The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari addresses Nigerians from the United Kingdom amid ill-health rumours.
Buhari is currently in the UK, where official report says he is vacationing, but multiple media reports claim all is not well with the President’s health, which fuelled his death rumour over the weekend.
The Presidency, however, insists that the President is hale and hearty, backing it with a photograph supposedly showing Buhari in a relaxed mood and watching a Channels Television program. The picture was said to have been taken at his London residence.
On Thursday, January 26, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, however, said the President cannot be compelled to speak from the UK.
Speaking in an interview with CNBC Africa, Adesina reiterated that Buhari is in London on vacation and not in any hospital.
“The fact that he is a President, he still has his rights. Compelling him to come out and talk will be infringing on his rights. The President will talk if he wishes to. If he doesn’t wish to, nobody will compel him to talk.
“The truth is that the President is on vacation and he has given a date on which he will return to work,” Adesina said.
But the NLC argued that the right thing to do is for the President make a public appearance to put the rumours and anxiety in the country to rest.
“In the social media, stories circulate without confirmation; I think that the easiest way is to talk publicly to the nation because the citizens are concerned about their leaders’ whereabouts,” the General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, told Punch.
“If there are those who orchestrated rumours and they are not true, the easiest way is for him to reach out to Nigerians through a public appearance and a statement.
“Nigerians have a right to be certain about the health situation of their President and the people who orchestrate rumours and unsubstantiated reports, one would wish for him to call their bluff by publicly addressing the citizens,” he said.
On the contrary, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), says the President does not need to address Nigerians since the 10-day leave he requested has not elapsed.
According to the TUC President, Mr. Bala Kaigama, Buhari making a public appearance is unnecessary because he demanded a rest and handed over government to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as expected.
He said: “Why do we have to make noise about this? He is coming back; if he were to go and stay for a very long time, it is a different thing. If we have patience, he will come back. We are just being unnecessarily demanding.
“This is somebody who demanded a rest and he has handed over the government to the Vice-President. So our concern is how the VP is handling it; but it his health that has become the issue of the moment.
“But we should allow the old man to have his rest. It is normal for somebody of that age to need rest from time to time. If he goes to rest that does not mean that government will not work now. Let the old man enjoy his rest.
“If he does not come back on the day he is supposed to come, that is when can talk, but for now, let’s allow him to have his rest, why does he have to come and address us? It doesn’t make any sense.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, also denied reports that state Governors are planning to visit Buhari in the UK.
He said the reported visit is absolutely false, adding that it does not make any sense for Governors to visit the President when he is merely observing his leave.
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