Another delegation comprising State Governors would be paying a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Wednesday July 26.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu disclosed this to Journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The briefing session, which was at the instance of the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), afforded Journalists the opportunity to hear more about the health status of President Buhari.
Giving details of the trip to London, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu told Journalists that the delegation was that of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and would be led by Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State, in his capacity as the Chairman poof the Forum.
He said it was a goodwill visit that cut across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“The delegation is being led by the Governor of Zamfara State, who is the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum.
In the delegation are Governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, Kano, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Borno, Kashim Shettima, Benue, Dr Samuel Ortom, Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel and Oyo, Abiola Ajumobi.
They will leave tonight and arrive the U.K. early and will have 3pm meeting tomorrow Wednesday. The visit is a goodwill visit and there is nothing more than that. I believe Nigerians in various positions have yarned to go meet the President and at some point this obviously has not been permitted. But given the change in circumstances you can see that is coming from London itself and from the President is welcoming. As cultural people, we visit people even in the hospital and I’m sure the President himself will be delighted to see people coming from the six geo-political zones, coming to convey the goodwill of Nigerians,” Shehu stated.
Speaking earlier, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina thanked the state House Press Corps for covering the Presidential Villa well.
“We want to thank you for your cooperation thus far and how you have treated the Presidency. You know that on Sunday there was a major development about the health of our President, in which we had pictures from London and details from one of those who saw him, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. There is a follow up to that,” he said.
On the call by some Nigerians that a vibrant opposition voice like that of Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose or his Rivers state counterpart Nyesom Wike should have been part of the delegation, Mr Femi Adesina said the selection was done by the Governors Forum, not the Presidency.
“The selection was by the Governors’ Forum not the federal government and you will see that the delegation is headed by Governor Yari who is Chairman of that forum. So that question should go to the forum,” he said.
Commenting on the need for some of the Journalists covering the State House to be part of the delegation for such visits, Malam Garba Shehu stated that it was a cost saving measure.
“Well, how about you thinking about it this way, we will be saving money if we don’t take many of you there. Let me tell you, you know I have respect for photographers and the cameramen, we all do. The President’s personal photographer, Bayo Omoboriwo is on the flight, which is more important than me being there. They say a picture conveys more than a thousand words, Bayo will be there and I think it will be more beneficial to Nigerians than if the Special Adviser was on that trip without a cameraman,” he said.
Mr Femi Adesina further said for now, the President has opted to have such delegation visit him, rather than address the nation through radio and television, adding that the President would address the nation, when he chooses to do so.
He said: “It’s a question of what he prefers and this is what he prefers for now. He would rather receive that delegation and that is what is happening. If the President opts for the broadcast address option he will do it.”
On when the President should be expected back home, the Presidential Spokesperson said: “That already is in public domain. He will come back when the doctors certify. It is in the letter he wrote to the AU Chairman which was made public this afternoon also contains that one. He said he was just waiting for his doctors to tell him all is well and then he will return home.
If anybody is giving a timeline that person might have information that we don’t have yet. But the information at our disposal is that the president will return as soon as his doctors give him the go ahead.”
On his part, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande informed State House Correspondents that governnement will continue its dialogue with the Pan Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF.
“Next week there is going to be a follow up meeting between the Acting President and the PANDEF. You will recall that last November the President has held a meeting with the leaders of PANDEF where issues of Niger Delta development were discussed, after which the Acting President embarked on visits to the States of the Niger Delta. And since then, the President asked that an inter-ministerial committee be composed led by the Vice President to look at all the issues, specifically using the PANDEF demand as the take off point.
That inter-ministerial committee has been meeting virtually every week and next week there is going to be a report from the government side and PANDEF. Some of the issues to be discussed at the meeting include for instance, the issue of modular refineries which we hope that starting from August there will be groundbreaking for the first set of modular refineries.
Regarding Ogoni clean up, they are also going to give an update of what has been happening. For instance, the coordinating team that was set up for the Ogoni cleanup conducted health impact assessment, they have done salt test, water test, they have hired a number of sons and daughters of Ogoni who are trained on environmental sciences as technical assistants; I think about 15 of them.
In the next few weeks they are going to go back to Geneva where a holistic road map on the clean up itself will be concluded with the international partners,” he said.
He added that another highlight that will be discussed at that meeting is the plan to open the Maritime University in Okorinko in October this year.
“At the last meeting the Vice Chancellor was asked to bring a takeoff budget that will be approved. Already the National Universities Commission has approved a number of courses that will take off once the university is ready to open,” he said.