By Chinelo Obogo PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday hosted Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in London, the United Kingdom, where he is on extended vacation. Saraki and Dogara’s visit came a few days after the President equally hosted ex-Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu and former chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande. It came as anxiety mounts over the state of health of President Buhari. Others who also met Buhari yesterday are Yusuf Lasun, Deputy Speaker, and Ahmed Lawan, Senate Leader, who had travelled with Saraki and Dogara. Efforts to get what President Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly discussed at the meeting failed, as both Saraki and Dogara kept mum on the matter. A picture of the meeting released last night showed Buhari, Saraki and Dogara in smiles.
This development is coming barely three days after reports that United States President Donald Trump spoke to President Buhari by telephone. The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said, in a statement, the conversation between the two leaders was cordial, as Buhari congratulated Trump on his election. He said the two Presidents discussed ways to improve cooperation in the fight against terrorism through provision of equipment. He said: “Trump assured President Buhari of the US’ readiness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria, in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism. He also invited Buhari to Washington at a mutually convenient date.” Shortly after the two leaders’ phone discussion, professor of international law and jurisprudence at the University of Lagos, Prof. Akin Oyebode, said the need for President Buhari to speak to Nigerians had become more necessary, since he was able to communicate with President Trump.
He said silence could lead to questioning of the President’s credibility, but that it would be soothing for him to speak to Nigerians. “The least he can do for Nigerians is to either come back quickly or address Nigerians by teleconferencing or Skype or whatever. If the President can find time to talk to Trump, then he should be able to talk to us,” he said. Buhari commenced a 10-day medical leave last month and transferred power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo before he left for the UK. He was scheduled to return on February 6, 2017, but wrote a letter on February 5 intimating the Senate of his decision to extend his leave indefinitely, pending the release of results of his medical tests. Part of the letter to the Senate read: “Further to my letter dated January 18, 2017, in which I notified the distinguished Senate of taking part of my annual leave, during my leave, I took the opportunity to have routine check-ups and consult my long-standing doctors in London. In the course of the routine examinations, certain test results indicated the need for a course of medications and further appointments have been scheduled. “I am, therefore, notifying the distinguished Senate that I am extending my leave until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out.” Last week, Saraki announced on his Twitter handle, @bukolasaraki, he spoke with the President on phone, saying Buhari was in high spirits. He tweeted: “Happy to have spoken with the President on Wednesday night and he was in high spirits. He was in good spirits and spoke about my working late into the night, as usual. “ Dogara also said he had a telephone conversation with Buhari, who he said called him last week Wednesday night.
The Speaker’s spokesperson, Turaki Hassan, said, in a statement, both men talked the previous day by 9pm. He said the President was pained by the suffering endured by most Nigerians and has resolved not to let the events of last year repeat themselves. Earlier last week, Acting President Osinbajo told reporters he spoke to President Buhari and that he was “hale and hearty.” He said: “I spoke to him just this afternoon and we had a fairly long conversation. He is in good shape and very chatty.”