Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Buhari not restricted to a chair, says governor

Nasarawa State Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura, yesteday said that the president is not confined to a chair after the Rumours on the President’s health were debunked again yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari hosted an All Progressives Congress (APC) delegation in London on Sunday. The Presidency released the photograph of the meeting and a short story on the visit.

After a brief silence, the critics returned to action yesterday, insisting that the President is gravely ill.

Al-Makura was in the delegation led by APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun.

Also on the visit were Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, Governors Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi).

Al-Makura said the President was “agile, mentally alert” and brainstormed on state matters for about an hour with the delegation during the meeting at the Nigerian House in London.

He described those doubting the photograph of the meeting as being “comical”.

The governor, who spoke exclusively with our correspondent shortly after returning from London yesterday, said: “The President is fit enough to return any time.”

“We did not only visit the President, we walked, we sat down with him and we fraternised the way we used to do. He was not confined to any chair or any place.

“The President was really looking himself and very healthy. He was very alert, very concerned about the country and he was abreast of the latest issues in Nigeria. He has information on everything going on in the country.

“He maintained his agility, his strength, his wit and the alertness of his mind. As far as I am concerned, the President can come back any time from now. He is fit to return home.”

Al-Makura said: “For about an hour, we brainstormed on a number of issues, especially about national interest and the unity of this country. We spoke generally on how to handle issues or policies that will enhance the quality of life in this country.

“The President also tried to find out how each state was doing from the governors on the trip. And he asked questions from party leaders and all members of the delegation.

“After a long session, we ended up on the dining table where we feasted with the President.”

On the allegation that the trip was a make-believe, Al-Makura said: “Anyone can embark on wishful thinking. I was a member of the delegation and I have told you the truth about the way we met and interacted with the President.

“The onus is on who alleges to prove otherwise. Whoever says we didn’t go is casting aspersions on our integrity. This is really unfortunate. We have no cause to lie to Nigerians. I just came in this morning and I have all my travel documents intact.

“I am surprised that anyone could say that we didn’t see the President. It makes me to appreciate the extent to which a person  can go comical.”

Leading the critics is the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which  has faulted the approach adopted by the APC and some government functionaries in communicating with Nigerians about the President’s health.

In a telephone chat with our correspondent in Abuja, PDP spokesman Dayo Adeyeye chided the delegation, saying they were not being fair to Nigerians.

Adeyeye said if the President was indeed well as shown to Nigerians, the APC delegation ought to have got from him audio and video messages  to Nigerians.

Adeyeye said, “For God’s sake, President Buhari was elected to represent about 200 million Nigerians and they are circulating just one photograph without any word from the leader.

“That is not the right way to treat Nigerians who have been feeling the President’s absence from the country for close to three months. They are being unfair to the Nigerian people.”

The opposition spokesman challenged the ruling party and its officials in government to do what others in civilised world do in similar situations by providing detailed information on the President’s state of health.

“The Presidency and the APC should learn to do the right. Nigerians deserve better treatment from a President they elected to run the affairs of their country.

“It is very unfair to keep them in the dark concerning the health of the President only to be circulating just one photograph in the media for people who have been praying for the recovery of our President all this while”, Adeyeye added.

Restating the commitment of the PDP to continue to pray for the speedy recovery of the President, Adeyeye maintained that the opposition party sincerely wished Buhari well.

“As a party, we have been praying for the President’s speedy recovery and we will continue to pray for his recovery because when it comes to matters of health, nobody is immune to illness.

“But the Presidency and the APC should stop taking Nigerians for granted with the way they are handling issues around the President’s health. This is not the way to treat a President they elected to govern them,” Adeyeye added.

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