By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah, Abuja and ISAIAH BENJAMIN, Kaduna
To the relief of many Nigerians who may have been in the dark on the true state of things, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday stunned critics of his health condition when he made a surprise appearance in his office at Aso Rock where he treated files and received briefings from key members of his cabinet.
In the past few days, there had been calls by some individuals and interest groups for the president to resign and his seat declared vacant for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to be sworn in.
This followed reports last week that Buhari could not attend the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting because he asked that he should be allowed to rest and treat files from home henceforth.
The president’s absence from the last two FEC meetings had heightened fears over his health condition, especially when he was also conspicuously absent at last Friday’s Juma’at prayers at the Villa Mosque.
Yesterday in office, President Buhari received briefings from the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with the president, Baru said the president expressed delight over the reported stability in the oil and gas sector.
He noted that there was hope for improved crude oil production, following ongoing repairs of pipelines destroyed in the wake of disturbances in the Niger Delta region.
The GMD said the country’s crude oil production capacity currently hovers around 2 million barrels per day, adding that NNPC had no plan to increase the prices of its products as being speculated.
His words: “I briefed Mr President on the state of the NNPC and its subsidiaries and also nationally toget him briefed on the situation of fuel supply, crude oil productions, gas production and by extension, ability to supply gas to the power sector.
“We had an extensive briefing as you could see. I passed here over two hours and I spent quite some time with him to discuss these national issues.
“He (Buhari) was happy with the state of the corporation and told us to continue with the efforts that we are doing and if we needed any executive attention we should not hesitate to come back to him.
On his part, AGF Malami told reporters that he briefed the president on several issues, including the job done by the presidential electoral reforms committee which submitted its report to him (AGF) yesterday.
Malami noted that the president was worried about the slow pace of work on the proceeds of crime bill before the National Assembly.
According to him, the executive arm of government is looking forward to the expeditious passage of the proposed law, which he said was critical to the ongoing fight against corruption in the country
The AGF said, “It is a routine briefing of the president as it relates to general issues- issues that have to do with anti-corruption. Mr. President is worried that anti-corruption bills that are pending before the National Assembly overtime, there has not been any expeditious determination on the passage of the bills. And, indeed, the asset management agency was also part of the discussion.
“Mr. President is worried that the assets that have been gathered over time by the agencies of government and that are responsible for the fight against corruption are scattered all over the place, and embedded in the Proceeds of Crime Bill is Asset Management Agency which is the agency put in place by the presidency for the purpose of the management of the associated assets that are recovered.
“So, Mr. President is indeed worried and the discussions bothered on how best we can handle it. There are limited issues that relate to the parastatals under the Ministry of Justice. As you are aware, this afternoon, the Electoral Reform Committee that has been put in place submitted its report to my office”.
Malami added that he equally briefed President Buhari on some bills that have been presented for the consideration of the FEC as they relate to amendment to the electoral process.
“The whole essence of the meeting was to seek the view of Mr. President and the direction as to what to do next as it relates to the Electoral Reform Committee report that has been submitted and to consider routine processes under the Ministry of Justice”, He said.
‘PMB Has No Plans To Resign’
Meanwhile, the Presidency has refuted media reports suggesting that President Muhammadu Buhari was planning to resign on grounds of ill- health.
In the past few days, prominent Nigerians have been calling on the president to resign and tend to his health.
On Monday, constitutional lawyer and human rights activists, Chief Femi Falana (SAN) and 12 other rights activists called on President Buhari to proceed on medical vacation to attend to his ill-health.
But a top presidency official who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity said the president has no plans to resign, adding that Buhari can’t do that now when activities at the presidential villa has picked up this week in ernest.
He said, “As you can see, the president received briefings from the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation( NNPC) Maikanti Baru. The President is getting better and has no plans to resign.
“In fact the president will receive Niger President on Friday at the presidential villa. We don’t want to join issues with people calling on the president to resign”.
When LEADERSHIP contacted the special adviser on media and publicity to the president, Femi Adesina, to get his reaction on calls for the president to embark on medical vacation or resign, he simply said, “No comment”.
The presidency had last week assured Nigerians that despite insinuations by a number of media organisations, there was no need for apprehension over the health of President Buhari.
In a statement by the senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, Garba Shehu, the presidency noted that President Buhari’s absence at the FEC meeting of Wednesday, April 26, was a last minute decision; otherwise, the cabinet and the public might have been alerted in advance.
“As eager as he is to be up and about, the President’s doctors have advised on his taking things slowly, as he fully recovers from the long period of treatment in the United Kingdom some weeks ago”, Shehu stated.
My Husband ‘s Health Not As Bad As Perceived – Aisha Buhari
Meanwhile, wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has explained that her husband’s health was not as bad as being perceived in certain quarters.
In a series of tweets she posted on her twitter handle yesterday, Mrs Buhari argued that the president has continued to carry out his responsibilities.
Aisha tweeted: “I wish to inform everyone that his health is not as bad as it’s being perceived, meanwhile he continues to carry out his responsibilities 2/4 during this period.
“As it may come to your notice, he is meeting with Minister of Justice and GMD of NNPC this evening.
“Long Live Nigerians, Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
This is the first time Mrs Buhari is coming out publicly in defence of her husband on issues pertaining to his health.
ACF Cautions Against Careless, Unnecessary Remarks on PMB’s Health
Meanwhile, the apex Northern socio-cultural body, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), yesterday warned against unguarded remarks on the health of President Muhammadu Buhari.
ACF noted with dismay that it has observed with concern that some individuals were carelessly making unnecessary remarks pertaining to the health of the president.
It said rather than making unpalatable utterances on the health of the president, Nigerians should pray for him for quick recovery.
In a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, the forum said, “What Nigerians need to do now is to pray for his good health and not to speculate or draw conclusions which will do no one any good.
“ACF advises Nigerians to please pray for the improvement of Mr. President’s health so that he can serve the Nation with more vigour.
“On the speculated disorder and lack of cohesion between the National Assembly and the Presidency, ACF advises the National Assembly to think of Nigeria above all other considerations”.