Lagos, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has given a timeline that he may resign by a specific time if he doesn’t recover from his undisclosed illness.
Buhari left Nigeria for London on May 7 to attend to his failing health and since then, his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has been acting in his stead.
Speaking with INDEPENDENT on Tuesday, a credible source in the presidency said though the president has made immense improvements in the last couple of weeks, he was reported to have told his close aides recently that if he doesn’t recover by a specific date, he will tender his resignation letter.
He, however, failed to disclose the specific date or month given by the president.
He added that contrary to the views by many, the president is not desperate to cling on to power but he is being advised by doctors to continue with the treatment while Acting President Yemi Osinbajo presides over the affairs of the nation.
He also confirmed that though some aides of the president tried to bypass the acting president in order to get to the president, the president directed them to relate with the acting president who is presently in charge of the affairs of the nation.
He attested to the fact that the decision of the president to direct all state matters to the acting president has greatly contributed to the remarkable progress the president has made in the last couple of weeks.
“The president is not desperate to cling on to power if his health cannot carry him. I can tell you authoritatively that he has given a timeline that if he doesn’t recover fully on a specific date, he will file in his resignation letter and if you know President Buhari very well, he meant what he said.
“That is why Nigerians who love the president and his efforts in restoring Nigeria’s lost glory should continue to pray for his quick recovery. It will be to our disservice if he dies as some people are wishing him”, he said.
Another reliable source told INDEPENDENT that when the president was transmitting the second letter of his medical vacation to the leadership of the National Assembly intimating it of his trip to London, he wanted to transmit a letter of resignation but a retired General from Taraba prevailed on him not to do so.
Femi Adesina had said “the length of the president’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors” after transmitting “letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 constitution”.
Also speaking with INDEPENDENT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, former Minister of Transport and member of the Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said it doesn’t serve anybody’s interest if President Buhari resigns. According to him, instead of demanding for the president’s resignation, Nigerians should pray for him to return and do his job.
He said the PDP wants Buhari to recover quickly and seek re-election in 2019, adding that the PDP will trounce the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) if it presents the president as its flagbearer in the 2019 elections.
“I don’t think we should compound Nigeria’s problem by asking for the president’s resignation. First of all, it is not of his own making that he is sick. All of us must have been sick at one time or the other. If we want to help Nigeria succeed, let us pray for him to recover and come back to do his job.
“We in the PDP are not bothered by his resignation at all. We are even praying that he should come back and re-contest in 2019 because we know that we are going to beat him. But it doesn’t serve anybody’s interest to ask him to resign. Those doing so are just wasting their time”, he said.
A pro-democracy group, ‘Concerned Nigerians’, in Abuja on Monday held a rally, where they demanded the immediate resumption or resignation of the president, lamenting that Buhari’s 92-day absence was unacceptable.
The group, which was led by Deji Adeyanju, said it was unfortunate that but for few cabals, the president’s true state of health is unknown to Nigerians who voted him into office, urging that he resigns honourably.
It also launched tirade at the National Assembly, accusing the parliament of complicity in the whole drama for not deeming it necessary to demand a medical inquiry into the true state of health of the president.
In his remarks, Balarabe Musa, a former governor of Kaduna State, said Nigerians should allow the National Assembly decide on the way forward.
“As far as I am concerned, this should be left to the National Assembly because we don’t know the truth. We believe the National Assembly should know the truth and tell Nigerians the truth and what they can do because the constitution has given them the power to act under the present circumstances.
“So, my advice is let us pressure the National Assembly to do what they are required to do in accordance with the constitution”, he said.
Police Tear-Gas, Disperse Anti-Buhari Protesters
Protesters calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign or resume duties on Tuesday were tear-gassed and dispersed by anti-riot policemen who stormed the Unity Fountain, Abuja venue of their daily sit-out.
Many of the protesters were injured with some collapsing after inhaling the tear-gas fired by the police.
Charly Boy, an entertainer and activist collapsed at the Unity Fountain after inhaling teargas from canisters fired at protesters by the anti-riot policemen.
On Monday, a coalition of civil society groups under the aegis of ‘Concerned Nigerians’ hit the streets to demand that the president either resume office or resign.
The group vowed to continue their protests at the Unity Fountain in Abuja until the president either returns or resigns.
