• President writes NASS, holds closed door meeting with Osinbajo
• Saraki, Dogara acknowledge receipt of Buhari’s resumption letter
• APC, PDP, Atiku, lawyers, differ over president’s broadcast
••• President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday officially wrote to the National Assembly to announce his return from the medical vacation in London and immediate resumption of work.
This is even as the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, have acknowledged the receipt of the communication from Buhari, notifying the National Assembly of his resumption to duty.
But mixed reactions are now trailing the President’s resumption and his broadcast to the nation, which lasted for five minutes.
While some hailed the president’s resumption as well as the broadcast, others were of the firm opinion that the national broadcast fell short of the expectations of most Nigerians.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said in a statement that a brief meeting between the President and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo held at the Presidential Villa on Monday morning.
The president was said to have held a closed door meeting with Osinbajo where certain issues were said to have been discussed between the duo.
Adesina later disclosed that the President has signed a letter notifying the National Assembly of his resumption, adding that a copy has been sent to the Senate President and another copy to the Speaker, House of Representatives, “so the President has resumed.”
The letters to the Senate and House of Representatives were signed at about 11am on Monday by the President.
The two letters were delivered to both chambers of the National Assembly by the Special Adviser to the President on House of Representatives Matters, Hon Suleiman Kawu.
Already, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has acknowledged the receipt of the President’s letter to the Upper chamber of the National Assembly.
In the words of Saraki, “I have received a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari informing the Senate that he has returned to the country. I have also acknowledged the letter”.
A statement from the office of the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, on Monday night also stated that the President’s resumption letter was delivered to the Speaker by Kawu Sumaila on Monday.
The Daily Times further gathered that the letter will be read in plenary of both chambers when the National Assembly resumes from its recess on September 19.
Buhari had written to the National Assembly on May 17, informing the lawmakers of his medical trip to London while he also transmitted power to Osinbajo to act in his absence.
On what his resumption will do to Nigerians, the presidential spokesman said it means the president they voted into office, who has been serving them and who was indisposed for some time and who came back on Saturday, is ready to continue with the work he has been doing.
Adesina further stated that: “In line with constitutional provision, President Muhammadu Buhari has written the National Assembly, notifying the legislature of his return to office, after returning from medical vacation in London.
“President Buhari had returned to the country on Saturday, August 19, 2017, and in a letter dated August 21, 2017, he told the Senate as well as the House of Representatives, that he was resuming office.
The letter read thus: “In compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I write to intimate that I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, 21st August, 2017, after my medical follow-up in the United Kingdom.
President Muhammadu Buhari had left for London on May 7, 2017, and handed the reins of government to Osinbajo who functioned as the acting president.
By the letter, Buhari has been legally empowered to return to office after embarking on medical vacation on May 7.
He had written to the National Assembly after handing over power to Osinbajo before his UK trip.
Reacting to the development, former Vice President and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar advised Nigerians to help Buhari to succeed by focusing on issues that unite the nation rather than those that divide her.
Atiku, who gave the advice while welcoming President Buhari back home after his medical leave in the United Kingdom, expressed delight at his level of good health and recovery.
In a press statement made available to journalists on Monday by his media office, the former Vice President said every well-meaning Nigerian should be happy with the recovery of the President.
According to him, a healthy and stronger Buhari would be able to concentrate more vigorously on the task of implementing his campaign promises to Nigerians.
He explained that President Buhari’s recovery is good news for the country and Nigerians because “it would reduce the needless conspiracy theories surrounding his health and long absence.”
The Waziri Adamawa noted that the task of governance is so enormous that the country should celebrate the return of the President.
Atiku further advised Nigerians to help the President succeed “by focusing on issues that unite us rather than those that divide us, and thereby distracting the President from attending to the tasks at hand.”
The former Vice President also cautioned politicians against the promotion of hate politics for selfish advantages, adding that “a situation where Nigerians perceive one another as enemies rather than brothers who should be united by their common interests is unhealthy and inimical to our democracy.”
He urged all Nigerians, irrespective of party affiliation, to continue to pray for the President to succeed in the larger interest of the country.
In her reaction, former Minister of Education, Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili, described President’s Muhammadu Buhari’s Monday broadcast as a “terrible case of missed opportunity”.
Ezekwesili, in a message on her tweeter handle, said: “I can give an instant Citizen’s feedback to President Muhammadu Buhari that his speech this morning was a terrible case of missed opportunity”.
On its part, the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) described Saturday’s home coming of Buhari after 103 days medical vacation in London as not only divine but a reward to all Nigerians for keeping faith with God.
