After extending a 10-day vacation in the UK for medical reasons, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has now been out of the country for more than a month. Despite his administration’s best attempts to reassure the public, speculation about the health of the president, who has been in office since 2015, has dominated national discussions.
A new statement by the presidential spokesman, the latest attempt to explain Buhari’s prolonged absence, does little to dispel concerns. Insisting “there is no cause for worry,” the statement says the president is “staying longer than originally planned” due to test results which showed he “needed a longer period of rest.” The statement, however, is scant on crucial details: a return date for the president and the nature of his ailment.
The trip has been shrouded in mystery and contradictions. Repeated denials of the president’s health issues were followed by confirmation that he’d undergone medical tests. As such, Nigerians are drawing parallels with similar circumstances of secrecy when then president Musa Yar’adua passed away in office in 2010. Prior to this trip, president Buhari’s only other health issue occurred last June when he was in the UK to treat an ear infection.