By Levinus Nwabughiogu
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, called to speak with the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, from London, one month after he left the country on medical vacation.
But the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, missed his own call. He received a text message subsequently from his principal.
This is the first time the media team would be hearing directly from the President since January 19 when Buhari left for the United Kingdom.
The President, during the conversation, expressed gratitude to the team for “holding out against mischief makers”.
But he did not give a date for his return as he said he was still resting.
It will be recalled that hardly had Buhari left the country than speculations of his death became rife. He had scheduled to return on February 6 but failed to do so, saying his doctors recommended further medical tests for him.
His continued stay in London has, however, sparked off a controversy.
Meanwhile, the details of the President’s phone conversation were, yesterday, conspicuously displayed on Adesina’s Facebook wall.
When Sunday Vanguard called, Adesina admitted that he made the post, saying “everything about the phone call is on my wall there”.
Adesina wrote: “At exactly 2.43 pm today, Saturday, February 25, 2017, my phone rang. Who was at the other end? Tunde Sabiu, personal assistant to president Muhammadu Buhari.
“Hold on for Mr. President”, Tunde said. And in a matter of seconds, the very familiar voice came:
“Femi, how are you?” ( He calls me Adesina most times, but today, he opted for Femi). I screamed: “Mr. President, I have missed you. How are you, sir?”
“He first laughed. That familiar laugh. Then he said: “I am still resting. Thank you for holding out against mischief makers”. I said, it was my duty, the very least I could do, adding how happy I was to speak with him.
“How is your family?” I said we are fine and he asked me to extend his greetings to them.
“I hope to call you again,” Mr. President said, and I bade him farewell, adding: “Best wishes, sir”. “It was a defining moment for me. For more than a month, I had always spoken with aides who are with the president in London. Not once did I ask them to take the phone to him, deliberately so, because I didn’t need to speak with him to validate the fact that he was alive. And since he was on vacation, he had a right to his privacy. Of his own volition, president Buhari spoke with me. It made my day.
“Even if he hadn’t done so, he would have remained my president, my leader, my man. Any day.” Shehu, who narrated how he missed the President’s phone call, also yesterday, in a post on his Facebook page, revealed that he received a text message from the President after missing the call. According to him, the President had earlier spoken with the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed and Adesina.
He wrote: “A day for the Presidential Media Team.
“We are thankful to the President, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for sparing the time to make calls to the Media team.
“The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Special Adviser, Femi Adesina responded to the calls, exchanged greetings and thanked him for calling.
“I had an SMS from him thereafter because I missed my call! I humbly join them to say thank you, Baba Buhari!! “We are together with other Nigerians of all faiths, in praying for his safe return.”