Two aides of President Muhammadu Buhari last night said the ailing Nigerian leader might head home within a week, subject to clearance by his doctors. In an interview on the condition of anonymity, one of the two sources also claimed that some of the president’s latest health symptoms revealed in our recent reports arose as adverse reactions to drugs prescribed for Mr. Buhari since he arrived in the UK. The symptoms include memory loss and speech impairment.
“Mr. President [Buhari] is getting better and wanting to return to Nigeria very soon,” one of the two sources said. Despite our correspondent’s pressure, the source declined to disclose any specific date for Mr. Buhari’s return, saying the matter “totally depends on his doctors.”
There were earlier speculations that President Buhari would return to Nigeria by today, but our two sources said they were not sure about the source of such speculations.
Asked why the President had not spoken to his vice or revealed the true nature of his sickness to Nigerians, despite his avowed transparency and honesty, one of the sources told SaharaReporters, “Sickness is not a matter you just start broadcasting to everybody. Remember that Mr. President, after his return to Nigeria in March, told Nigerians that he had never been so sick in his life. I think that statement has already disclosed enough about his health.”
The latest claims by the presidential sources that Mr. Buhari was on the cusp of returning to Nigeria seem triggered by our latest report that the chronically sick leader had suffered speech impairment and a worsening of memory loss in the course of his medical treatment in London.
One of the Presidency sources said he was in no position to discuss the specifics of Mr. Buhari’s treatment, but disclosed that part of the president’s treatment had led to “some side effects.” Asked if the side effects included speech problems memory loss, the source obliquely acknowledged those side effects. However, he claimed that “the issues [side effects] are temporary. They occurred after the medical team administered a particular medication on Mr. President.”
The same source revealed that President Buhari had been receiving blood transfusions to help improve his health.
Mr. Buhari left Nigeria for the UK some 47 days ago to continue medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment believed to be cancer. Since arriving in London, Mr. Buhari has not been seen in public, but has been ensconced in the Nigerian Presidential Guest House in London known as “Abuja House”. The President has hardly spoken to his vice, now acting President Yemi Osinbajo, since he left. The lone exception was two weeks ago when the gravely sick president held a short-lived telephone conversation with Mr. Osinbajo. Mr. Buhari spoke with such incoherence that the conversation had to be ended abruptly.
This year alone, President Buhari has spent more than 100 days outside of Nigeria on account of his failing health. There remain major concerns that Mr. Buhari would remain frail as he suffers from age-related infirmities in addition to the chronic health condition that took him to London. Officially 74 years old, the president is believed by some to be much older.
Even if President Buhari returns to Abuja within a week as claimed by some of his aides, including the ones we interviewed, it is almost certain that he would soon need to return to the United Kingdom to continue treatment.
An opposition politician told SaharaReporters that members of a cabal close to the ailing President have renewed their plan to return him to Nigeria to assume office after his current prolonged absence.
Some members of that cabal were last week in Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj. The opposition politician, who asked for anonymity, said the group “used the lesser hajj as a cover to hold clandestine meetings with Senate President Bukola Saraki as part of their design to control power.” He identified Issa Funtua, an in-law of the President, as the leader of the cabal in Saudi Arabia.