PARIS, MAY 9, 2017: (DGW) There were strong indications at the weekend that ailing President Muhammadu Buhari may be seriously considering resignation from office given his telling ill health.
The ailing president departed to London Sunday night for follow-up on his medical consultation with his doctors, as disclosed by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement same night. The statement, which was not open as to the date of return of the president, read in part: “He had planned to leave Sunday afternoon but decided to tarry a bit due to the arrival of 82 Chibok girls who arrived Abuja earlier in the day.”
It continued: “The president wishes to assure all Nigerians that there is no cause for worry. He is very grateful for the prayers and good wishes of the people and hopes they would continue to pray for the peace and unity of the nation.
“The length of the president’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors. Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the vice president.
“President Buhari has transmitted letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.”
It is noteworthy that the president has only spent 57 days in Nigeria since his last trip to London for medicals. According to snippets of discussions at last week’s Minna meeting between three former heads of state, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo behind closed doors, Buhari ‘s health problems alongside its attendant fallouts for the country and its restive polity comprised the agenda.
Nigerian Pilot source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said though Buhari had hinted of his willingness to leave office given his failing health, he wanted it done in a very patriotic manner devoid of complications that could destabilise the work of his administration.
So he allowed the former heads of state to have a say in the matter. The resultant Minna meeting was thus a natural follow-up to the foregoing.
The source continued: “They also discussed the alleged willingness of the president to resign from office so as to attend to his health,” adding that “President Buhari had mulled the idea of resignation with the three former leaders in close confidence which necessitated the Niger State impromptu meeting.”
Besides, it was learnt that the two-hour meeting of the troika followed national and offshore concerns epressed over the failing health of the president and its attendant consequences on the economy and related fortunes of the country. “Their meeting was a result of such signals and same expressed by the president himself in confidence to them individually.
They then considered two strong burning issues that must be tidied up before allowing President Buhari to turn in his resignation letter to the National Assembly,” Nigerian Pilot further learnt.
The first of the two issues was who would succeed Buhari should he resign and for how long. The second was what could happen to any vacancy that would be thrown up in the office of the vice president should Professor Yemi Osinbajo step up as Buhari’s successor.
In all, three names featured prominently. They were Osinbajo, current Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and current Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
“Another strong issue discussed at the Minna meeting, according to another credible source, was whether Prof Osinbajo will want reelection after completing the tenure of President Buhari in 2019. The meeting then resolved to meet with the vice president to seal the agreement in a written document under a witness that he will complete the remaining two years and quit to pave way for the emergence of a northern candidate by 2019. That will be when the big news will break for the good of Nigeria,” the source said.
PM is confident that his deputy, Prof Osinbajo, is capable of transforming the country and continuing with the anticorruption fight in the country. He demonstrated his ability when PMB was on vacation,” the source said.
President Buhari, according to the source, “has given the three former leaders the opportunity to select a credible northerner that will deputise Prof Osinbajo and seal a deal with him that he will only complete this term and leave.
“The assignment will be completed before May 29, 2017, when President Buhari will clock two full years in office. The letter will then be made public while Osinbajo will complete the remaining two years and retire,” the source further hinted.
ODD FAVOUR Tambuwal
The Sokoto State governor is considered for the position of vice president because of his youthful age, performance as House of Representatives speaker and governor of Sokoto State, as well as his acceptability in not only the north but across the country while Kwankwaso, who equally performed creditably well as Kano State governor, is fronted by Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, it was learnt that the odds favour Tambuwal for his consistence in his support for Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
“There are no questions about his loyalty to the president and the party. He is also a performing state governor without controversies surrounding him,” Nigerian Pilot was told. For Kwankwaso, based on feelers received by the three former heads of state, “they worry that of late the former Kano governor’s actions have been questionable and may be antithetical to the philosophy of the Buhari administration,” same concern the leaders were said to have expressed about el-Rufai.
“The country needs peace and unity as we coast to 2019 general elections. You know the usual politicking that comes with election season. No good leader, serving or past, that can afford to wish away any untoward consequences should the process heralding the elections is threatened by any form of crisis within the parties and, maybe, in the presidency,” he added.
Another check on a credible source at the Presidential Villa gave credence to our scoop from the Minna meeting. According to the latter who pleaded anonymity, Buhari has made up his mind to resign and he feels fulfilled that his aspiration to rule this country again has been achieved, in addition to the anti-corruption fight and the war against insurgency in the north achieved under his leadership.
“He has also set record as the first Nigerian president to defeat an incumbent and would be happy to be the first president in Africa to resign voluntarily on account of ill health,” he said.
He added: “And apart from the three former leaders, the vice president, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser are the only officers who are said to be fully aware of Buhari’s plan to turn in his resignation.”
President Buhari returned to the country from medicare in London on March 10, 2017, after spending 49 days. Before he returned to London on Sunday, he had not been seen at public functions except at three Jummat (Friday) prayers of late. Also, for three consecutive times, he did not preside over Federal executive Council meetings where key decisions for the country are taken.
Source: Nigerian Pilot