President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on another medical trip abroad – the third since he assumed office on May 29, 2015.
Buhari departed Abuja on Thursday for the United Kingdom, a trip said to be a combination of a vacation and a medical check-up.
The President is scheduled to be away for 10 days, while his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will hold the forte as the Acting President of Nigeria.
Buhari is expected back in Nigeria on February 6, 2017, his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, said in a statement.
Before he boarded the aircraft at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, Buhari reminded anxious journalists that there was nothing strange about his trip.
“What’s wrong with going on vacation? Didn’t I go last year at the same time?” the President queried in response to reporters’ questions.
In his remarks, Adesina said the President needed to rest and do his routine medical checkup abroad, although goodwill and prayers for him would not be out of place at this time.
According to him: “The President is going to rest. You know that God did the work of creation in six days and on the seventh day, He rested. So, if God needed to rest, how much more a human being.”
“The President is just going to rest and the statement we have released is straightforward. He will go on this leave and during the leave he will do routine medical checkups.”
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing (to worry about). We need to show goodwill towards our leaders, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, who is working to give Nigeria a new footing and orientation.”
Adesina said that, “in line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President of the Senate and the Speaker, House of Representatives, have been duly communicated.”
Adesina added that during Buhari’s absence, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will perform the functions of the Office of the President.
Osinbajo is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) and is due back in Abuja tomorrow.
President Buhari had a couple of days before the vacation scaled down his official activities, culminating in the cancellation of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday.
Buhari also held a brief meeting with the country’s Defence and Service Chiefs before departing for the UK, a meeting which military chiefs insisted had to do with enforcing the decision of leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to force the recalcitrant President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh out of office, having lost a re-election bid.
Asked what the parley was about, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, said: “The meeting was to give Mr. President an update on our operations within and outside the country, especially our involvement with the ECOWAS standby force that is being inducted into Senegal which has to do with the issue of mandate ensuring that the president-elect of The Gambia is sworn in.
“The operational mandate in The Gambia is in line with the decision of the ECOWAS Heads of States and governments that the ECOWAS standby force be put in place to ensure that the decision of the people of The Gambia is respected”.
Buhari also notified the National Assembly that he would proceed on a 10-day vacation, beginning from Monday January 23 to Monday, February 6, 2017.
This was contained in a letter read by the Senate President Bukola Saraki during plenary.
According to President Buhari, the vacation would be a working leave.
The President said that the short leave of 10 days formed part of his annual vacation for 2017.
The letter stated that Osinbajo would act as President during the period.