The incident occurred about 9: 00a.m when the protesters converged on the Unity Fountain to strategise on the day’s schedule of activities.
The protesters had barely settled down when a combined team of heavily armed anti-riot policemen and soldiers swooped on them aided by sniffer dogs and water canon trucks. Before they realised what was happening the detachment drenched them with water just as they fired tear-gas canisters in a bid to disperse them.
One of the protesters, who identified himself as Jude Ndukwe, expressed shock and displeasure on the way and manner they were attacked like common criminals.
According to him, “The police allowed us to converge on the venue and began to fire tear-gas canisters at us at close range and many of our members were unconscious and were rushed to the federal staff clinic. Despite the fact that we are harmless. This is the height of brutality under a democratic dispensation. It is unacceptable, condemnable and shameful. This has shown the unbending characteristics of this government and we have always been saying it that this government is a dictatorship and tyranny under the guise of democratic rule.”
Jude described the attack as a turning point that will further boost the morale of the group to intensify its agitation for open governance, adding that rather than being deterred by the hostile posture of the administration, the movement would push ahead with the struggle until success is achieved.
He reminded state agencies that intimidation and brutality have never been used to quell any struggle in any part of the world but instead fuel it.
Ndukwe described the action of the police as “undemocratic, uncivilised and shameful”.
Also one of the victims, Theophilus Abu Magada, who was receiving treatment at Federal Staff Clinic located at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, expressed disappointment at the government he said does not respect the rule of law.
“We had a successful protest yesterday and today we decided to have a one-hour sit-out at the Unity Fountain. We had just sat down to discuss the way forward and all of a sudden the police water canon began to spray water on us and one of the police shot the tear-gas into our midst. So, I was unconscious and I never knew how I was brought to the hospital, and it took the intervention of nurses and doctors to revive me”, he said as he narrated his ordeal.
As at time of filing in this report the injured protesters were still receiving treatment at the clinic while the Unity Fountain had been condoned off by the police and soldiers.
INDEPENDENT gathered that two journalists from Silverbird Television were also attacked by the police.
Senate Defends Buhari
Meanwhile, those advocating the removal of ailing President Muhammadu Buhari over his ill-health leading to his absence from work for 93 days will not get the support of the Senate in the demand for the removal of the president.
This indication was made public by the Senate in a statement on Tuesday in which it said clearly that the president did not violate any part of the Nigerian constitution by staying in London for more than three months on medical tourism.
The Senate noted that it will not be part of the plot to remove the president, because he has not committed any crime.
The Senate was reacting to protest by a group calling on the president to either resume duties or resign.
The Senate came to the defence of the ailing president by telling the protesters that the call for the removal of President Buhari was baseless, because he has not run foul of the law.
The Senate described the demand for the removal of the president based on his ill-health as “unreasonable demands” while it noted that the protests by the pro-democracy group were needless, but merely “heating up the polity”.
The position of the Senate was contained in a statement signed by its spokesman, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Faulting the protesters, the Senate said they “were only creating unnecessary tension in the country and seeking to divert the attention of the presidency from the economic and security issues which are being tackled with vigour”.
Explaining why the call for impeachment of the sick president won’t be adhere to, the Senate noted that President Buhari had complied with the provisions of the nation’s constitution, which stipulated that he must handover to the vice president and duly inform the two chambers of the legislature about his medical vacation.
“The president has broken no law and therefore we do not see any justification for this diversion and noise making.
“The sponsors are merely seeking cheap publicity at the expense of the peace of Nigeria. We, in the National Assembly, are satisfied that there is no vacuum.
“The Federal Government is working. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is providing the required leadership. So, there is no reason for the protests”, the Senate said.
The upper chamber noted that the only thing that should be done now is for the populace to pray for the quick recovery of the president so that he can return on time.
“All Nigerians now should focus on praying for the safe return of the president”, the Senate said.
“We in the Senate are happy about the report by the governors and party leaders who recently visited President Buhari in London and we know he will soon return to continue to provide leadership to our people and the rest of Africa.
“We, therefore, call on the protesters to stop all these demonstrations and let their sense of patriotism overshadow the zeal for activism by joining other Nigerians to pray for the president, the acting president and Nigeria as a country at this critical period”, Abdullahi stated.