Two days after paying a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in London, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, has said he does not know who is paying for the President’s treatment.
Mr Adesina said this on Monday when he made an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, during which he shared his thoughts and feelings about meeting his boss for the first time in more than three months.
“I do not know who is paying (for his treatment), but as a President, he has a right to be treated by the country,” he said when asked who was footing the President’s bill.
He added that even though he doesn’t know for sure, the country was most likely paying for his treatment.
Mr Adesina and members of the President’s media team along with the Special Adviser on the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had visited their boss in London on Saturday.
Photos and a video footage from the visit, which went viral have not ended the controversy over the President’s long absence with some people insisting that many questions are still unanswered about his health status and his ability to assume his duties.
While the President’s spokesman was unsure of his return date, he said the President was “like his old self”.
“The President I saw was sharp, he was smart, he was lucid. The President I saw was like his old self, almost completely mended. But then, like we said in the statement we issued which is what he said to us in the first place, he would come when his doctors say it’s time to go,” he said.
Asked if he felt the President appeared fit enough to travel back to Nigeria, Adesina said, “If you know the President, at the peak of his performance – when he first assumed the Presidency and we went to different parts of the world, you will know that he is a man of tremendous energy and tremendous ability.
“If a man was ill and he has mended, that means he is restored. He can do what he used to do and possibly even more.”
Some have said that since the President is strong enough to receive visitors, his doctors should follow him back to Nigeria and monitor his progress, but Adesina disagrees.
He said those wondering why the President’s doctors haven’t done that are only expressing their opinion.
“Their opinions do not necessarily translate to the gospel truth. It’s just an opinion,” he said.
One other aspect of the President’s medical vacation that has generated controversy is the decision to keep the Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001, in London since May 7 when the President flew there.
The controversy had emanated from the realisation that taxpayers’ funds will be spent on parking fees.
The Presidency had in a statement late June defended the move, saying the country was expected to get a discount on the payments.
Adesina, who confirmed that the aircraft was still in London, maintained the same position on Monday.
“That is still the position. When the President of a country is away, his plane should be there,” he said, adding that he didn’t know how much the country is paying as parking fees.
Concerning the national convention held by the Peoples Democratic Party and its boast that it would displace the ruling All Progressives Congress in 2019, Adesina said the President was not bothered.
He said, “When the PDP was at its strength, they were defeated; they were given a bloody nose at the polls, not to talk of when they are holding the shorter end of the stick. So, it should not bother anybody.”
He also dismissed talks about low ratings for the APC, saying, “Ratings change; it can be low today and, tomorrow, it can go up. So, it is not something that should worry anybody. All I know is that this government is on course and before the mandate terminates in 2019, the rating will be very high.”