive Congress (APC). So, those who are going now are on a broader platform, which is the Nigerian Governors Forum. As to who is sponsoring, I don’t have any information on that”.
On questions bordering on the rationale behind the visit when the president is recuperating fast, Adesina said, “It should be the other way. Instead of being curious it should be the right time for the visit like Mallam Garba said earlier. When somebody has recovered or something or the other happened, it is in our culture for us to visit such a person.
“So, this is the right time because the news is that he is recovering and recovering well.
I’m sure you are aware of the letter he just wrote to the African Union chairman in which he told him that he is making very good progress. So, this is the proper time for him to receive delegations rather than when he was indisposed”.