President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday resumed duty as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 53 days after he proceeded on a medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK).
He was also fully briefed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who acted as president while he was away in London, the British capital.
The closed-door meeting, which began at about 12 p.m., lasted for over an hour.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Osinbajo said Buhari was reasonably satisfied with his performance as acting president.
The president’s resumption was announced in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Femi Adesina.
He said Buhari fully resumed work after complying with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution, which requires him to transmit a letter of resumption to the National Assembly whenever he returns from a vacation before he can resume duty.
With Monday’s transmission, Osinbajo who had discharged the functions of the president’s office since January 19, when Buhari proceeded on vacation, ceased to be acting president.
“In compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution, the president has formally transmitted letters to the Senate and the House of Representatives, intimating the National Assembly ‘that I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, March 13, 2017, after my vacation’,” the statement said.
During his remarks to the media on Monday, Osinbajo said the president was “over-ready” to resume work.
The vice-president said that he met with the president to bring him “up to speed on some of the things done while he was away”.
Osinbajo also said having had several days of rest, the president was fit to take over presidential responsibilities from where he stopped, disclosing that the president had given some directives on certain issues such as the North-east crisis, 2017 budget and the economy.
He also said that he and the president reached an agreement on some issues, pointing out that the administration has always worked together as a team and hence, would not be anything new if the president still delegates responsibilities to him.
Osinbajo said: “The president, after receiving the briefing, gave a few directives on what we should be doing – the North-east, the budget, the economy, basically on a wide range of issues.”
The vice-president also confirmed that the letter notifying the National Assembly of the president’s resumption had already been sent to the National Assembly.
Osinbajo said: “The president has resumed and he is doing very well.”
When asked whether the president appeared strong enough to perform the functions of his office, Osinbajo said: “He has held a meeting with me for well over an hour where we discussed a wide range of issues, so his readiness was not in doubt at all. I think he is over-ready.”
Osinbajo also said that he was reverting to his position as vice-president.
On the president’s view of his (Osinbajo) performance as acting president, the vice-president said: “I think the president was reasonably satisfied.”
He said all decisions he took as acting president received the approval of the president.
“The president is always giving me several responsibilities, but what we must always recognise is that the way this administration works has always been one of team work.
“There is very little that is done without the president’s clearance. Even my responsibilities that are constitutional, we have full discussions on them and reach an agreement on a lot of these issues.
“Practically everything, I discuss fully with him and have his endorsement before we go on and do them,” he said.
The president left for the UK on January 19 on a medical vacation.
He eventually returned to the country last Friday, exactly 50 days after he left on his vacation initially slated for 10 days, but was extended by an extra 40 days on the advice of his doctors.
While Buhari had admitted upon his return that he was ill, details of his health have been kept under wraps.
As a mark of the president’s confidence in his deputy, Buhari on Monday directed Osinbajo to head the mediation team charged with resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta region.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd) disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja.
Boroh said the choice of Osinbajo as the leader of the government’s fact-finding delegation on the crisis-ridden region was informed by Buhari’s strategic plan to engender peace in the region.
Boroh said that the positive impact of the visits by Osinbajo to the region was already being felt in the country.
According to him, Osinbajo’s hands-on approach has helped to reassure the people in the region of government’s commitment to resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
The visits, he noted, would meet the president’s expectations of not only building confidence among the people on government’s intentions, but also a fact-finding mission that would pave the way for a workable and lasting solution.
He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari knew what he was doing when he directed the (then) acting President to head the delegation. You need to have seen him in action when we visited different communities in the oil-producing states.
“There is no doubt that the president knows that peace in the Niger Delta region is crucial to the development of the entire country.
“The visits by the vice-president to the Niger Delta is in phases to cover all Niger Delta states. We have so far visited Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers and Imo States. The next phase will be Cross River, Abia and Ondo States.
“By that, we would have covered the entire Niger Delta states.
“This visit is in two folds: it is both a confidence-building and a fact-finding mission because a lot of information has been heard about the Niger Delta but no single person can claim to know all about the Niger Delta.
“It requires the common effort by all towards ensuring that the issues of the Niger Delta are resolved. The information will be collated and we will sit back and resolve how best to tackle the information we get, for the immediate, short and long-term.”
He also disclosed that efforts were being made to pay beneficiaries of the Amnesty Programme who are studying abroad and whose fates were hanging in the balance due to inability to meet their financial obligations in the various countries.
He stated that although the Amnesty Office would have to defray a lot of liabilities when funds allocated to it are eventually released, priority would be given to the foreign beneficiaries especially those who will soon be graduating.
While explaining that the Amnesty Office is compelled to deal daily with false allegations made against it by some aggrieved youths who crave to benefit from the programme, he noted that the progamme is at the integration phase, adding that it would be difficult for it to accommodate new entrants who were not captured when the amnesty offer was in place.
“As for those abroad whose fees are not yet paid, it is the immediate concern of the Amnesty Programme and the entire country as a result of the downturn in our economy.
“We have a lot of liabilities but the Amnesty Office tries to offset these liabilities as we receive funds.
“We are prioritising based on those graduating soon. We handle them first and later handle those graduating in the nearest future. It is on course. When the next resources we are expecting get to us, we will offset all the debts,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate and the House of Representatives both confirmed on Monday that they were in receipt of the president’s letter formally notifying the National Assembly of his resumption of duty.
In separate letters addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Buhari said the letter was in compliance with Section 145 of the constitution.
The letter would be read on the floor of both chambers at plenary on Tuesday.
A copy of the letter dated March 13, 2017, which was obtained from the House read: “In compliance with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I write to intimate the House that I have resumed my functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday 13th March, 2017, after my vacation. Please accept, Honourable Speaker, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
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