With the ongoing #IstandWithNigeria Peace-walk taking place today, Nigerians here in the UK have staged a demonstration outside the high commission in London demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari appear in person and address them after recent reports that he has extended his stay in the country indefinitely.
Yesterday, President Buhari was due to return to Nigeria after a 10-day medical vacation in the UK and it was initially reported that he had arrived in Abuja. However, in what appears to be a sudden U-turn, the presidency issued a statement saying that he has decided to remain in London to await the results of medical tests.
President Buhari has subsequently written to the National Assembly asking it to extend his stay further, pointing out that vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo will remain acting president for the time being. It is uncertain how long President Buhari will remain in London for and Nigerians in the UK are demanding answers.
One of the president’s associates said: “The president is sick but it will not be correct to say he is terminally ill. Illness has more to do with terminal disease and the president is only under the weather, he is not terminally ill.”
Yesterday, government officials were put on the alert pending the confirmation from the Protocol Unit in the presidency on the time the president would arrive. Also, the National Youth Council of Nigeria had mobilised 15,000 youths across the country to receive President Buhari at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
However, yesterday afternoon, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina issued a statement saying President Buhari had extended his leave to complete a series of tests recommended by his doctors and get the results. He added that the president had already dispatched a letter to the National Assembly on the extension but did not specify the duration of the extension.
A spokesman in the office of the senate president added : “I’ve been able to confirm that the letter had been transmitted to the senate. Senate president Bukola Saraki has been informed about it but he has not collected it, maybe because he is currently out of town.”
Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, the leader of the House of Representatives, said that there was no need to reconvene the House for the purpose of considering President Buhari’s letter. He explained that the president had already done the most important thing to avoid a vacuum and to ensure that there was no crisis.