The Federal Government said President Muhammadu Buhari was absent at yesterday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) because he was attending to other issues.
Ministers had been seated awaiting the president’s arrival before Vice President Yemi Osinbajo called for recitation of the national anthem and presided over the meeting, which lasted three hours.
It was the first time President Buhari would be absent at the FEC meeting since he returned to Nigeria from a medical vacation in London on March 10.
President Buhari had, at that time, told the nation that he would, in some weeks’ time, go back to London for further check-ups.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the president’s absence did not indicate that he was ill again.
According to Mohammed, it is not unusual for Osinbajo to preside over a council meeting even if Buhari is hale and hearty.
He said: “Clearly, when we came in this (yesterday) morning, Mr President was not in the Chambers. Understandably, that has sparked a lot of controversies and agitation among the people.
“Mr President is in town. Mr President is attending to other issues. He looked at the agenda, it was light and he decided that vice president should preside.
“Mr. President is not ill. He’s not sick. It is not unusual for the president to ask the VP to preside. We know it is not unusual. The interest that has been shown was given the fact that the president was away for a while for treatment. So, we are not surprised that people may be wondering is he ill again?
“Tomorrow morning, he will be back in the office. It is not unusual even if the president is hale and hearty for the VP to preside over a council meeting, even when the president is around.
“The fact that Mr President is not in the office does not mean that he is not working. I have just been told now that Secretary to the Government is already with him in the residence working. So, the fact that you did not see him in the office does not mean that he is not working at all.”