|Posted by Admin on March 12, 2017 at 9:00 AM|
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday returned to the country after spending 49 days on medical vacation in the United Kingdom, sparking celebrations in the Federal Capital Territory and some states in the North, including Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa and Kaduna.
Many well-wishers slaughtered rams, chickens and celebrated on the streets.
The Presidential Aircraft with registration number 001-5N-FGT, conveying Buhari and some of his aides, landed at the Nigerian Air Force 401 Flying Training School Aerodrome at exactly 7.47am.
Buhari, who alighted from the aircraft at about 7.55am, after exchanging pleasantries with top government and military officials, went straight into a waiting helicopter that took him to Abuja.
Wild jubilation in Abuja, Katsina, others
There was jubilation in the FCT following Buhari’s return to the country on Friday after a prolonged absence.
Hundreds of youths in the FCT, particularly in the satellite towns, trooped out as early as 9am on hearing the news of the President’s return.
In Maraba, a border town between Nasarawa State and the FCT, hundreds of youths were sighted along Abuja-Keffi Road, celebrating the President’s return.
Abuja-Nasarawa Road was also shut down as it had been taken over by some northerners celebrating Buhari’s arrival and chanting, ‘Sai Baba’.
In Nyanya and Karu, youths, particularly from the northern part of the country, were jumping up and shouting “Baba oyoyo, baba yadawo (Baba welcome. Baba has returned). 2019, babu chanji (2019, no change).”
As of noon on Friday, the celebration was still going on along Abuja-Keffi Road, thus causing traffic congestion, particularly at the Nyanya axis.
There was also jubilation by residents in Jos, Plateau State, particularly along Bauchi Road.
It was learnt that there was reckless driving by youths and commercial tricycle operators in areas on Bauchi Road and Murtala Muhammed Way.
In Buhari’s home state, Katsina, there was also festive mood for the better part of Friday as residents trooped to the streets to celebrate the President’s return.
Jubilant residents thronged major streets, including Sabo Line, Nagogo Road, IBB Road, Kofan Kaora and Kofa Waya, some riding on motorcycles and in private vehicles singing the President and Governor Aminu Masari’s praises.
Some of the residents also displayed posters of the President and the state governor.
One of the jubilant residents, Halheri Haladu, expressed happiness that the President was back in the country.
Also, in Daura, Buhari’s hometown, residents took to major streets to express their joy.
The state governor, Masari, in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Abdul Labaran, described the President’s safe return to Nigeria as the best gift Nigerians had received this year and commended the people for their love and support for Buhari during the time he was away.
Some Bauchi residents also took to the streets on Friday to celebrate the President’s return.
One of our correspondents observed as some residents assembled at the gate of the Bauchi State Government House, requesting to see the governor to rejoice with him.
They displayed APC posters and flags.
One of them said, “We are happy that Baba Buhari is back safely. We are here to rejoice with the governor.”
As of the time of filing this report (5pm), they were still at the Government House, awaiting the governor, but no government official had yet to address them.
Some jubilant youths were also sighted on motorcycles on Gidan Mai-Ahmadu Bello Way and Wunti Road.
About five police vehicles were stationed at the Government House gate to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
There were also online reports of jubilation in Gombe State, with pictures of youths slaughtering rams, goats and fowls to celebrate Buhari’s return.
Early Friday morning, there were online reports that some residents of Kaduna State, particularly in its southern part like Kakuri area, had started throwing parties to celebrate the President.
APC, Atiku celebrate Buhari’s return
The All Progressives Congress and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar also expressed delight with Buhari’s return, saying it has put to rest speculations over his prolonged absence.
This was contained in two separate statements issued by the APC and the Atiku Media Office, in Abuja, on Friday.
The APC statement, which was signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, welcomed the President back into the country after his medical vacation in the UK.
Similarly, the former Vice President described Buhari’s safe return as a happy moment for him as a fellow party member and Nigerians in general.
Atiku said the President’s return at this time would put an end to the uncertainty and the conspiracy theories that attended his absence.
I’ve never been this sick, says President
On his return, President Buhari on Friday 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.
“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including in the military with its ups and downs,” Buhari said at a meeting he had with top government officials led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo shortly after he arrived the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was learnt that the dignitaries that were there to receive the President at the military base had been awaiting his arrival since 3.30am.
Buhari, however, did not spend up to 20 minutes at the air force base in Kaduna as he was airborne at exactly 8am.
Addressing newsmen shortly after seeing off the President, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Barnabas Yusuf-Bala, said the state was elated to have received Buhari hale and hearty.
