President Buhari receiveing Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate Leader Senator Ahmed Lawan on Wednesday in London
• ‘President can’t be hijacked for interview’
• Silence continues at Abuja House in London
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that results of medical tests showed he needed more time to rest, a development which has necessitated his stay in the United Kingdom (UK) longer than originally planned.
Buhari who said “there is no cause for worry” in a statement yesterday, expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their “show of love and concern.”
The presidency’s failure to say when Buhari would return to the country has continued to fuel rumours and agitations with many Nigerians demanding a regular bulletin on the president’s health status.
According to the statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the president thanked millions of Nigerians who have been sending good wishes and praying for his health and wellbeing in mosques and churches throughout the country.
Buhari left the country since January 19, 2017 on a medical vacation to the United Kingdom. But there has been no definite answer from the presidency regarding the exact date of his expected return to the country after the expiration of the initial 10 days he sought to stay away.
Adesina had, in a statement on the expiration of the 10 days, confirmed that the president would be extending his stay in the U.K. to “complete the test circle before returning.”
President Buhari was expected to resume from his vacation on Monday, February 6, 2017 but he wrote to the National Assembly informing it of his desire to extend his leave in order to receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.
Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday said that the treatment meted out to a journalist of The Guardian in his bid to interview Buhari in the U.K. could not be considered as harassment.
Adesina, who played down the report while fielding questions from the State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday, declared that any where in the world, “presidents are not hijacked and interviewed.”
The Guardian’s reporter had made several attempts to see President Buhari at the Abuja House, the official residence of the Nigerian High commissioner to the U.K., but met a brick wall as London police operatives were invited to arrest him.
Adesina insisted yesterday that interviewing the president should be on schedule and not by a hijack. “I do not consider that as harassment. Presidents are not hijacked and interviewed. Those things are scheduled. So I do not consider that as harassment,” he said.
The media aide, who urged Nigerians to learn how to believe their leaders, said he was not speaking for himself. “I speak for somebody, I do not speak for myself. So it is what he tells me to say that I say and the statement transmitted to me is that the president needs to rest for some further time,” he said.
On what is wrong with the president, he said: “Don’t you know that the Hippocratic Oath even forbids a doctor from speaking about the condition of his patient except the patient authorises it? It is only the patient himself who can speak about what he is going through.
“This is the person going through this series of tests and rest and he says no cause to worry, let us believe that. He is the one who owns the body and there is nobody who will know his body more than him,” he stated.
On reports that Buhari may remain in the U.K. for months, Adesina said: “What we have just said is what I will want us to believe. The president said he needed to rest further. The same president that communicated that to us, when it is time for him to come, he will also communicate to us.
“It makes sense to say that maybe from the results of the tests, further rest has been recommended. The statement did not say how long the rest will last.”
The presidential spokesman debunked a rumour that Buhari has lost his voice.
His words: “Those people need to prove it. He spoke with President Trump. Did Trump say he did not speak with Nigerian President? Anybody can allege anything.”
He said President Buhari wants Nigerians to know that he appreciates their prayers, he concerns and goodwill.
On his message to Nigerians, Adesina said: “My message is that let us learn to believe our leaders. This is a man we elected into office and he says no cause to worry, let us believe him.”
The silence over Buhari continued on Monday evening as staff at the Abuja House, London barked out orders at The Guardian reporter, asking him to “leave that place” when they saw him in front of the Kensington residence for the second consecutive day.
The drama began around 5:31p.m. as soon as the two male occupants of one of the official vehicles at the house arrived. On being dropped off inside the house, both conferred with each other briefly in front of the main entrance, with their back to the gate, where the reporter was stationed.
When they turned round and stared at him annoyingly, the reporter motioned to them, “excuse me sirs, l am a reporter from The Guardian, I have come to interview the president.” The taller of the two shouted, “leave that place, I said leave that place.” Both of them moved towards the gate and when the reporter repeated the same words, the other man looked at the reporter and used his hand to indicate that perhaps something was wrong with the journalist mentally, before both of them went through the side door. None came out till The Guardian left at 6:45p.m.
Before the duo arrived, the reporter introduced himself to another insider as he walked across the premises. The smartly dressed man also asked The Guardian to “go away.” In the conversation that lasted about three minutes, he asked: “Why are you doing this?’’ When told it was simply to get the president to speak directly to Nigerians, he walked away.