The presidency has told Pulse that stories of an advance team flying ahead of Buhari as he prepares to return home, are unfounded.
At least two national dailies and a clutch of online news outfits, did report on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, that in anticipation of Buhari’s return to Nigeria “next week”, an advance party from London is already in the country.
Buhari has not set foot in his homeland for some 90 days now.
The Nigerian leader left Nigeria for an open-ended medical vacation on May 7, 2017; after constitutionally handing over the reins of leadership to second in command Yemi Osinbajo.
Governors across the partisan divide in Nigeria, returned from trips to London only recently.
The Governors said the president was in fine fettle and will be returning to Nigeria “very soon” once his doctors had handed him the all clear.
Their reports appeared to corroborate those of acting president Osinbajo who reportedly had an hour long meeting with Buhari in London on July 11, before breezing back home to chair a federal executive council meeting hours later.
'AIRCRAFT DISAPPEARS FROM HANGAR'
Amid reports that the president will be returning to Nigeria in the “next couple of days”, a few platforms went to town with stories that the presidential aircraft had suddenly disappeared from its Stansted Airport hangar in the UK; and was ostensibly Nigeria bound.
However, during exclusive conversations with Pulse, two top ranking officials in the presidency dismissed the reports with a wave of the hand.
“Look...look...when the president is going to arrive, we will make a statement. You guys have to do less of this asking us to confirm speculations”, one of the president’s aides who pleaded anonymity for this story, scolded.
He added that; “Has the president travelled before without you guys knowing where? When the president is going to come back, you’ll get an official statement.
“All the speculations concerning the president’s arrival are unnecessary. When he’s going to return, Mr. Femi Adesina will make a statement. If he hasn’t made a statement, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about".
The aide also said an advance team for public officials is only put in place for foreign trips and not for homecomings.
'ADVANCE TEAM' DEFINED
“What is an advance team when someone is coming back to his country?”, the aide asked rhetorically, before going on to render a lecture:
“It is when you are going abroad that you need an advance team. Do you understand? An advance team precedes you on trips abroad, so that when you arrive, they would have made preparations for you as the principal. When you are going home, you don’t need an advance team. Do you get the logic?
“Where are you guys getting all these rumours from? Someone took a photo without any indication...he just put up an old photo there...when the president is coming back, which is going to be soon by the way, Mr Adesina will issue a statement…”
When Pulse rang the mobile of Adesina who is the president’s special adviser on media, we expectedly got very little.
“There’s nowhere our president goes that you don’t get a statement. That’s a tradition whether he’s going out or he’s coming in”, Adesina said curtly.
“So, if the president is coming back, there’s going to be a statement. That’s all I’ll say. Thank you”, Adesina said, before cutting off the line abruptly.
ONE MEDICAL TRIP TOO MANY
This is president Buhari’s third medical vacation within a two year span.
In June of 2016, the president embarked on a trip to London to treat an “infected ear”.
In January of 2017, Buhari left Nigeria yet again for another medical vacation in London. He returned way beyond schedule on March 10, 2017.
Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who first announced that Buhari was critically ill during the 2015 presidential campaign, has staunchly maintained that the Nigerian leader has become increasingly incapacitated to govern Africa’s most populous country.