He said contrary to the insinuations from some quarters, the President was alive and well and had gone to “Abuja to resume work.”
There were top government officials waiting to receive the President by the time his helicopter touched down at the Presidential Villa, Abuja at about 8.42am.
Those already at the helipad include Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Dressed in a dark grey kaftan with cap to match, Buhari looked frail.
He shook hands with all the government officials there to receive him and waved to journalists.
The President and other government officials later moved in a motorcade from the helipad to the First Lady Conference Room, where some other ministers were waiting for them.
The wife of the President, Aisha, was absent at the helipad.
Some women however joined her at the President’s official residence to receive her husband.
Buhari meets with government officials
At the meeting Buhari had with top government officials, he said he could not recall the last time he had blood transfusion.
He said he was grateful to all Nigerians who prayed for his good health.
The President said the support he had received was a testimony that despite the hardship being experienced, Nigerians were in support of the government in its efforts to tackle the country’s challenges.
According to him, the best way he could repay Nigerians for their goodwill was for him to dedicate himself to serving them and protecting their interests.
Although Buhari said he felt better, he gave an indication that he would need to do further follow-ups on his health in few weeks time.
He said, “I am deeply grateful to all Nigerians -Muslims and Christians alike- who have prayed and are continuing to pray for my good health.
“This is a testimony that in spite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the government in its effort to tackle our country’s challenges.
“The best way for me to repay you all is to rededicate myself to serving you, protecting your interests and keeping your trust. I thank you very much.
“I am feeling much better now; there may, however, be need to have further follow-ups within some weeks.”
The President also asked politicians and others who may be planning to send delegations to welcome him home to stay back in their bases and continue to pray for the country.
“Rather than sending delegation upon delegation to Abuja to welcome me, may I appeal to all Nigerians to continue to pray for our country’s unity, progress and prosperity,” he said.
Buhari said he had rested as much as humanly possible and had received the best treatment he could get.
The President also gave an indication that he had blood transfusion and had to be going in and out of laboratories.
“I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion; I couldn’t recall honestly, I can say in my 70 years (sic),” he said.
Buhari identified one of the problems of health care facing Nigerians as self-medication.
He however did not say whether that was responsible for his ill health.
He said, “I think one of our terrible things is self drug administration. We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more.
“Where I visited, they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow everything.
“Having said that, I am pleased that I am back. I am pleased that the Vice President enjoyed this break and he has to do much more this time around.
“Youthfulness and intellect are squarely behind him while age and purely military experience are behind me.
“Let us continue to do the work. Nigeria will continue whether we are here or not.”
Buhari said he deliberately returned on Friday so that he could continue his rest while Osinbajo continued working.
“I deliberately came back towards the weekend so that the Vice President will continue and I will continue to rest,” the President said.
I had a challenging time, Osinbajo says
Earlier in his remarks, Osinbajo had said he had a “very interesting and challenging time” while he held the fort for Buhari as the Acting President.
He thanked the President for the confidence reposed in him by handing over the reins of government to him as Acting President and thanked God for Buhari’s safe return.
Osinbajo said, “Mr. President, I must say that personally, it has been very interesting few days for me. First, I want to thank you very much for the confidence reposed in me, more importantly, you demonstrated belief in our system, which is even more important than anything else.
“For me, I must say that it has been an interesting period going around the nation in borrowed robes.
“I must say I had a very interesting and challenging time but above all, the President gave us the good support.”
Buhari absent at Jumat service inside Aso Rock
However, the President on Friday afternoon did not join Muslim faithful for Jumat service inside a mosque located beside his office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
After his meeting with some government officials at the First Lady Conference Hall, the President retired to his official residence.
Some government officials including Mohammed and Kyari attended the service.
Some civil servants and others, who had hoped to see the President, were disappointed.
Although no reason was given for his absence at the service, it was believed he needed rest after his flight from London.
President’ll transmit letter to NASS Monday -Adesina
In the meantime, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, has said that Buhari will on Monday transmit a letter to the National Assembly, informing the federal lawmakers of his return from vacation.
Adesina disclosed this in a message he posted on Twitter.
The presidential aide said the letter to the National Assembly would make Buhari’s return to work formal.
“PMB will on Monday transmit a letter to the N’ Assembly on his return to the country. That makes his return to work formal, and constitutional,” he wrote.
Also according to a statement by Adesina, the President on Friday called for more concerted efforts in ensuring that all Nigerian children get good education in order to be relevant in a world driven by new technologies.
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