President's extended vacation draws Yar'adua comparison

President Buhari sought an extended vacation from parliament this week, fuelling speculation that he's battling a debilitating ailment

President Muhammadu Buhari and Femi Adesina

That anxiety can partly be explained--in 2010, then President Umaru Yar'adua passed on after concealing the true status of his health.

Yar'adua was flown in from Saudi Arabia where he had gone to treat acute pericarditis (an inflammation of the membrane around the heart) in the dead of the night.

He was pronounced dead on arrival on May 5, 2010, aged 58.

The Nigerian Presidency has said there is no basis for comparison between the Yar'adua and Buhari cases.

Spokesperson Femi Adesina and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo have said at different times that President Buhari is hale and hearty and is only waiting for test results from his Doctors at the residence of the Nigerian High Commission in London.

Official Presidency sources also say the President is not in any hospital in the UK.

Osinbajo said he had a long conversation with Buhari this week.

"The President is hale and hearty. I spoke to him just this afternoon and we had a very long conversation", Osinbajo said.

"He's in good shape and we spoke about the protests (embarked upon by Nigerians across the country on the nation's dire economic straits) and I gave him feedback on other issues.

"Just like he said in the letter to the national assembly, he needs to go through a cycle of tests...results..receive medical advice and we expect him very soon", said the acting President.

Spokesperson Adesina said speculation around the health status of the President are unnecessary and a tad irritating.

Adesina who admitted he hasn't spoken to the President, told the media that:"You know, when a 74-year-old man does tests, they’ll do it comprehensively. So, that’s what they are doing. And if there’s a course of treatment recommended, they can start immediately. And you know when you start some course of treatment, you need to complete it".

Adesina added that a lot of Nigerians are "going to be pleasantly surprised when they see the President", who he said "will be back in the country, sooner than people expect."

The spokesperson put rumours of the President's worsening health condition down to mischief-makers.

"There’s no law that makes it mandatory for him to address anybody. He left the country, you saw him walk into his plane, and he told you the day he’ll be back. That day had not even elapsed when all sorts of theories, rumours and conjectures began flying all over the place", he said.

The Nigerian Senate has also said it has received the President's letter seeking an extension of his vacation.

President Buhari sought a 10-day vacation in January.

A statement announcing the vacation said he was going to use his time in the UK to undergo routine medical check-ups.

Buhari has been treating an infected ear, but this time, no ailment was disclosed to the public.

He was due back in Nigeria on February 6 until his letter asking for an extension, found its way around cyberspace on a warm Sunday afternoon.


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