Politicians desert Aso Villa as Buhari extends medical vacation indefinitely

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*President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended indefinitely his medical vacation in the United Kingdom which began on Monday, January 23, 2017.

The development has reduced drastically the heavy human traffic of politicians who used to turn the Villa to a Mecca of sorts when the president was around.

The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina explained in a statement issued in Abuja that the extension would enable the president complete medical tests.

He also said the President had written to the national assembly informing it of his desire to extend his vacation to allow him (the President) “complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.”

The statement reads: “President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly today, February 5, 2017, informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.

“The President had planned to return to Abuja this (Sunday) evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning. The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives.

“Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes.”

Buhari who was expected to return to the country on Sunday, February 5 to resume duty today (Monday), was not categorical when he would return to the country.

It would be recalled that had written to the Senate that Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo would act on his behalf as president for the 10 days that he would be on medical vacation.

In the letter addressed to the senate president, Bukola Saraki, President Buhari said he was writing in line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to the letter which was read on the floor of the Senate at plenary by Saraki, President Buhari said he would be away from Monday, January 23 to Monday, February 6.

“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, I wish to inform the distinguished Senate that I will be away on a short medical vacation from Monday January, 23 to February 6th, 2017 and while I am away, the Vice President (Osinbajo) will perform the functions of my office.

“Please, accept, as always assurances of my highest esteemed consideration.”

Analysts said the president’s indeterminate medical leave could negatively affect his administration’s credibility regarding information management as his media aides had earlier told Nigerians that the president was not sick but had only gone to the UK on vacation.

But in seeking an extension of his vacation, they said the president now refers to advice by his doctors.

However, since Buhari left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on the 10-day medical vacation, activities at the Aso Rock Villa have slowed down with politicians and hangers-on deserting the once-bubbling presidential abode.

According to the Punch, most hit is the President’s wing of the government area in the Three Arms Zone district of the Federal Capital Territory.

Actions have shifted to the Vice-President’s Wing from where Acting President Osinbajo has been calling the shots.

Security agents were however still seen manning their beats around the President’s office.

The Press Gallery located beside the Council Chambers in the President’s wing was deserted as State House correspondents relocated to the Vice-President’s side.

The population of worshippers who took part in Jumat prayers at the mosque located beside the President’s office reduced drastically.

Consequently, attendance at daily prayers in the mosque has reduced drastically while the president is away.

“The number of people attending prayers in the mosque now is about one-third of the usual population. There are now vacant spaces everywhere in the mosque,” said a worshipper said.

Similarly, most politicians, especially state governors, have kept off the villa unlike the past when Buhari was around.

Since Buhari went on vacation, only four state governors were sighted at the Presidential Villa.

The governors are Rochas Okorocha (Imo); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Abdulazeez Yari (Zamfara); and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).

“One cannot really say for sure why the governors kept off but I know some of them will not want to be caught in the web of loyalty. Their visiting the Acting President may be misconstrued to mean that they are more loyal to him than the President,” said a government official, who pleaded anonymity.

Although it was observed that civil servants were going about their duties normally, most political appointees, including presidential aides also stayed away from their offices for the better part of the vacation.

It was also learnt that on the permission of the President, the political appointees used the opportunity to embark on a short vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The President had on June 26, 2015, stopped taking part in Jumat service at the National Mosque, Abuja and opted to do so inside the Presidential Villa.

 

He had said he took the decision out of consideration for the hardships always imposed on members of the public by road closures during presidential movements.

 

 

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