The growing anxiety over President Muhammadu Buhari’s health in the United Kingdom (UK) heightened on Sunday when he wrote to the National Assembly requesting for an extension of his stay.
Buhari was scheduled to return to Abuja yesterday after about two weeks in London for vacation and medical checkup. He was scheduled to resume work today.
But in a press statement yesterday evening, the President’s Media Adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said that Buhari had informed the National Assembly that he would stay back for some test results recommended by his doctors.
He was however silent on when actually the President would be returning to the country.
In the statement, Adesina stated: “President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly today, February 5, 2017, informing of his desire to extend his leave in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors.
“The President had planned to return to Abuja this evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning. The notice has since been dispatched to the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives.
“Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigerians for their concern, prayers and kind wishes,” he said.
Signs that President Buhari would not return today as scheduled began to show earlier in the day when the relevant Presidency officials were not specific to journalists regarding the time of the arrival of the president.
It was also observed that the protocol and security units of the Presidency which usually did not take such matters lightly, had not made any visible arrangement to receive the President at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Buhari departed Abuja for London on January 19, 2017 after informing the National Assembly that he intended going on a short vacation during which he would also undergo a medical checkup and return on February 6, 2017.
Adesina had then issued a statement saying that “President Muhammadu Buhari leaves for the United Kingdom today on a short leave, which is part of his annual vacation. He is expected to resume work on February 6, 2017.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has held sway since then, despite equally wild rumours that he was under pressure to step down in order not to succeed Buhari, should he become incapable of returning safe and sound from London.
Amidst the apprehension and rumours, some Nigerians have demanded for Buhari’s public appearance in London or at least, an address to assure them of his health status.
However, no such thing has happened except some of his pictures with visitors, including his wife, put out on the social media by unofficial sources.
While these pictures have become disputed by some Nigerians and now issues of controversy, the Presidency or the Federal Government has not reacted to them.
Since Thursday the indications were there that President Buhari would not return as stated in his earlier letter to the National Assembly.
It was learnt that the development informed the visit of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara meeting with Osinbajo.
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, was also with Osinbajo on Thursday night where they were looking at how to go around the problem of Buhari not returning as scheduled, considering that he wrote saying he would be out of the country for specific days.
As the social media tumbled over, churning out speculations on the President’s actual health status, Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Buhari came out later in the day to clarify the President’s health status.
Speaking to Seun Okinbaloye on Channels TV (Sunday Politics), Femi Adesina made the following clarifications:
‘’When the President was leaving on January 19, we said he was going to take a vacation and also do some medical check-ups. The essence of medical check-up is to find out the state of your being, and that test can mean a lot of things.
The situation now is that series of tests have been conducted and his doctors have advised that he stays back so that the cycle can be completed.
Adesina explained futher that: “there’s medical-doctor-patient-confidentiality. No doctor will reveal his patient’s state of health to you as an individual”.
Asked if he is aware of the President’s health status, Adesina said: “I am not aware of the President’s health status, but if there is anything serious, the onus lies on the President to disclose or not to disclose. But, when his doctor gives him a clean bill of health, he will return.
“I am sure it will get to a point when the President has to disclose the status of his health if it needs to be disclosed; if it is something serious to be disclosed”.
Agency reports at the weekend claimed that the President is suffering from a severe condition called Meniere’s Disease.
Meniere’s disease is caused by improper fluid drainage, immune disease, allergies, viral infection, genetic predisposition, or head trauma.
Experts said people suffering from the disease condition experience the following symptoms: regular episodes of vertigo, which is when a person feels as if he/she or the objects around them are moving when they are not.
“Often, it feels like a spinning or swaying movement. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulties in walking,” the experts said.
Other symptoms would show incidences of falling down, as the individual might lose balance and fall as though he/she has epilepsy; hearing loss, which in Meniere’s disease, may come and go, particularly early on. Eventually, most people have some permanent hearing loss.
There is also ringing in the ear (Tinnitus): Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, roaring, whistling or hissing sound in your ear; feeling of fullness in the ear.
According to the experts, Meniere’s disease has no cure. The worse of this is the epileptic-like seizures that accompany the disease.
“During an acute attack like this, patients are advised to lie down on a firm surface, stay as motionless as possible, with eyes open and fixed on a stationary object.
“Patients are also advised not try to drink or sip water immediately, as this might lead to vomiting,” they said.