In a bid to downplay expectations, the presidency has said Nigerians should not expect President Muhammadu Buhari to resume work in a “dramatic way”, after spending 50 days in London, the British capital, for undisclosed health-related reasons.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media, Mr. Garba Shehu, stated this during an interview on Sunday in Abuja on THISDAY’s sister broadcast company, Arise News Network.
He explained that what the president needs is a careful and slow resumption of duty.
Buhari’s return on Friday and his subsequent directive that the acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, should continue in an acting capacity while he rested over the weekend led to further speculations and uncertainty among Nigerians over Buhari’s health.
Garba, however, dispelled the speculations, stating that the responsibility lies with the president once he notifies the National Assembly of his return.
“Let me first of all caution that he (Buhari) is not going to start in a dramatic way. He has been away from the country for nearly two months, so he needs to get into the temperature of the place.
“For instance, yesterday (Saturday), he went through the newspapers page by page, and he read everything that interested him.
“So he needs to get back to that place. The thing is that he’s basically human like all of us. He is coming out of an ailment and like he himself had said, he needs to start gradually.
“Don’t expect the president to be given neck-breaking schedules or punishing schedules like from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., or sometimes to 1a.m. to 2 a.m.,” Garba submitted.
Asked whether Buhari would be fully in charge once he resumes, the presidential aide said: “The responsibility is his; that is the position of the constitution.
“The moment the letter goes to the National Assembly and he says I am back, he is back.
“This is not a president, by his style of leadership, whose hands dictate every detail.
People make the observation that perhaps ministers under this government are the most powerful ministers we have had in this Republic.“He doesn’t call each month to say that a contract should go to Mr. A, B or C, or that road should be channeled through this or that.”
Garba further elaborated on the role of the vice-president, adding that “even before the president’s departure, the vice-president had a full plate”.
“He has again, on record, been one of the busiest vice-presidents in our country; the president has delegated so much to him,” Shehu explained.
On when Buhari would return to London for further medical treatment, Garba said though the actual date remained uncertain, the decision would solely “be determined by him (Buhari) and his own doctors”.
“But he has given notice that he will need to go back and that is normal,” he added.
On the atmosphere in the Presidential Villa since Buhari’s return, Shehu told Arise News that everyone felt a sense of relief after his return, saying he was “looking good”.
“For us here, it’s a vindication of the position that he had not died like some people had said. Our colleagues who were with him there – the pressure on them – everybody wanted to see the president, rulers, traditional rulers, chiefs, ministers, governors, everyone wanted to go to London and see the president and the denial of that access, which was on the advice of doctors, placed them under considerable pressure.”
Speaking on the propaganda and half-truths on the president’s illness, Garba said: “You don’t say what you don’t know, that is one.
“Two, matters of medical disclosure are extremely private. In the course of the process, Femi Adesina got a long note from the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, describing what disclosure would mean in medical science.”
He added that it was up to the patient to disclose what his ailment is, as even the doctor cannot disclose it to anyone.
“Let me confirm to you that the president had no knowledge of the ailment even before he left. He just went for a medical check up,” Shehu stated.