Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari “is fit enough” to stand for re-election despite his ailing health and limited activities, the country’s transport minister has said.
The Guardian reports that Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers State, one of the oil-rich states in the Niger Delta and currently of the two so-called super ministers in Buhari’s cabinet, believed the president’s infirmity was not serious enough to preclude him from putting in one more term.
“If you look at the president since he came to the country, you will see there is a huge improvement,” Amaechi, who was the director-general of Buhari’s campaign said on Channels Television’s Hard Copy. “He’s regaining his weight. This is a 74-year old man, he is no longer a 58-old man, he is not 50…he is not a young man.”
Buhari left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment. He also hinted at the possibility of him going back for more treatment.
But what Nigerians should be more worried about, Amaechi said, is his ability [or lack thereof] to provide good leadership and deliver on the campaign promises he made, which were just three, according to the former Rivers governor.
“He made three [campaign promises]. The rest are propagandas, social media propagandas,” he said.
When asked if he would support Buhari if he stands for re-election in 2019, Amaechi replied in affirmative. “I will advise that he should,” he said.
“The president is fit enough to govern and if he makes the decision to run again, if he does, I don’t think there is anything wrong in supporting him.”
Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai recently expressed similar sentiments.
But in spite of Amaechi’s vote of confidence in Buhari’s health, there are still questions to be answered.
Shortly after his return from London on March, Buhari acknowledged he was terribly sick but did not disclose the true nature of his ailment.
“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man,” he said at a meeting with security chiefs and ministers. He also confessed to receiving “blood transfusions” and “going to the laboratories and so on and so forth”.
He has also been absent from the last couple of Federal Executive Council meetings usually held at the presidential villa, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to chair those meetings. The President was also missing the Juma’at prayer at Aso Villa mosque last Friday.
But the presidency insisted that there was no reason for Nigerians to panic. It said Buhari scale down his activities at the Nigerian seat of power on doctors’ advice.
“As eager as he is to be up and about, the President’s doctors have advised on his taking things slowly, as he fully recovers from the long period of treatment in the United Kingdom some weeks ago,” Buhari’s media aide Garbage Shehu said.
His absence at the last FEC meeting was a last minute decision, he said without stating what informed the decision.