Two presidential aides have declared that the nature of President Muhammad Buhari’s illness is nobody’s business, in response to protests in Abuja demanding that the President return to the job he was elected to do or resign respectfully.
The statements were triggered due to protests led by a coalition of civil society organizations convened by Deji Adeyanju, the National Coordinator, Foundation For True Freedom and Good Leadership; Publicity Secretary, #OurMumuDonDo Movement, Adebayo Raphael; Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; and Secretary of Concerned Nigerians, John Danfulani.
The protests are expected to continue daily in London and Abuja. Speaking to the media on the reason for the protests, Adeyanju said, “The leadership of the National Assembly must choose between the Nigerian people and the cabal. Ninety days is too long for a president to be away from his country without any explanation to the people that voted him into office.
“If Buhari has become incapacitated, he should do the honourable thing and resign because he cannot continue to hold the country to ransom; his absence in the country is being exploited by a cabal to loot the treasury.
“We hereby demand that the National Assembly invoke Section 144 sub-section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution and direct the setting up of a medical panel in conjunction with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to ascertain whether the President is incapacitated or not.”
in response, Garba Shehu, a Presidential spokesman said, “I wish to respond to media enquiries following demonstration by a few citizens this morning in Abuja. The demonstration is in the exercise of their freedom under the constitution, which guarantees their right to embark on peaceful protests.
“So long as they remain peaceful, we have no problem with them. What is democracy if citizens can’t peacefully demonstrate?
“On the second issue, demanding the President’s return, or resignation or certain explanations, I would say that they have over-stepped their bounds.
“The President has complied 100 per cent with the constitution by handing over power to the Vice-President before proceeding on his vacation. He has not breached any law or the constitution by staying away from office to take care of his health.
“Equally, there is nothing like a power vacuum in the country given the competence and general harmony with which the whole government is running.
“Any such calls as being made by this or any other group represents an irrational assault on the constitution and should be ignored by well-meaning members of the public.
“The need of the hour for this country is to rid it of corruption, reform and reinvigorate the economy and to fight crime and insurgency.
“The government is busy with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure all over the country. It is creating jobs for the unemployed. It has set its sight on the larger picture of the country’s development; investing in rail and power projects and redeeming the country’s image from the mountains of corruption scandals that have marred it.
“We will not, therefore, be distracted by this or any other groups.”
Also reacting during a Channels TV interview, a social media aide to the President, Lauretta Onochie said, “For the life of me, I have no idea why anybody should disrespect another by asking for the details of their health status.
“As we speak, we have an acting president. As we speak, President Buhari seems to be like a private citizen at the moment. We have no right and it is very disrespectful for anyone to ask for his health status. In the UK where I came from nobody would release anybody’s health record to another, not even the members of their family unless the person decides to approve.
“The prerogative to speak on his ailment lies only on President Buhari. If he chooses, it is a choice. It is very disrespectful and very intrusive. We are intruding into his private rights. He has rights too as a citizen of Nigeria. It is not right, not appropriate. Anybody can get sick at any particular time”.