President Muhammadu Buhari’s handlers today implemented a brief and carefully-controlled appearance for him in his office in the presidential villa as public concern about his health reached fever pitch nationwide.
Mr. Buhari has missed three consecutive Federal Executive Council meetings. Last Friday, he was also a no-show at the customary Juma’at Service at the Aso Rock mosque.
Yesterday, the founding chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Bisi Akande, issued a statement in which he asked Nigerians to pray for Buhari’s health, and warned that political manipulators were cashing in the situation with a plot to plunge Nigeria into political turmoil.
Insiders say the president’s handlers were alarmed by that press statement, which received considerable nationwide attention.
President Buhari reportedly arrived at his office today looking frail and low in energy to meet with the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, and Attorney General Abubakar Malami, but he did not speak with State House journalists. It was also unclear why those two officials were chosen, or what, if anything, he discussed with them. Mr. Baru told the BBC Hausa Service afterwards that he didn’t think Buhari’s shape was so poor as to warrant any public concern.
Malami, who spoke to State House correspondents, claimed that Buhari was back at his desk, but there were no photographs or videos to corroborate that claim.
SaharaReporters revealed on Sunday that President Buhari was having difficulty eating or drinking, a situation compounded by a debilitating intestinal disorder known as Crohn’s Disease, compounded by prostrate and age-related ailments.
We also reported that a cabal controlling President Buhari, reportedly led by his nephew, Mamman Daura, has insisted that he manage his health in Nigeria even if he doesn’t get better, so that they may retain their access to power. Its members are said to blame a second camp they believe to be sympathetic to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for creating the alarm in the last few days which has made Nigerians worry about President Buhari’s health.
Among other public expressions of concern, a 13-person group of prominent Nigerians, including political analyst Jibrin Ibrahim, lawyer Femi Falana, and the head of Transparency International Nigeria, Anwal Musa Rafsanjani, at the weekend sent a message advising President Buhari to embark on “medical leave” to take care of his health.
SaharaReporters has further learnt that Buhari’s wife Aisha and other family members favor a return to his doctors in the United Kingdom to continue his treatment and to allow him to recuperate fully. This is in opposition to Mr. Daura’s group which holds he should recuperate at home. They are reportedly hopeful that Buhari puts on weight and regains his energy to engage in some work as president while they manage things politically.
Our sources say the cabal’s position suffered a setback last Thursday when Buhari’s condition deteriorated and he was unable to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time. That was followed by the president missing the Juma’at prayer on Friday, as well as the wedding of his powerful assistant, Tunde Sabiu.
A source at the villa said Aisha is now in charge of her husband’s care, having taken over from his daughters, Halima and Zahra, in addition to his doctor and several medical personnel.
Asked if the president would be in attendance at the weekly cabinet meeting tomorrow, one presidency source said it was a possibility, noting that it has been the practice for him to appear at the meeting for about an hour, and then allow VP Yemi Osinbajo to continue with presiding over the meeting while he retires to the residence to continue his recuperation.
Since returning from a two-month medical trip on March 10, two attempts to return him to London have been aborted on account of the manipulations within the presidency. A new date has tentatively been set for May 10, one week away, our source said.