Omololu Ogunmade and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja with agency report
Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, who was one of the four All Progressives Congress (APC) governors that met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in London, has said that he expects the president to return home from the United Kingdom (UK) within the next two weeks, confirming THISDAY’s report Monday that Buhari may return by August at the latest.
Speaking to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London Monday, Okorocha said Buhari was in high spirits and fully engaged in discussions about his home country.
The president, who is 74, left Nigeria on May 7 for treatment for an unspecified illness, and save for the photograph released by the State House on Sunday showing Buhari at lunch with the governors and other APC leaders, he had not been seen for 77 days.
A statement on Sunday from Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina, had said Okorocha told him on the phone that the president was very cheerful and had not lost his sense of humour.
He said Okorocha also told him that the party’s delegation spent more than an hour with Buhari during lunch, and it was very clear from the discussions with him that he had followed developments at home very closely.
He said Okorocha disclosed that the president was delighted to receive the delegation and asked each governor about events in his state, while specifically asking the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, about the state of the railways.
He listed those in the delegation to include Governors Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa; Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna; Yahaya Bello of Kogi; and the APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun.
It is the second time this year that Buhari has received treatment in London.
His absence has fuelled much speculation about his health.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been acting as president while Buhari is away.
Adesina Monday also explained why Buhari did not address Nigerians from the Abuja House, Nigerian High Commission in London.
Adesina, who spoke during an interview with Channels Television, said Nigerians should know by now that not addressing them directly is Buhari’s personal style, adding that it is the way the president prefers to do things.
According to him, “It’s a matter of personal style, there is no style that you can call ‘the style’.
“The style of our president is what you have seen on display and by now two years after he came, I am sure that we should understand him.
“We should know the kind of person he is, we should know how he prefers to do things and that is how the president is.
“That just tells you that that is the way our president is, we elected him willingly and we have seen that this is the way he is.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the delegation of the APC that met with Buhari used the opportunity to secure his consent to proceed with plans for the party’s national convention.
Before the trip, the APC governors and party’s national leadership had met during the monthly interactive session where it was resolved that a team be sent to meet with Osinbajo to explore ways of conducting the convention and to get him to stand in for the president.
THISDAY also gathered that the excuse over the paucity of funds was no longer tenable, as governors had pledged to engage with the national leadership to provide funding for the convention.
However, Osinbajo, according to a source, referred them back to Buhari to get his consent.
“The acting president declined their suggestion to stand in for Buhari so that the party can proceed with the convention.
“So it was after the meeting between the governors and the APC leadership and the subsequent one with Osinbajo, that the team sought for audience with Buhari, where the issue of the national convention of the party was brought up,” the source said.
When contacted on the issue, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said he was ignorant about what was discussed during the London visit since he was not part of the delegation.
“I do not know if such issue was discussed during the visit of Oyegun and the governors to London. But I don’t think there is anything about the convention to be discussed since we are in the process of conducting congresses to elect delegates to the convention,” he said.
The APC Monday also released its timetable for the conduct of its governorship primary in Anambra State slated for August 12.
So far, about 12 aspirants have picked up the governorship nomination forms.
According to the timetable released by the party, the aspirants would be screened from July 31 to August 4, while the Appeal Screening Committee would listen to appeals from August 5 to 8.
A source at the APC National Secretariat said that the National Working Committee was considering the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, as the chairman of the primary committee.