The presidency has urged Nigerians to ignore calls for ailing President Muhammadu Buhari to return to work or resign his position.
Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson, said activists who took to the street to protest Mr. Buhari’s prolonged absence have a right to do so, but that they “overstepped their bounds” by trying to force the president’s hands.
“The President has complied 100 per cent with the constitution by handing over power to the Vice-President before proceeding on his vacation,” Mr. Shehu said. “He has not breached any law or the constitution by staying away from office to take care of his health.”
The president has been away in London since May 7, where he’s believed to be receiving treatment for unknown ailments.
Nigerians have demanded specific details about his ailments, a request that his office has continued to rebuff.
Several groups took to the streets in Abuja and London on Monday, demanding his immediate resignation or return to work.
“Someone called himself a president and he disappeared from his country for so many days all while refusing to even tell the citizens what exactly ails him,” Deji Adeyanju, convener of Concerned Nigerians, said. “We cannot continue like this.”
“A country of 180 million people cannot continue like this because of only one man who has become clearly incapacitated by old age,” he added.
Other Nigerians who participated in a simultaneous demonstration in London also called on the president to either return home and resume work or step down from office.
Entertainer Charlie Boy was amongst those who participated at Monday’s protest in Abuja.
Responding to the protesters shortly after they rounded off the day’s exercise, the presidency said no further explanations were necessary since Mr. Buhari had handed over powers to Yemi Osinbajo, who has been functioning as acting president for more than three months.
“There is nothing like a power vacuum in the country given the competence and general harmony with which the whole government is running.
“Any such calls as being made by this or any other group represent an irrational assault on the constitution and should be ignored by well-meaning members of the public.
“The need of the hour for this country is to rid it of corruption, reform and reinvigorate the economy and to fight crime and insurgency.
“The government is busy with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure all over the country. It is creating jobs for the unemployed,” Mr. Shehu said.
But Mr. Adeyanju told PREMIUM TIMES that sundry government functions have been paralysed by Mr. Buhari’s absence, describing role of Mr. Osinbajo as a “facade”.
“Nigerians are not fooled,” he stated. “But even if we were, now we’re saying: enough is enough!”