The stay of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, in London has entered its third week, fueling speculations of an extension of his medical sojourn in the United Kingdom yet the Presidency has not issued an update on his London stay.
As few days turn to few weeks, Nigerians are curious to know whether the President’s medical trip has been extended and when he would be back in the country to attend to the challenges and exigencies of governance as the father of the nation.
The President travelled to London on March 30 for a “routine medical check-up”, according to presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina.
Adesina in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari Billed For Routine Medical Check-Up In London’ had said his principal “is due back in the country during the second week of April, 2021”.
But as of the date of filing this report – the third week, – the President has not returned to the country and the Presidency has not issued an update as to an extension of his London stay.
In fact, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, kept mum on the President’s actual return date when asked at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Last week, Buhari in a letter to the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, King Abdullah ll Bin Al-Hussein, said he is “ in London taking a short rest”.
However, Buhari’s “short rest” at the Abuja House in London has been marred with the #HarassBuhariOutOfLondon protest organised by Reno Omokri, an ex-aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan. A counter-protest or a solidarity protest was soon organised in support of the Nigerian president in what could be described as absurd drama.
This is not the first time the President will travel to London for medical purpose. According to PUNCH findings, between 2015 and 2019, Buhari spent a total of 404 days (a year and 39 days) travelling to 33 countries on four continents.
The country he visited the most was the United Kingdom where he spent 217 days mostly on health grounds and meetings of Commonwealth Heads of State and Government.
But while in London this time around, resident doctors went on strike for at least 10 days. The strike which commenced on April 1 was called off on April 10.
Buhari has also been criticised for his medical trips abroad despite the huge amount allocated to the Aso Rock clinic annually.
Buhari is away at a time when the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria has been on strike since April 6 over autonomy for the judiciary.
The President is also away at a time when different parts of the country boil with insecurity.
At the beginning of Buhari’s London trip, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said it was not necessary for the President to transmit power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo because he would be away for a few days.