Similarly, the United Progressive Party (UPP) called Buhari’s return from his medical leave in the United Kingdom as an answer to the prayers of fellow compatriots for his recovery and safe return to continue the enormous task of building a strong, united, prosperous and egalitarian society.
The two political parties said these in separate press statements issued by them on Monday in Abuja.
The Rivers APC, in a statement by its State Chairman, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, pointed out that Nigerians fervent prayers for an innocent man, whose drive is to better the lots of all Nigerians, have been answered.
The Rivers APC said: “We sincerely thank God for proving himself as the God of the just by saving the life of our dear President contrary to the prayers and wishes of these misguided politicians who decided to play ‘god’ in the politics of our country”.
The party noted with gladness the President’s broadcast on Monday morning which it said has assured Nigerians that they are now free to live and do business in any part of this country without any molestation or threat.
On its party, the UPP, while welcoming Buhari back home from his medical leave in the United Kingdom, said: “It is an answer to the prayers of fellow compatriots for his recovery and safe return to continue the enormous task of building a strong, united, prosperous and egalitarian society.
“We are grateful to God that President Buhari returned hale and hearty to complete his mandate till 2019 and urge him to take prompt action to diffuse the tension in the polity, revamp the economy and provide dividends of democracy to the populace.
“It is time for patriotism. It is time to reaffirm and renew our confidence in the fatherland and join Mr. President in steering the ship of the Nigeria State to the path of rectitude, progress and development,” the UPP said in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie.
The party therefore wished the President good health in discharging his constitutional responsibilities.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it joined other Nigerians to welcome back President Muhammadu Buhari from his medical sojourn in London for over three months.
“We believe that Mr. President is healthier now to assume his responsibility at the helm of the Country’s affairs.
“We thank the Almighty for saving his life and pray that He grants him better health and understanding on how to rescue our poor economy and relieve Nigerians from the current hardship”, the statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said.
Meanwhile, the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has thanked Nigerians for their prayers and support as her husband returned back to the country after spending 103 days on medical vacation in London.
Mrs. Buhari stated this on her official twitter handle on Monday. Thanking Nigerians, Mrs. Buhari tweeted thus: “As we welcome our dear President back home, I am grateful to Nigerians and well-wishers all over the world for
their continuous prayers and support. May God continue to guide, protect and bless us all and our dear country Nigeria.”
In a related development, some lawyers have expressed divergent views over the propriety of the president’s broadcast to the country. The lawyers spoke in different interviews with our correspondents in Abuja on Monday.
A senior lawyer, Mr. Mahmud Magaji (SAN), in his reaction, urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Buhari and wait for him to fulfill the promises he made during his address to Nigerians.
Magaji, who spoke on the backdrop of the expectations of Nigerians on what steps the President should take to revive the nation’s battered economy, said, “ Buhari has said all that he would do during his Monday’s address to Nigerians. Everything was captured in his speech including insecurity, economy, politic and unity of the country, so we should wait and see”.
But a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, has expressed disappointment with the national broadcast by Buhari, describing it as more of buck passing on the issues of restructuring, true federalism and devolution of powers.
Adegboruwa noted that this was particularly sad when one considers that these same issues were the main campaign slogans of the president, as encapsulated in the All Progressives Congress, APC manifesto.
He said: “I had thought that the aides of the president were being unduly diplomatic, all the while, by keeping the sealed lip over his health status, but it is clear now from the president’s speech, that they were only acting out his script of secrecy, contrary to his oath of office.
“The greatest disappointment in the presidential broadcast is the act of buck passing, on the issue of restructuring, true federalism and devolution of powers, which were the main campaign slogans of the president, as encapsulated in the APC manifesto.
“So, I now ask: what was it that the president was discussing with the senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives when they all visited him in London?
Adegboruwa further accused the President of taking Nigerians for a ride over his medical trip abroad among other things.
“The president has not addressed the questions on the lips of all Nigerians, as to make full and frank disclosures, on the nature of his ailment, that took him out of Nigeria for 103 days, the state of his health presently, and the nature of his treatment, so as to engender hope in this regime and bring certainty to governance”.
Also, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, who spoke on the expectations of Nigerians on Buhari’s return to the country after a medical vacation in London, maintained that Nigerians need the President to take more actions than he’s done in the past.
He said, “Nigerians are not just interested in the physical appearance of the President. We want to see actions”.
On his return, the President had transmitted a letter of resumption to the National Assembly on Monday in compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The said Section 145 states thus: “Whenever the president is proceeding on vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit in written declaration to the President of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmit to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as the Acting President”.
Lateef Ibrahim, Tom Okpe, Mathew Dadiya, Andrew Orolua and Francesca Iwambe, Abuja