* President May Request Extension Of Medical Leave
* Presidency Denies Pressure On Osinbajo To Resign
* Says Buhari Is Hale And Hearty
Following concerns over the health of the nation’s first citizen, President Muhammadu Buhari, state governors are meeting today in Abuja in an emergency gathering to discuss important state matters, including his condition as he is out of the country on a 10-day medical leave.
A competent source told Independent on Wednesday that the meeting was called by the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, who is also the Zamfara State governor.
Some of the governors, Independent learnt, started arriving Abuja Wednesday preparatory for the meeting which will last through the night.
It was gathered that the previously un-scheduled meeting was called to brief the state governors on the state of affairs as speculations on the health of the president keeps spewing different and sometimes contradictory stories.
One of the state governors told this newspaper that the meeting is to discuss “important state issues that could have serious consequences if not tackled on time”.
There were also indications on Wednesday that President Buhari might extend his 10-day trip to the United Kingdom where he is currently receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
The president last week Thursday wrote the Senate that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will act on his behalf as president for 10 days while he’s away in London for vacation and to also undergo routine medical check-up. Though, the president said in his letter that the vacation would commence four days ago (Monday), it was disclosed that the president left the country last Thursday same day his letter arrived the Senate which made many believe that his condition may be critical.
Meanwhile, presidency sources say that while the president is recuperating, he may request an extension beyond the present 10 days from the Senate. It was also gathered at the National Assembly that its leadership is waiting to receive a letter from the president seeking an extension of his 10 days holiday in the United Kingdom.
There have been reports that the health of the president has taken a turn for the worse in a London Hospital where he was taken to last weekend to receive medical care. At a point, a report indicated that the president had passed on, but the presidency quickly rebutted this, saying the president is hale and hearty. Pictures were also shown of the president watching a television programme in his room abroad.
In a related development, the presidency on Wednesday denied reports that there are attempts by state governors to force Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to resign from office. The presidency calls the information a fabrication that should be discarded by well-meaning Nigerians. There were reports that Northern governors are prevailing on Osinbajo, who is acting as president owing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s 10 days medical vacation, to resign. The governors are said to believe that power may leave the North to the South if Osinbajo is sworn in as the president in case of any oddity.
It was also said that some members of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet are not giving Osinbajo a free hand to govern even though he presided over Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
While dispelling this thinking, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said he has received several calls on the developments but added that there is no pressure on the vice president to resign. According to Ojudu, “I have read many ridiculous stories saying the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is being held hostage by some governors who are trying to compel him to resign. I have equally received several calls regarding this.
“The story is simply not true. It is a fabrication. Don’t be a purveyor of fake news. The vice president is behind his desk carrying out his task. The Federal Executive Council presided over by him has just ended and he has been busy receiving visitors and holding meetings”, he said.
Also on Wednesday, the Federal Government urged Nigerians to disregard the subversive messages being circulated via text messages and the social media on the health of President Buhari, saying the fabricated messages are being orchestrated by those who feel threatened by the emerging order.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said there is no iota of truth in the messages being circulated on the health of the president, who, he said, is hale and hearty, and the purported emergency meeting of the state governors in Abuja or anywhere.
He said the naysayers have also resorted to the use of ethnicity and religion as tools to divide Nigerians, overheat the polity and cause panic among the citizenry, in addition to using fake news and disinformation to distort government activities.
Alhaji Mohammed said while opposition and criticism are all part of democracy, the crafting and circulation of subversive materials and scare-mongering are not, hence the full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on those who are bent on subverting the state.
”The source/sources of the fabricated messages are already being investigated and the authors should prepare to face the consequences of their actions.
”The emerging trend of resorting to destabilisation and scare-mongering is not unexpected, considering this government’s clamp-down on the corrupt elements in the society, the plugging of all financial leaks which has derailed the gravy train of the looters of public treasury and the enthronement of probity and transparency in the polity.
“While we will neither stifle press freedom nor abridge the citizens’ right to express themselves freely, whether through criticism or protests, the security agencies will neither allow any resort to violence nor a willful subversion of the state for whatever reason,” he warned.