Mixed reactions have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s prolonged absence from Nigeria.
The presidency had announced on January 19 that the president was proceeding on a 10-day vacation and a routine medical checkup in the United Kingdom.
In a letter sent to both arms of the National Assembly, the President said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would act as president pending his return.
But the president, who could not make it back to the country on February 6, transmitted another letter to the Senate requesting extension of time to complete his medical tests in London. In that letter, he did not fix a date of return.
In a chat with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, Nigerians expressed divergent opinions over the president’s absence and acting president Yemi Osinbajo’s performance thus far.
Bayo Adeyinka, a public affairs analyst, said, “I don’t miss Buhari, and truth be told, I’d rather hope that he extends his vacation. We are doing much better in his absence.”
A lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Ebony Oketunmbi, said he was indifferent to Mr. Buhari’s absence from Nigeria.
“I’m indifferent to the president’s absence,” he told PREMIUM TIMES in a chat.
For Isiaka Kehinde, that the world has become a global village means that the president is next door to Nigerians.
Mr. Kehinde, who served as aide to former minister of FCT, Jumoke Akinjide, noted that the acting president is doing fine, too.
“You can only miss what you don’t have. In this world described by McLuhan as a global village, I see PMB being in the next door to us. More so that his able Vice is not found wanting, there is no cause for missing PMB,” he said.
“How many of us even see him in person when he is around?” he added, rhetorically.
Wasiu Sadare, publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Oyo State, said, “Of course, I love him as a person as this informed the decision to work for his victory at the 2015 presidential election.”
Mr. Sadare added that the president has not disappointed Nigerians, considering the rot he met on ground when he took over the mantle of leadership.
“As the president of my country, he has not disappointed considering the magnitude of rot he inherited in the system and what he has been doing to fix the problem. We thank God for a capable Vice President in Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and I wish him the very best,” he said.
The Oyo APC spokesperson, however, said that he misses the president and prays for his quick return to the country always.
“I miss our president and I pray he comes back healthier and stronger soonest to continue the task of rebuilding the country. May his enemies and those of the country not succeed in their evil wishes,” he said.
Akeem Olatunji, on his part, said the president’s absence is not being felt by the people, noting that things had been faring better since he left the country.
“It seems PMB’s absence is not being felt by Nigerians because the economy went bad under his watch while he appeared to be bereft of Ideas,” he said.
Mr. Olatunji, who is also the spokesperson of Accord Party in Oyo State, said it may not be necessary for the president to return to Nigeria any time soon.
“I think the economy and government activities are faring better in his absence, hence it may not be all that necessary for him to come home now.”
Temitope Oyetomi, on his part, said, “If Buhari were here, he won’t do more than Osinbajo is doing. I’d say Osinbajo is giving Buhari a 100% representation. The President can therefore enjoy his vacation as much as he pleases.
“Whenever he chooses to return, he would be welcome,” he added.
Since he left Nigeria for check-up abroad, Mr. Buhari, whose true state of health remains unknown, had been rumoured to have died, especially among young Nigerians on social media.
But presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, on several occasions debunked such rumour, stressing that the president was fine.
“The President wants Nigerians to know that he appreciates their prayers; he appreciates their concerns and their goodwill,” Mr. Adesina said while addressing state house correspondents in February.
“He (president Buhari) has added that there is really no cause to worry,” he added.