The acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, said only President Muhammadu Buhari could disclose his health status to Nigerians at the appropriate time.
He also said he was not in any way under pressure to resign.
Osinbajo spoke with State House correspondents shortly after meeting behind closed doors with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While saying the President was hale and hearty, Osinbajo said he had a long discussion with him earlier in the day to keep him abreast of developments regarding the 2017 budget and the protests embarked upon by some Nigerians.
He said, “The President is hale and hearty. I spoke to the President just this (Monday) afternoon and we had a long conversation. He was interested in knowing about the budget process and how far we have gone and the meeting today with the private sector and the economic recovery growth plan.
“I also informed him about the protest march and feedback about what people are saying about the economy. He is in good shape.”
When asked specifically on when the President would return to the country, Osinbajo said, “Just like he said in his letter to the National Assembly, he needs to go through a cycle of tests and once he sees the tests’ results and gets medical advice, we expect him back very soon.”
When asked why it was difficult for the Presidency to disclose the health status of Buhari, Osinbajo said the President had to complete his tests before he could know his status.
He said only the President would disclose his health status at the appropriate time.
“I think that the health status of Mr. President is an issue that only Mr. President himself would be able to discuss at the appropriate time.
“Again, he is running tests and all of that. Before you will be able to determine your health status, you must be able to say this is my health status.
“If I am running tests, doing some routines that my doctors have asked me to do, then surely, I must await the outcome of that before I can talk of my status,” he said.
Osinbajo also said he was not under any pressure to resign as being speculated in some quarters.
He said Nigerians who voted for him and Buhari had not asked them to resign from their positions.
“I am absolutely under no pressure to resign. I was voted for by the people of this nation, myself and Mr. President and so the people of this nation have not asked us to resign.
“I am absolutely not under any pressure whatsoever. The truth is that there has been no pressure from any source asking me to resign. That is the honest truth,” Osinbajo said.
However, the Trade Union Congress, the National Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria and the Nigerian Medical Association have said Buhari’s medical trip shows the country’s declining health infrastructure as a result of underfunding.
NARD said the Federal Government should urgently carry out health reforms such as the creation of the Office of the Surgeon-General and the implementation of the 2014 National Health Act, which would correct the underfunding in the health sector.
NARD President, Dr. Onyebueze Ugochukwu, said on Monday in an interview with our correspondent that the Senate had continued to frustrate the creation of the Office of the Surgeon-General of the country so that flimsy medical trips would not be stopped.
He said, “We have always stated it that the President’s situation calls to question the creation of the Office of the Surgeon-General or the Chief Medical Officer of Nigeria. He is the one to state categorically the state of heath of the President and other public office holders.
“Some weeks ago, the Senate, for political reasons, refused to approve the creation of that office. They know that once you have this office, it becomes difficult for some of them who travel overseas for flimsy health reasons because the Surgeon-General would have to give approval.
“We must ask ourselves why Nigeria does not have a Chief Medical Officer who is an authority to speak on matters of ill health of public officers in the country.
“Secondly, it calls to question the state of the hospitals in the country. The health sector is declining. The World Health Organisation in a survey in 2013 on 190 countries ranked Nigeria 187th in the health sector.
“In the area of manpower and health personnel, Nigeria has the best crop of medical practitioners. Our clinical acumen is very excellent. We also want the government to implement the National Health Act which was passed in 2014. The act encompasses the primary health sector and its funding.”