A cross-section of the President’s kinsmen expressed the view during the week when Saturday PUNCH visited Daura, his hometown in Katsina State.
At the palace of the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouq Umar, a senior official who didn’t give his name, said Nigerians should continue to support the President in prayers and respect his privacy.
He said, “We offer prayers for him here on a daily basis and every Jumaat; we pray for him in the mosques and eagerly look forward to his safe return to Nigeria very soon.”
Also, an official in the Daura Local Government secretariat, Alhaji Haliru Majigiri, who described the President as a father figure to many residents of the town, begged Nigerians to allow Buhari to rest and regain his health in the UK.
According to him, Nigerians should intensify prayers for the President.
He said, “We are talking about the nation’s president and not an ordinary Nigerian. The government has the right to either disclose details of his health status or not. The government can also decide not to disclose the amount it has spent on him. People should allow him to recover since he handed over to the Vice President before leaving the country.
“I will still appeal to every Nigerian to offer more prayers for the President’s recovery. He is like a father to all of us here in Daura. Whenever he is around, the town benefits economically and security is improved. Those in government see beyond what the citizens see and this may inform their decision to keep details of his health condition confidential. All I would say is that we should all continue to pray for his recovery.”
To Mallam Abdulilyas Kareem, a public commentator based in the state, what President Buhari deserves from Nigerians are prayers and not additional trouble. Kareem described calls for the public disclosure of the President’s health status as a distraction and a waste of time.
Buhari’s health: Stop the lies, Fani-Kayode tells Osinbajo
He said, “It is an open secret that President Buhari is a lone ranger in his fight against corruption and he is doing all he could to put a stop to the problem. But now that he is ill and out of the country for treatment, political jobbers have turned the issue to unnecessary distraction and political issues instead of assisting in continuing with the fight against corruption so that we can salvage the country.
“Personally, I will urge Nigerians not to relent in their prayers for the President’s recovery for the sake of the progress of the country.”
Also, Katsina State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mallam Tanimu Saulawa, said, “I believe the President had done what was expected of him constitutionally before his medical trip. This is our President and Nigerians, irrespective of tribe or religion, should show the spirit of nationalism.
“We should rather intensify prayers for him for his recovery because the national responsibilities on him are enormous.’’
Some elders in Daura, namely: Alhaji Lawan Saidu, Alhaji Ahmed Haroun and Alhaji Seidu Awalu, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, also expressed the same view, saying the President should be left alone to recuperate.
“Anyone can be sick, so why is everybody attacking the President as if he is not a human being? The last time he was in the country, he told Nigerians that he was ill and had never been that ill, so what else do you want him to do?” Awalu asked.
The community leaders also urged Nigerians to intensify prayers to God to grant Buhari good health.
Ahmed Garba and Mohammed Salisu, who are both students at the School of Health Technology, Daura, also called on Nigerians to leave Buhari alone, adding that the President should not heed calls for his resignation as they believed he still had a lot to offer Nigerians.
“As human beings, we all fall ill at one time or the other, so people should leave the President alone,” Garba said.
A commercial driver in the town, Kamar Majigini, also called for a united Nigeria, adding that Buhari “should be left in peace to regain his health.
The President left the country on Sunday, May 8, for medical treatment in the UK and a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the duration of Buhari’s stay in London would be determined by his doctors.
Earlier, Buhari had embarked on medical vacation in the same country, spending 49 days, before returning on Friday, March 10.
On his return then, the President declared that he had never been that ill.
His statement contrasted sharply with that of top government officials who had insisted that he was hale and hearty.
On Tuesday, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo made an impromptu visit to the UK for a meeting with Buhari that reportedly lasted for one hour after which he swiftly left to begin the journey home.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Osinbajo said Buhari was doing well, “recuperating very quickly” and that they “had a very good conversation on wide ranging issues.”
However, the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, have accused the Acting President of lying about the state of the health of the President.
Fayose, who is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum, also called for Buhari’s resignation.
The governor on Thursday threatened to release 11 pictures, which he said would prove to Nigerians that the President’s health had deteriorated.
Fani-Kayode also challenged the President’s handlers “to prove to us that he (Buhari) is not suffering from chronic dementia and that he is not a vegetable that is hooked up to a life-support machine.”
But, Katsina-based civil society organisations, the state chapter of the National Conscience Party and others have criticised Fayose and Fani-Kayode for their comments against the President.
Although they supported the calls for the government to be more open with Nigerians about Buhari’s health, they lambasted those calling for the President’s resignation.
For instance, the state Chairman of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, Dr. Bashir Ruwangodya, said he was saddened by the comments made by Fayose and Fani-Kayode, which he described as sentimental, political and bad for the nation’s progress.
Ruwangodya said, “I am saddened by the comments of Governor Fayose and Chief Fani-Kayode doubting the Acting President’s claims on the health of President Buhari. They have introduced politics and sentiments into the whole development instead of being realistic. Osinbajo has demonstrated his commitment and neutrality on the matter.”
He, however, said that as Nigeria’s President, issues concerning Buhari should be made known to Nigerians.
He said, “Buhari is Nigeria’s President and Nigerians, irrespective of their vocation, religion and tribe, have every right to know and ask questions on everything pertaining to their President.”
The chairperson of the state chapter of a non-governmental organisation, ‘Women for Peace,’ Hajiya Halima Dangiwa, said all inquiries regarding the nature of the President’s ailment, the amount so far spent on his treatment, and sundry issues, should be reserved for Buhari to answer when he returns.
She said, “Nigerians should continue with their prayers for the recovery of the President. We should wait for him till when he recovers and returns to the country before raising all the issues concerning his sickness. As a mother and as a Nigerian, my concern is for the recovery of President Buhari and I enjoin every patriotic Nigerian to continue to pray for him.”
But the Chairman of the National Conscience Party in the state, Mallam Abdul Shehu Sani, said Fayose and Fani-Kayode were entitled to their opinions but called for caution.
Sani said, “Both Fayose and Fani-Kayode are entitled to their calls for the true status of President Buhari’s health. Their demands are in line with the principles of transparency and accountability of the present regime. But I believe this is the time Nigerians should see themselves as one and forge a common front.”
He, nonetheless, implored Nigerians to continue to pray for the recovery of the President.
In March 2010, while addressing members of the National Unity Forum, who had paid him a courtesy visit in Kaduna State, Buhari, who was in the opposition at the time, called for the impeachment of then President Umaru Yar’Adua, who was ill and had not been seen in public since November 2009.
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