Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attended weekly prayers Friday, a development that eased but did not eliminate concerns about his poor health and its impact on the country.
This was the first time in three weeks that Buhari came to worship in the mosque, located inside the presidential villa in Abuja.The president had earlier missed three consecutive Wednesday cabinet meetings.
VOA’s Hausa Service reporter, Umar Farouk Musa, said Buhari appeared hearty and cheerful as he greeted other worshippers at the end of prayers Friday.
Isiayku Ibrahim, an influential northern politician who sat next to Buhari in the mosque, said the president’s ability to recognize and chat with individuals during the interaction indicates that he is still in control of his senses.
A national lawmaker from Buhari’s own Katsina state, Senator Abu Ibrahim, who also attended the prayer service, cautioned against reaching quick decisions on the president’s health. He said reports that Buhari was incapacitated in any way have now been proved wrong.
Despite the assurances, Nigerians continue to express concern over the president’s health.
In mid-January, Buhari turned over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and flew to London, where he spent nearly two months being treated for an unspecified illness. When he returned to Abuja in March, he warned Nigerians that he may be forced to rest from time to time.
Lately, there have been calls from lawmakers, opposition governors and critics for the president to return to Britain for medical care. Some have called on him to resign or be impeached due to his inability to govern effectively.
The reluctance of Nigerian government officials to speak about Buhari’s health has only heightened the concern.
Information minister Lai Mohammed stated that the president was “resting and working from home.” The minister also said the president was doing this “on the orders of his doctors.”
Buhari’s wife, Aisha, announced last week on her Twitter page that the president’s situation was not “as bad as it was made to look.”