President Muhammadu Buhari is back. From broadcasts to signing treaties to hosting ambassadors and leaders of political parties, the president has been putting negative speculations about his current state of health to rest. The message from the villa is that Buhari is fit and ready to carry on as president.
On Friday, he hosted state governors at the presidential villa. Below are takeaways from the meeting.
1. Gov. Ayo Fayose really really does not like this president: And he is not interested in pretending about it. Of the 36 state governors across party lines, only the governor of Ekiti was absent from the meeting. Since the election campaign season where Fayose emerged as the most vociferous attacker of the then APC candidate Buhari, there has been no turning back for the governor. A national newspaper reached out to Fayose yesterday, inquiring why he did not attend the meeting with the president. His response: “I can’t be part of a make believe. I have said it unequivocally that President Buhari is sick and tired. He doesn’t have to be President when his health can no longer carry him. He has become a shield for some cabal that has continuously taken away the right of Nigerians. A leader of an authoritarian government without focus, who only wants power for vendetta. I am not a sycophant. Why and what will be my business in the Villa to further encourage a make believe?”
2. Osinbajo gets deserved praise: There is near unanimous concession that in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo steered the ship of state with commitment, energy and loyalty. President Buhari and the governors took turns to praise Osinbajo. “His effort is commendable. He used his intellect to run all over the place,” the president said. “I congratulated him and I allowed him to come and see me to thank him personally for what he has done.”
3. And how did the president keep up with latest developments in the country, including how his deputy was running all over the place? NTA, of course. “I was seeing Osinbajo 24 hours on NTA,” Buhari said at one point. At another point he said, “I had so much time to watch NTA.” Considering the staunch pro-government bent of the NTA, it is likely that it was the only station he probably could have stomached.
4. A nod to the protesters: Buhari noted and mentioned the #ResignorResume protest aimed at him following his 103 days of absence from the country. He recalled the gathering of protesters in front of Abuja House in London demanding his return home. In part-joke, part-rambling, he had this to say about the protest: “In fact, some groups in London came and sang the national anthem and asked that I should go back home. Indeed I have come back home. I hope those who went there are not stuck there. They should come back and join us.
“Those that are stuck there with Brexit, I hope they have weighed the implications that it won’t affect them, including those that have properties there, those who are not paying tax here. I hope when they sell their properties there they will bring some of the money here. We need it very badly.”
5. Governors get commendation too: Buhari also expressed satisfaction with the performance of state governors. “I am very pleased with the states, you are all doing your best and you are lucky. Your best is proving to be good enough on agriculture and solid minerals. You are succeeding in agriculture because I think people cannot afford foreign food,” he said.
6. “I mean well”: This is perhaps the underlining mantra of this administration. Usually, it is pushed by officials and spokespersons of the government. Yesterday, it was the president pushing it himself. “I mean well for the country. I want Nigerians to live as a united and lovable people,” he said. “My morale has been raised greatly by the love shown to me and the security of the country.”