A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, has said that contrary to reports in some quarters, President Muhammadu Buhari had an engaging week devoted mostly to policy issues, not ceremonial events.
Mr. Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, said this in Abuja on Sunday.
The presidential aide was reacting to media reports insinuating that the presidency had heavily cut down President Buhari’s workload since his return from London on March 10, to allow him rest.
The reports said the President “has spent just about three to four hours in office since his return to Nigeria’’, adding that “the president has not attended any event outside the Presidential Villa since his return.”
Mr. Shehu, however, debunked these assumptions, saying that “in the first week of his return, President Buhari walked his talk on his intense desire to pay back to Nigerians by way of keeping their trust and serving their interests.
“His reply to the people for their support and trust is to work much harder for them.’’
According to him, the President did not have a day off or even a light week at all throughout his week of resumption.
He added that, “I read those analyses and I believe they were mostly wrong. What they don’t understand is that the President doesn’t follow official working hours because he is on duty all the time.
“He has another office by his living room so he works from home when most civil servants have closed.’’
Mr. Shehu noted that the president, who resumed work on Monday 13, started with the letters he sent to the two arms of the parliament, signifying his return to work.
He said the president then went in for a handover briefing by the Vice President.
“They had a lot to discuss between themselves.
“Although he gave specific mandates to the Acting President, he needed to be brought up to speed on the developments in the Supreme Court, the Niger Delta, the economy with particular reference to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERPG which was launched in his absence and programs like the Small and medium Enterprises Clinic which have strong connections to the agricultural strategy of the administration.’’
He disclosed that on Tuesday the President followed up his meeting with the Vice-President, getting details from the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele on the liquidity situation of the country, the issue of reserves and the outlook for the rest of the year.
The presidential aide said the president then met with the leadership of the National Assembly led by Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
“Those two arms have dealt with the issue of his vacation with great sensitivity.”
He revealed that on Wednesday, the President presided at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), saying that “the president came well prepared for the meeting, appearing as if he had not been away for over a month.
“The noticeable thing about the last meeting was that it dwelled on policy. The meeting didn’t discuss contracts.’’
Mr. Shehu added that on Thursday, the President had a joint sitting with the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, the Ministers of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and that of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udoma.
He said that they discussed the country’s economic situation, the progress on the 2017 budget and liquidity issues.
He observed that on the same day, President Buhari held a state-of-nation meeting with governors who had assembled for the routine meeting of the National Economic Council being presided over by the Vice-President.
Mr. Shehu noted that Friday was used mostly for security briefing before the Juma’at prayers.
“The President has big ambitions for the country, driven by an intense desire to leave his mark on national affairs. This is as he said on his return two Fridays ago,’’ he added.