The Senior Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu has said that there is no basis for comparison in the way his principal handled his illness and the modality of late ex-President Umaru Yaradua when faced with similar circumstances.
According to Shehu, President Buhari immediately did the right thing by handing over to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, whilst Yaradua never did likewise to then deputy, Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking to Arise TV in London, Shehu also said President Muhammad Buhari was under no constitutional obligation to come back to the country within a specific time period.
“In the constitution, there is nowhere the president is required to disclose his illness.”
“This is a country where past presidents never fell ill before. Even when they fell ill, nobody knew about it. This is a country where past presidents never handed over to their deputies. We had a president who was dying in office. Nobody was ready to talk,” he explained.
“Nigerians are missing their president. They want him to come back. The president himself listens to the mass media. He monitors what is going on at home. He was also critical of some elements.
“Nigerians have to understand the situation. We have a constitution. The problem with Nigeria in the past has been that our presidents rarely went on vacation. They never handed over to their deputies.
“In the case of Buhari, he handed over power. This is because he believes the right thing must be done. That is the law. That is the constitution. He followed it properly before he left the country. He handed over according to the law.
“The constitution is open-ended about it. It does not say the president should be away for two months, for three months or six months. There is no timeline.
“So in this circumstances, the right thing was done before President Buhari went on medical vacation.
“The experience with President Yar’Adua was totally unacceptable. In that instance, Yar’Adua never handed over to his deputy. You are perfectly right that people will demand for more information. I believe at the appropriate time, it will be given.”