Sunday, 20 August 2017

Buhari’s Return Raises UncertaintiesOver Cabinet Reshuffle, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari (left) with his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo, during his arrivalfrom London medical trip at the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Saturday. PHOTO: TUNDE OLANIYIPresident Muhammadu Buhari, touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 4:35pm on Saturday, ending 103 days of medical vacation in the United Kingdom.Buhari’s return would also put a temporary stop to insinuations regarding his health and all the intrigues that characterised his administration in the last hundred days.Although his proposed return has been in public domain, following cheering reports from those privileged to have visited him in London, the intrigues thatplayed out within the polity during hisabsence may spring up more surprises when he finally settles down to the business of governance.The return has however raised hopes and uncertainties in the Villa, as speculations were rife last night that the long awaited cabinet reshuffle would top the agenda as he settles down this week.Other issues, according to close sourceson top of the agenda that would require definitive action within these fewdays are the resurgence in bombings by the Boko Haram sect, crisis in the education sector and growing decline in confidence in government occasioned by rising prices of foodstuffs, with the resultant impoverishment of Nigerians.Already, close aides and some of the ministers have started consultations with some influential Nigerians closer to Buhari to either retain or are seeking juicy appointments.There are also strong indications that the relative progress made in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the Supreme Court verdict would trigger some changes in the All Progressive Congress (APC) caucus.Buhari left the shores of Nigeria on May 7, 2017 after receiving 82 Chibok girls freed through a bargain deal fromthe den of the Boko Haram sect.He also transmitted power to Yemi Osinbajo his deputy, in line with constitutional provisions.The Acting President has also had causeto be praised by Buhari and Nigerians for having steered state affairs with total commitment and diligence.Since then he has kept himself abreastwith developments within the Nigerian polity.He is expected to make a state broadcast to Nigerians on Monday, August 21, where he might unveil some fresh agenda for his administration anchored on tackling corruption, insecurity and diversification of the economy.He is also expected to participate in the United Nations General Assembly onPeace and Security coming up by September this year.But it is not clear whether he would personally attend the summit or delegate his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo.Ahead of his public broadcast on Monday, there are also insinuations thatpart of the surprises that the President might spring up in the comingdays may be to reshuffle his cabinet.He may also seal the fate of Secretaryto the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal who was fingered in illegal contract scams involving the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) for internally displaced persons.Another person that he may wield the big stick on is the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ayodele Oke alleged to have siphoned about $43.4million in a porch home in Ikoyi Lagos State.The strong comeback of the PDP, following the recent Supreme Court judgment restoring control of the party to Ahmed Markafi may elicit some changes in the APC caucus, according to some inner sources.Also, the source hinted that now that Buhari is back, the APC congress which has been pending for months may comeon stream.Intrigues That Trailed Buhari’s AbsenceWhile Buhari was away, the National Assembly passed the 2017 budget and inserted projects not originally captured in the budget.While the executive and legislature threw banters at each other over the development, the question of who assents to the bill also cropped up.Osinbajo later assented to the budgetary provisions after receiving approval from the President who was then recuperating abroad.The opposition camp, spearheaded by Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayosealso raised allegations of the Presidentbeing on life support and therefore should resign his appointment and handover to his vice.The polity was also heated up when a group of Northern youths under the guise of Arewa Consultative Forum gaveIgbos living in Northern part of the country an October 1, deadline to vacate their clime.The development mounted pressure on Osinbajo who was forced to intervene by having series of meetings with stakeholders from all the regional blocs.The two ministers he appointed before he left Nigeria, Stephen Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan were also left on the edge when assigning their portfolios was initially stalled by the Federal Government.History Of Buhari’s Medical VacationBuhari’s first active year in office was frost with major challenges before he took ill.When he assumed office in May 2015, theinitial delays associated with appointinghis cabinet members several months after clinching power elicited criticisms from a section of the country.His health challenge became obvious when he first took a six-day vacation to attend to an infection he had with his ears from