Two days after announcing readiness to resume duties, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday authorised the cancellation of the day’s weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Mr. Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement, Wednesday morning, said his principal would rather, at noon, receive the report of the Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo-led committee asked to probe the allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ayodele Oke.
The Wednesday cancellation makes it the fifth time the president would not be available for the FEC meeting. Since April 12, he has not attended the weekly meeting of the council which consists of himself, his deputy, Head of Civil Service of Federation, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President and the ministers.
The last time the president attended and presided over the FEC meeting was April 5.
On April 12 – barely a month after returning from an earlier medical vacation from January 19 to March 10 – Mr. Buhari was absent at the FEC meeting. According to the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, he was attending to “other issues”, thus asking Mr. Osinbajo to lead the meeting.
“Mr. President is not ill again…Mr. President is in town; Mr. President is attending to other issues. He looked at the agenda for the meeting and decided that the vice president should preside. It is not unusual for the vice president to preside over FEC meetings,” said Mr. Mohammed.
The following week, April 19, the meeting, like it happened today, did not hold at all . That cancellation, the presidency said, was due to “logistics” as State House secretariat staff were yet to resume from the Easter break.
Garba Shehu, Mr. Buhari’s media senior media aide said: “The staff on the Council secretariat resumed on Tuesday after the Easter. There was no time to prepare and circulate memos to ministers.”
He described as “very unfair’’ those attributing the cancellation of the FEC meeting to the president’s health conditions.
Then, on April 26, the meeting held, but the President was absent, leaving Mr. Osinbajo to preside again. He had sought “leave to work from home”, according to Mr. Mohammed.
The following week, May 3, the President was absent again.
But despite the efforts to spin the president’s absences, many Nigerians suspected he had been failing to appear for the weekly meeting – and Friday Jumaat service too – on health ground.
Eventually, on May 7, the president embarked on another medical vacation, the fourth since May 2015. He headed to London to treat undisclosed ailment, but returned last Saturday. He had spent 103 days.
On Monday, Mr. Buhari addressed the nation in a short broadcast in which he expressed strong views on the Nigeria’s unity and vowed zero-tolerance for separatist struggles and inflammatory statements. Later that day, he chaired the Security Council meeting.
Mr. Shehu plunged the country into embarrassment yesterday, when he said the President would have to work from home, because his office had been infested by rodents, while he was away on medical vacation.
“Kai, I have done a systematic examination of this Rat story from the Presidency. I found no redeeming prospect,” tweeted former Education Minister and Bring Back Our Girls co-convener, Oby Ezekwesili. “They elevated Rodents.” She joined many other Nigerians, mocking the Buhari administration.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, (BBC) , also reported how rats “chased out” Nigeria’s President from office.
Mr. Buhari returned to Nigeria on Saturday after spending 103 days in London for medical treatment.
The president had constituted the panel to investigate the corruption allegation levelled against the suspended SGF by the Nigerian senate and that against Mr. Oke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He was to receive the report on May 8 but his health condition deteriorated, forcing him to return to London on May 7.