By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Indeed, there is no place no like home. This was exactly the impression, President Muhammadu Buhari stamped on the minds of many of his aides and other government officials which included the Service Chiefs and Ministers upon his arrival at the presidential Villa, Abuja Friday.
News of his return hit the airwaves late Thursday night when his media adviser, Femi Adesina announced in a statement that the president was expected back on Friday.
And true to the statement, the President aboard the 001 Presidential aircraft touched the Kaduna International airport in the early hours of Friday enroute Abuja.
The President would have landed in Abuja as usual for the diversion of air trafic to Kaduna for the repairs of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Stadium, Abuja.
Following Adesina’s statement and its authenticity, the Presidential Villa helipad became alive as early as 7:am.
It is not usually a place that plays host to people all the time but Friday was different.
The president having taking off from a Nigeria Airforce chopper would land there and so, government officials in their numbers trooped out.
Among them were the Vice President,Yemi Osinbajo,Chief of Staff to the President,Abba Kyari, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,Femi Adesina,Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,Garba Shehu, Minister of Federal Capital Territory,Mohammed Bello,National Security Adviser,Maj-Gen Babagana Mongunu(Rtd),Inspector General of Police,Idris Abubakar.
The list also included the Service Chiefs,namely Chief of Air Staff,AVM Sadique Abubakar,Chief of Naval Staff,Real Admiral,Ibok-Ete Ekwe Iba,Chief of Defence Staff,Maj-Gen Abayomi Olonisakin,Chief of Army Staff,Maj-Gen. Tukur Buratai, Zamfara State Governor,Abdullaziz Yari,Minister of Transport,Rotimi Amaechi,Minister of Information,Lai Muhammed, among others.
While Buhari was away, speculations were rife that he had given up the ghosts.
The development which he has proven to be total falsehood literally divided Nigerians.
At exactly 8:42am, the military helicopter touched ground.
Within minutes, President Buhari who was prior to now rumoured dead emerged in flesh and blood, sporting a flowing black gown with a colourful cap to march.
Buhari may have undergone some medical routines, but his appearance was still smart compared to what many had expected of a man widely speculated death
The President showed strength and zeal to return to work.
He later met and shook hands with government functionaries, already waiting.
One would have thought that the President also show concerns with his rumoured demise, but no, the president beamed smiles.
Shortly after exchanging pleasantries, the President was chauffeur driven to the First Lady’s Conference Hall, where he met briefly with the Vice President,Yemi Osinbajo, some of his cabinet members,service chiefs and some serving governors.
It was supposed to be an open meeting for media coverage, but trust some overzealous security ratings. They wouldn’t let that happen. They would show they are in charge in Aso Villa and so barred Journalists.
But then, trust Journalists too. A few of us got in.
At the meeting, the president told the story of his sojourn abroad for 51 days.
Jokes and smiles were also not far from his lips and face occasionally as he spoke.
His remarks about the wonders of technology and the importance of education were significant probably because he got help through the application of advanced medical tools.
Buhari, the retired military General would not change from being who he is in terms principles and policies. While thanking Nigerians for their fervent prayers and care, he said that his return on a weekend was deliberate to get some rest, meaning that he wouldn’t want too many visitors.
Buhari also pricked those planning to send a delegation to visit him in London to return to Nigeria.
Above all, the President said the only way to pay Nigerians back was to rededicate himself for service to the people.
“I am deeply grateful to all Nigerians, Muslims and Christians alike who have prayed and continue to pray for my good health.
“This is a testimony that inspite of the hardship being experienced, Nigerians support the government in its efforts to tackle our country’s challenges.
“The best way for me to pay you all is to rededicate myself to serving you, protecting your interest and keeping your trust. I thank you very much.
“I feel much better now. All I will need is to do further follow ups within some weeks.
“Rather than sending delegations to Abuja to welcome me , May I appeal to our people to continue to pray for the country’s unity, progress and prosperity. I thank you very much and may God bless our country.
“For me I feel that I was a little more tired than I probably was in the last eighteen months. Whatever the case , I am very grateful that Nigerians are appreciative of what all of us are doing as a group. I am very pleased with them.
“I was also cost conscious and I think the Vice President knows about the expenditure. So please if you are clever enough re-route your way, on your official duties either from US back to Nigeria.
“I am very conscious of the economy. I have rested as much as humanly possible, I have received the best of treatment anyone ilI could receive. I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including the military with its ups and downs.
“I Found out that technology is going so fast that if you have a lot of confidence you better keep it because you need it.
“There were also blood transfusions, going to the laboratories, and so on and so forth, but I am very pleased that we, when I say we, I mean the government and the people all over are trying to keep up with technology.
I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion, I couldn’t recall honestly I can say in my seventy years.
“I cannot remember this drug that Nigerians take so much, a very common drug, all the same I think one of our terrible thing is self medication. We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more, I realised they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow anything
“Having said all these, I am pleased that I am back, I am pleased that the Vice President enjoyed this break and he has to do much more this time around. Youth and intellect is squarely behind him, age and purely military experience is behind me.
“Continue to do the work, Nigeria will continue whether we are here or not and my single most important advise is take education of everybody under your responsibility very seriously, your children our relatives, our constituencies. We must do more on education.
“I deliberately came back towards the weekend, so that the Vice President will continue and I will continue to rest. Thank You very much”.
The President was later driven to his official residence to get some rest.