Buhari ‘still resting’, fails to attend FEC meeting again
• Senate moves against Lawal’s return, submits report
With no official correspondence, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday again stayed away from the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The gathering, already missed thrice in a roll by the President since his return from a medical vacation in the United Kingdom, was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The latest absence, coming barely 24 hours after the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, allayed fears over her husband’s health and reports that the president had resumed at his desk is raising anxiety in the land and deepening the speculation that the president is being shielded from the public by close aides otherwise described as the cabal in the presidency.
At the last week’s meeting, the president had sought the permission of the council to observe more rest, even as he informed that he would be performing his official duties from home.
In a tweet message on Tuesday, Mrs. Buhari had insinuated that her husband’s health issue was being bandied with malice. According to her, the situation is not as critical as put in the public domain.
She had said: “I wish to inform everyone that his health is not as bad as it is being perceived. Meanwhile, he continues to carry out his responsibilities.”
On her twitter handle, @aishambuhari, the First Lady added that the president would continue to perform his duties to move the economy forward.
However, the Federal Government has maintained that Buhari is still resting based on the advice of his doctors.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents after the FEC meeting, denied insinuations that the president was allegedly being fed via an intravenous arrangement. He dismissed the claim as “absolute bunkum.”
His words: “It is absolutely untrue that he is being fed. He was in the office yesterday (Tuesday) as you all reported. And if the doctors say he should take a rest, I think you will recover faster when you rest when you ought to rest, rather than by forcing yourself to work when you are not fit to work.”
Mohammed continued: “All he is doing is that he is following doctors’ advice. Mr. President himself told the nation he has never been this sick and he is going to take it easy. He said it from day one when he came back from the UK.
“So, whatever is happening today is not any strange development, is exactly what he said. That he has been advised to take it easy by his doctors and that he will soon go back for further treatment.
“I do not think there is anything that is out of place. He has been quite transparent in the matter concerning his health.”
An online medium had reported that Buhari, besides being “fed”, was also suffering from a medical condition known as ‘Crohn’s disease’ that usually affects digestive system.
Also yesterday, the Senate adopted and transmitted the report of the Shehu Sani-led Adhoc Committee on the Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East to President Buhari.
The panel had indicted the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, for alleged financial abuse in the handling of projects and contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE). A company, he had an interest, reportedly secured a grass-cutting contract in breach of due process.
The Guardian learnt the move may be to check underground moves by some powerful political elements within and outside government to return the embattled scribe to his office.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly said the decision followed a request by some members who alleged that serious political meetings were still being held at the Abuja residence of the suspended official to save him.
A lawmaker hinted: “We are aware of sinister moves by a cabal of politicians desperately moving to get Lawal reinstated. You will be surprised that just recently, a governor led a delegation of politicians to Abuja where strategies for returning him were discussed.”
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in a statement confirmed the existence of pressure to protect the axed SGF.