The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, said President Muhammadu Buhari was in regular discussion with the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, every day.
This, he said, showed that the President was not in danger or hospitalised as being speculated.
Mohammed spoke while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Abuja presided over by Osinbajo.
He was joined at the briefing by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; and the Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah.
Mohammed attributed the controversy over the health status of the President to Buhari’s transparency.
He said Buhari, who had at different times in the last few weeks been reported to have passed on or in a critical shape, was a victim of his own transparency.
The minister said the controversy was caused by Buhari, who, in his usual transparent manner, announced that he was going on vacation during which period he would undergo check-ups.
He said people had undergone check-ups without announcing doing so.
He stated, “Mr. President, like I said elsewhere, is a victim of his own transparency. He was going on leave; he did what the constitution says he should do. He transmitted a letter to the National Assembly and an Acting President was put in place.
“The President said ‘while I am on leave, I am going to conduct some medical tests’ which all of us do without announcing them.
“And of course, less than six hours after he got there, he was pronounced dead by some people. Even those who saw him climbed the aircraft in Abuja said he was flown by air ambulance.
“I can assure you that Mr. President is well, is hale and hearty and no cause for concern. The Acting President speaks to him every day and he told you (reporters) so.”
He stated that Buhari was in good health and was not in any danger.
The information minister added, “I think I can say without any equivocation that he is well, he is hale and he is hearty. No question about that.
“Do you think Mr. President will be ill and we will be here and go about our business like this? He (Fashola) was in Anambra about three days ago. I was in Ilorin on Monday. All ministers are busy. I want to assure you that Mr. President is well and he is absolutely in no danger.”
Mohammed faulted the position of those quoting him as calling for updates on the health status of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua as the then spokesman for the defunct Action Congress.
He said Yar’Adua’s case was completely different from the current case at hand, arguing that in Buhari’s case, there was no need for any update.
He stated, “I think it was one of the newspapers that said when I was the spokesman for the AC, I demanded hourly bulletin of Yar’Adua’s health and that I ought to be giving hourly bulletin as Minister of Information on the health of the President.
“They are comparing apples and oranges. Mr. President is not ill, he is not in hospital. There will be no need to give anybody hourly bulletin about his health, pure and simple!”
When asked if it was ideal for the President to embark on vacation at a time the nation was in recession, Mohammed replied, “Absolutely yes! Our constitution guarantees that. Did Obama not go on leave? Do other Presidents not go on leave?
“Mr. President will go on vacation when he has to go on vacation. Do you know how many ministers have gone on vacation this year? To say Mr. President cannot go on vacation is ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said in Abuja, on Wednesday, that it was not praying for the death of Buhari.
Rather, it said it was its prayer that the President should return to Nigeria in peace from the United Kingdom, where he is currently holidaying and attending to his health.
The Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, stated this while addressing members of the party in Abuja.
He spoke during the submission of the report of the PDP Strategic Review and Inter-Party Affairs Committee, headed by Prof. Jerry Gana.
Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, said it was in the interest of the PDP for the President to return in peace and continue to preside over the affairs of the nation.
He added, “His health is important to the country and Nigerians. It is true we want to capture power in 2019, but we want to take over in an orderly manner.
“He must come back and continue his work; that’s our prayer. So, we want two people to, before this event is over, pray for the good health of the President.”
Before then, a former governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had prayed for the President’s quick recovery.
Aliyu, who was the second to pray during the opening session, asked God to grant the President good health to enable him to lead the country throughout his tenure.
Also, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Sen. Walid Jibrin, dissociated the PDP from those spreading rumour on the alleged death of the President.
Jibrin, who described those spreading such rumour as power seekers, advised them to revert to offering prayers of recovery for the President.
He added, “As good opposition, we shall never engage in wishing President Buhari dead; instead, we are engaged in special prayers for Mr. President and sincerely sympathise with his family and the Acting President of the country.
“Instead of some power seekers engaging themselves in spreading rumour, they should revert to offering prayers for the President. All those trying to involve PDP in wishing the President dead should better stop as the PDP has a good name to maintain.”