As the National Assembly prepares to resume from recess next Tuesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, met with President Muhammadu Buhari in London yesterday, with Saraki assuring Nigerians that he was witty and healthy, and there was no cause for alarm.
Saraki and Dogara left Abuja yesterday morning in the company of the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, to meet with the president who is on an extended medical vacation in London.
The lawmakers were said to have left Abuja yesterday morning and arrived London in the afternoon.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu was obviously left out of the trip, because he is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Also, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Lasun and Majority Leader in the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who were supposed to have been on the trip, could not make it.
THISDAY learnt that the visit was at the instance of Buhari who was said to have called Saraki and asked him to come over to London.
Although the reason for the invitation was shrouded in secrecy, Saraki was said to have been favourably disposed to embarking on the trip in the company of Dogara and Lawan.
However, it was gathered that the trip was necessitated by fact that the National Assembly will be resuming from its recess next Tuesday, during which opposition lawmakers might demand to know the true status of the health of the president.
According to sources in the National Assembly, Saraki, Dogara and Lawan’s visit to Buhari in London was set up to douse any concerns over the president’s health.
This, according to sources, informed the release of several photographs of the lawmakers visit to Buhari in London yesterday night.
Also, a statement issued by the senate president last night said: “Myself, Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara and Leader of Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan paid a visit to President Buhari in Abuja House in London.
“We were delighted to see that President Buhari is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits.
“The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself.
“The president’s absence and imminent return shows that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate.
“And let me use the time tested cliché, there is no cause for alarm!”
Both Saraki and Dogara last Wednesday disclosed that they had held phone conversations with Buhari amid speculations about his health.
While Saraki said he called Buhari, Dogara said the president had called him and discussed issues affecting the welfare of Nigerians.
Saraki, in a tweet, said he spoke with the president and he was not only in good spirits, but also cracked a joke with him about his (Saraki’s) penchant for working very late into the night.
Dogara said his conversation with the president focused on Buhari’s concern over the plights of hapless citizens of Nigeria last year and how he was determined not to let the economic downturn continue this year.
The visit of the principal officers of the National Assembly to Buhari in London would be the second of such visits in the last one week by prominent Nigerians.
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu and erstwhile interim Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande visited the president last week and took photographs with him at Abuja House, London.
In the letter informing the National Assembly of the extension of his vacation, Buhari said: “I am extending my leave until the doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out.”
He added: “In the course of the routine examinations, certain tests indicated a course of medications and further appointments have been scheduled for next week (this week).
“I am therefore notifying the Distinguished Senate that I am extending my leave until my doctors are satisfied that certain factors are ruled out. In the circumstances, the Vice President will continue to act on my behalf.”
Meanwhile, the White House in Washington D.C. has finally released the readout of President Donald Trump’s phone call to Buhari on Monday.
The readout, which was published on the White House’s website, was however silent on Trump’s invitation to Buhari to Washington D.C.
It said: “President Donald J. Trump spoke this week with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to discuss the strong cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, including on shared security, economic, and governance priorities.
“President Trump underscored the importance the United States places on its relationship with Nigeria, and he expressed interest in working with President Buhari to expand the strong partnership.
“The leaders agreed to continue close coordination and cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and worldwide.
“President Trump expressed support for the sale of aircraft from the United States to support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.
“President Trump thanked President Buhari for the leadership he has exercised in the region and emphasised the importance of a strong, secure, and prosperous Nigeria that continues to lead in the region and in international forums.”