There are strong indications that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum may send some governors to the United Kingdom to visit President Muhammadu Buhari, except the President returns home between now and next week.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the plan to send a delegation to the President was part of the discussion at the last governors’ meeting in Abuja, which ended in the early hours of Thursday.
An impeccable source at the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the governors also decided to send a goodwill message to the President’s family in Nigeria.
The source, however, hinted that the President might return home very soon based on the information available to the governors.
He explained that representatives of the Governors’ Forum would have embarked on the UK trip immediately but for the information pointing towards the President’s return anytime from now.
A governor, who was at the meeting, who also spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said that the decision was taken at the governors meeting in Abuja on Thursday night.
He said the governors supported the idea after they were informed about the visit of the leadership of the National Assembly to the President during the week.
He said, “We will visit the President if he doesn’t come back in the next one week. We decided to do this after the leaders of the National Assembly led by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki visited the President.
“It was a decision supported by all of us, including members of the Peoples Democratic Party, which is the main opposition party in the country.”
Buhari had few weeks ago, written to the Senate to inform the legislators that he would proceed on medical vacation for 10 days and that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would act on his behalf as President during his absence.
The President was expected to resume work on Monday, February 6, 2017, but he again wrote a letter to the National Assembly a day before, informing the lawmakers that he needed to extend his leave in order to complete and get the results of some tests recommended by his doctors.
Since Buhari’s departure, some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress have been paying visits to him at the Abuja House in London, UK. Such APC chieftains include: Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan; Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and former interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande.
However, some Peoples Democratic Party federal lawmakers have questioned the exclusion of opposition members in the National Assembly delegation that recently paid Buhari a visit in London.
The opposition lawmakers expressed disappointment with the exclusion of PDP members in the delegation even as one of the party’s members – Ike Ekweremadu – is the Deputy Senate President.
When one of our correspondents sought to know if governors elected on the platform of the PDP would be willing to send representatives to the UK to visit the President, its Chairman, Governor Ayo Fayose, said there was nothing wrong in visiting the President.
The Ekiti State Governor added that he was willing to visit Buhari in the Uk if he does not return soon.
He, however, said the PDP governors belong to the NGF and would take instructions from the governors’ body.
He said, “PDP or APC governors’ forum is merely political. We all belong to the NGF and we will go by the decision of the governors’ forum. As a person, and speaking for the PDP governors, we support the call to visit the President in the UK.
“The health of the President should not be politicised. Anybody can fall sick, whether old or young. The President’s handlers are the ones causing confusion and creating room for rumours. They should have told Nigerians what was wrong with the President.
“We pray for the President to be strong so that he can return home on time to perform the functions Nigerians elected him to perform.
“It doesn’t matter what party is in government, constructive criticisms should not amount to wishing anybody dead. We wish our President well and our prayers are with him. And as a party, the PDP wishes the President well.”
The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, also said that there was nothing wrong if PDP governors chose to visit Buhari in the UK.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Christian Ita, who spoke on behalf of his boss, said as President of Nigeria, there should be no special political colouration of such a visit.
He said, “If the PDP governors are going to visit the President as a group, Ayade will not be opposed to it because President Buhari is the President of all Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation. Again, you know that Ayade has a special relationship with the President.”
Also, the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, said there was nothing wrong if any governor decided to visit the President.
Mimiko, who spoke through the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, said nobody prayed for the President to die.
He said, “Nobody is happy about the present condition of Mr. President and if anybody wants to show him love by visiting him in London, it is not bad.”
Similarly, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday said it was needless for anybody to politicise the alleged ill-health of President Buhari.
Okowa, who is a member of the PDP, spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, stating that it was the duty of all Nigerians to pray for the good health of their leaders irrespective of his political party or religion.
He enjoined Nigerians to pray for the quick recovery and return of President Buhari so that he could fix the daunting challenges facing the country.
He said, “First of all, we should recognise that President Muhammadu Buhari is the President of all Nigerians irrespective of the political party. If the President is not feeling fine, it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to pray for him and wish him well. It is not wise for anybody to politicise the sickness of Mr. President.
“Whether an APC chieftain or PDP chieftain visits him, what is important is that they have gone to show love to our President.
However, the Director General of the NGF, Mr. Bayo Okauru, said he was not aware of the alleged proposed visit.
Okauru said, “I’m not aware that such an issue was raised or discussed by the governors. If they plan to visit, it is their right but I’m not aware.”
Efforts to get the Chairman of the NGF, Alhaji Abubakar Yari, were not successful as calls to his telephone did not go through. Also he had not responded to a text message sent to his phone as of the time of sending this report.