Buhari extends vacation to complete medical tests

• President writes National Assembly
• Shehu Sani urges govt to allow protest

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly informing it of his desire to extend his vacation in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

However, President Buhari was not categorical when he would return to the country. The president had planned to return to Abuja yesterday evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning, a terse statement issued by the presidency stated yesterday.

The situation could negatively affect the credibility of the Buhari’s administration as regards information management as his media aides had earlier told the nation that the president was not sick but had only gone to the UK on vacation. But in seeking an extension of his vacation, the president now refers to advice by his doctors.

According to the statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the notice has since been dispatched to Senate President Bukola Saraki, and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Buhari expressed his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes.

A source in the Senate confirmed yesterday that Buhari had actually informed the upper chamber of his desire to extend his leave.
“What I do know is that although the Senate is not in session at the moment to allow the Senate president read any letter from President Buhari, there is the confirmation that Saraki has been informed of the existence of the letter from the presidency. What I do not know is whether or not he has physically received the letter. It is now certain that there is a letter coming to the Senate and Saraki is aware already,” the source said.

The constitution makes it mandatory for the president to inform the National Assembly anytime he is going to be absent and unable to perform his official functions to allow the vice president perform the duties of the president for the period that the president would be off duty.

A lawmaker said that there would have been a serious confusion should the president fail to inform the Senate of his inability to resume today as he had earlier stated in his first letter.

The president had written to the Senate that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would act on his behalf as president for the 10 days that he would be on medical vacation.

In the letter addressed to Saraki, President Buhari said he was writing in line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. According to the letter which was read on the floor of the Senate at plenary by Saraki, President Buhari said he would be away from Monday 23rd January to Monday 6th February.

“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away on a short medical vacation from Monday January, 23 to February 6th, 2017 and while I am away, the Vice President (Osinbajo) will perform the functions of my office.
“Please, accept, as always assurances of my highest esteemed consideration.”

However, since Buhari left the shores of Nigeria penultimate Thursday for the United Kingdom (UK) on the 10-day medical vacation, the country, indeed the media, have been inundated with the rumour of his death in a London hospital with his media aides, Adesina and Garba Shehu, battling with the task of debunking the many news items that have been shared by hundreds of Nigerians .

But regardless of facts, the story has caught citizens’ imagination online and several days after, has been republished by dozens of outlets in the country and beyond.

While some, for whatever reason, have celebrated the rumoured death, others have condemned such people for rejoicing over the rumoured demise of the president.

Meanwhile, human rights activist and Senator representing Kaduna Central District, Shehu Sani has called on security agencies in the
country not to stop the renowned musician, Tuface Idibia who planned to lead a protest against poor economic policies of the Federal Government, saying peaceful protest is a fundamental right of every Nigerian.

According to him, protest against any government policy by Nigerians should be seen as “oil to lubricate democracy and good governance”, rather for any government to use it in clamping down on the voices of the citizens.

Sani, who spoke yesterday in Kaduna after receiving members of the National Association of the Nigeria Nurses and Midwives in Federal Health Institutions in the country who paid him a courtesy visit, advised security agents not to prevent any aggrieved Nigerian
access to peaceful protest.

“First of all, protest is a fundamental rights in a democracy. In fact, citizens should be encouraged to organise and execute peaceful protest. It is a democratic channel people can express their strong opinions against policies and programmes or an action taken by
government. A society must encourage the culture of peaceful protest. It is by so doing that you can discourage them from taking the option of violence.

“Tuface has a fundamental right to organise a peace protest. What we should not forget is the very fact that we came into power with popular mandate backed by a strong culture of protest and criticisms against the establishment and the system.

“For us to oppose any peaceful protest now simply contradicts all that we have represented and advocated. Before we came into power, we organised protest against the previous administration.”

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