The sudden decision to extend the 10-day vacation taken by President Buhari will raise political risk in the country, analysts in the financial sector have warned. The presidency announced in a terse statement yesterday evening that President Buhari, who was expected in the country on Sundayevening has written the national assembly, asking for an extension of his holiday. The statement did not specify how many more days or weeks that the president required, leaving room for uncertainty and speculation on how long he will stay away.
A statement by Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina, said President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to the National Assembly on Sunday to extend his vacation.
Speculation has been mounting over the true state of health of the president with the presidency forced to deny twice that he was dead.
Concerns had further mounted when the leadership of the National Assembly last week visited Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa three times given rise to speculations that the discussions were about the president state of health and plans to extend the president’s vacation. There have also been rumours that the acting president was under pressure to resign. But this has been denied by the presidency.
Earlier BusinessDay had also observed that no plans or schedule had been made for the President’s return in relation to how he would be received at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport as is usually the culture when the president is returning to the country.
Aso Rock sources had hinted that some duty officials had been asked to stay on alert for Tuesday, but the official statement from the Presidential Villa was silent on the specific date of the president’s return.
“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 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” Adesina said in a statement.
On Sunday BusinessDay findings showed none of the departments in the Presidential villa could confirm the time of the President’s arrival as most complained his return was shrouded in secrecy .
Buhari 74, left the shores of the country on the 19th of January 2017 after transmitting a letter to the National Assembly stating that he will be proceeding on a 10 day vacation to London. The president had left three days earlier than when his official leave was meant to commence.
Also as a sign that the leave was not planned, acting President Yemi Osinbajo had to cut short his trip to Davos to come back to Nigeria to resume as acting president. Sources had also told BusinessDay that Global Chief Executive Officer, GE Jeff Immelt who was in the country to see the president on 24 January to discuss the planned investment in railways and refineries was unable to see him because of the unscheduled vacation. However, he met with the acting president instead.
A statement by presidential spokesman had said while on vacation the President will undergo routine medical checkup. There have been concerns about the President’s health even as the Presidency continues
to assure that all is well and there is no cause for alarm.
In June last year, Buhari who took over the helm of power on the 29th of May 2015 left the shores of the country to London on a 10 day medical vacation. He was said to be battling with ear infections and
was to be checked by Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists.
In February last year the President also took off to his favourite vacation spot, London, on a five day vacation.
Since leaving the country last month, Nigerians have continued to speculate on the President’s state of health, death and even his ability to salvage the Africa’s once largest economy from the biting
On his return from his vacation, the President was expected to launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and make some other pronouncements
that officials say is expected to revive the ailing economy. Now with the extension of the vacation, it is not clear if the acting president will go ahead with the launch plan.
Multilateral lending agencies, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank have confirmed to BusinessDay that their lending plans to the country will not go ahead unless the government is able to present the economic recovery plan.
Also at stake is the confirmation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnogen, who will cease to be acting Chief Justice on 7 February if by that date the president fails to send his name to the senate for confirmation. There has been speculation that Buhari will forward his name on his return but it is now left to the acting president Osinbajo to do so or the country could be plunged into judicial crisis unless the National Judicial Council resubmits Onnogen’s name to the acting president.