A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, stirred a fierce debate on Tuesday after disclosing that rodents had invaded President Muhammadu Buhari’s office, forcing him to work from home after returning from a 103-day medical leave in London.
Mr. Buhari returned to the country on Saturday, stepping on the country’s soil for the first time since he was flown abroad for medical treatment on May 7. Monday was his first day back at work as he wrote the National Assembly announcing his resumption.
But news soon emerged that the president had elected to work from his official residence at the State House, rather than his office which is also situated on the same premises.
The move was to allow for renovation of the president’s office, the presidency had initially said, adding that he will work optimally from home.
“The regular office needs some renovation because the 103 days of absence” caused “some deterioration” presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, explained. “He’s going to be working from an office in the House that is almost a replica of the regular office.”
Mr. Adesina said the initial presidential actions by Mr. Buhari on Monday, especially the notification of resumption sent to the National Assembly, were taken inside the auxiliary office.
Some citizens expressed doubts about the official explanation, arguing that the president’s ill-health kept him away from the office.
But a more intense controversy ensued on Tuesday, after Mr. Shehu was quoted to have added that rodents were to blame for the deterioration in the president’s office.
“Following the three months period of disuse, rodents have caused a lot of damage to the furniture and the air conditioning units,” Mr. Shehu told THISDAY Newspaper.
Mr. Shehu’s remarks drew immediate criticism on social media, with many berating him for regaling the country with ‘amateur lies.’
“Did Garba Shehu consider how ridiculous this rodent excuse sounded when drafting his press release or did the absurdity escape him?” a user asked on Twitter.
“See how this rat thing will make headlines around the world. Gosh! They should have left it at ‘he’ll work from the home office’ mehn!
See how this rat thing will make headlines around the world. Gosh! They should have left it at 'he'll work from the home office' mehn!
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) August 22, 2017
“I mean, they couldn’t think of a better lie? Didn’t Femi Adesina work at a red top? They’re known to be creative, no?”
I mean, they couldn't think of a better lie? Didn't Femi Adesina work at a red top? They're known to be creative, no?
— T. Rankïn' (@AfroVII) August 22, 2017
“Kai, I have done a systematic examination of this Rat story from the Presidency. I found no redeeming prospect,” tweeted former Education Minister and Bring Back Our Girls co-convener, Oby Ezekwesili. “They elevated Rodents.”
Kai, I have done a systematic examination of this Rat story from the Presidency. I found no redeeming prospect. They elevated Rodents.
— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) August 23, 2017