February 5 to 10th 2016.He handed over power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo to act in his stead, afterwriting the National Assembly.Similarly, on June 5th, 2016, President Buhari proceeded on another short medical vacation, leaving his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina to weather all the storms from critics back home in Nigeria.Adesina had in reaction to questions raised regarding the president’s leave and rationale for the medical tourism said the action fell in line with Section145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).On January 19, 2017 Buhari also proceeded on yet another trip after resolving the stalemate in the Gambia, where Yahaya Jammeh was recalcitrant to leave the stage for Adama Barrow.He returned in March this year to reveal to Nigerians that he had ‘never been so sick’ in his entire life.His fragile health was again brought tothe fore when he began missing important public engagements including the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.He returned back to London again on May 7, 2017 following protest by some concerned Nigerians that the country was being shortchanged as a result of his poor health.Protests That Greeted His Absence FromOfficeAt the exact date when the President clocked 90 days in London, a sensational group “Ourmumudondo” led by ace musician Charles Oputa,aka Charly Boy led a protest to the villa demanding the resumption or resignationof the president.The protest almost turned sour when the group took the protest to Wuse Market, prompting another round of debate within the polity.How The President Was Received On ArrivalAt the presidential wing of the airport,the President however did not inspect the guard of honours mounted by the Presidential Guard, contrary to the normal protocol.Top government functionaries spotted at the airport to welcome Buhari included Bauchi State Governor, Muhammed Abubakar; Imo State Governor,Rochas Okorocha; Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul Aziz Yari; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje; Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar; Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello and Minister of Defence, Dan Ali.Others were the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mungunu; Senior SpecialAssistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri Erewa; his media aides, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu andMinister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.All the military service chiefs as well as Director General, Department of State Security Services, Lawal Daura were also spotted at the airport.What Buhari’s Return Portends For EconomyZamfara State Governor, Yari said Buhari’s recuperation and homecoming would impact on the economy in no small measure.“It will impact seriously because is justlike a body when the head is cut off so the body will not make any meaningful achievement. The fact that he has a vibrant Vice President who canwork effectively when he is not arounddoes not mean you can compare the difference between when he is around and when the two of them are around.It will impact on the economy and it will impact on the security, it means somany things will change,” the NGF Chairman stated.Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje also shared similar views with Yari, saying, “Nigerians are happy and weare happy. We did say when we visited that he was doing better and will soonreturn. It will impact on the socio economic activities in the country because now that the number decision maker is now around. He and his deputywill take decision together and things will be done in a quicker way. We will see improvement.”Scene At The AirportBuhari was putting on black caftan overall with a grey cap to match, uponhighlighting from the plane, he was attracted to the spectators of FAAN who gathered to catch a glimpse of him, he was first seen waving to them.He did not inspect the regular guard ofhonours even though they were presentat the airport.He also ignored the chopper aircraft and mounted the exotic cars to convey him to the Villa.APC Statement On The Return Of President BuhariThe All Progressives Congress (APC) welcomes the President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari back home to the country after his medical vacation to the United Kingdom.The Party thanked the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for his competent leadership in the absence of President Buhari and especially commends him forhis effort to unite the country and drive the recovery of the national economy.The APC also thanked all Nigerians whohad prayed ceaselessly for the speedyrecovery and safe return of the President, assuring them that the APC-led Federal Government is poised to fulfill all the electoral promises the Party made to Nigerians.Daura Residents Jubilate Over Buhari’s ReturnResidents of Daura in Katsina State are in an upbeat mood over reports of President Buhari’s return to Nigeria after his medical vacation abroad.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that those interviewed on Saturday expressed gratitude to Allah for the Presidents recovery and return to Nigeria.Alhaji Salisu Haro, a civil servant, said the President’s return represents a rayof hope for the nation and prayed that Nigerians would support him to deliver quality leadership that would take the country to the next level