Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to speak to Nigerians to refute the rumours going around about his death. The NLC said this in response to a comment by the presidential adviser on media, Femi Adesina, that no one can force Buhari to speak.
Mr. Adesina, who is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the president, has in a live interview programme on CNBC Africa said the president can not be compelled to speak.
“The president is in London on vacation. He is not in any hospital and he is not ill.
“When he was travelling last week the statement we put out was that he was going on vacation and during the vacation, he would do a routine medical check-up and nothing has changed from what we put out last week.
“The fact that he is a president, he still has his rights. Compelling him to come out and talk will be infringing on his rights.The president will talk if he wishes to; if he doesn’t wish to, nobody will compel him to talk.
“The truth is that the president is on vacation and he has given a date on when he will return to work.”If anybody has fed something else into the rumour mill that is just what it is – rumour.”
The NLC however, noted that public appearance by the country’s leader would put to rest rumours of his death.
Speaking to The Punch, the General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said:
“In the social media, stories circulate without confirmation; I think that the easiest way is to talk publicly to the nation because the citizens are concerned about their leaders’ whereabouts.
“If there are those who orchestrated rumours and they are not true, the easiest way is for him to reach out to Nigerians through a public appearance and a statement.
“Nigerians have a right to be certain about the health situation of their President and the people who orchestrate rumours and unsubstantiated reports, one would wish for him to call their bluff by publicly addressing the citizens.”
An Executive Secretary of an Anti-corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, faulted the call for Buhari to address the nation. He said:
“I do not subscribe to that. It smacks of mischief from such people. We are Africans. We have cultural discipline on some issues.
“He has done the appropriate thing by handing over to the VP as Acting President. Let us be patient and maintain a sense of decorum and respect to the institution of governance.”
The rumour of the president’s death began flying around over the weekend.
Though the presidency has severally denied the claims, millions of concerned Nigerians and people across the world have gone online to search answers for ‘Is Buhari dead?’ – a phrase that has become the most searched item on Nigerian platforms this week.