The presidency has explained why politicians and other individuals are now visiting President Muhammadu Buhari on a solidarity visit and how the visiting delegates are selected.
Though there are speculations that President Buhari will soon return home from his medical vacation in the United Kingdom, a selected number of governors left Nigeria on Tuesday, July 25, to pay the recuperating President a visit.
Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari is leading the delegation of governors which also includes Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Umar Gandoje (Kano), Kassim Shettima (Borno), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Abiola Ajumobi (Oyo).
During a press conference with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, explained the purpose of the delegation’s visit.
According to them, President Buhari had initially barred politicians and other individuals from visiting him in London, but has changed his mind on the decision due to “the change in circumstances.” Buhari was quoted as saying this was the proper time for him to receive delegations rather than when he was indisposed.
While addressing journalists alongside Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Shehu Garba stated the mission of state governors’ visit saying it is “a goodwill visit and there is nothing more than that.”
“I believe Nigerians in various positions have yearned to go and meet the President and at some point, this obviously has not been permitted.
“But given the change in circumstances, you can see that it is coming from London itself and the President is welcoming it.
“It is a goodwill visit. As a cultural people, we visit people leaving the hospital and I am sure the President himself will be delighted to see people coming from the six geopolitical zones to convey the goodwill of Nigerians,” Shehu said.
When asked why the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose who is a strong critic of Buhari, was not included in the delegation, Femi Adesina said the question should be directed to the NGF that did the selection.
When also asked why the President preferred such visits to broadcasting a message to Nigerians, Adesina said that was Buhari’s choice.
“It is a question of what he (the President) prefers and this is what he prefers for now. He would rather receive that delegation and that is what is happening. If the President opts for address, he will do it,” Adesina said.
Contrary to speculations that the President’s media handlers were not part of the delegation, Shehu clarified that the President’s Personal Photographer, Bayo Omoboriowo, would be part of the delegation.
“They say a picture conveys more than a thousand words. Bayo will be there and I think it will be more beneficial to Nigerians than if the Special Adviser was on that trip without a cameraman,” he stated.
Justifying the solidarity visits to the President at a time when he is said to be recuperating, Adesina said:
“It is the right time for the visit like Mallam Garba said earlier. When somebody has recovered or something or the other happened, it is in our culture for us to visit such a person.
“So, this is the right time because the news is that he is recovering and recovering well.”
Adesina, however, insisted that he could not give a timeline on the President’s return. “The information at our disposal is that the President will return as soon as his doctors give him the go ahead.