President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria after a prolonged stay in the United Kingdom for medical attention.
The president arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 4:36pm on Saturday to widespread excitement in and outside of government.
President Buhari arrives residence, taking a walk and is welcomed by AgP Osinbajo & others already waiting there, ahead of him from airport pic.twitter.com/vYLE73fQ0G
— Laolu Akande (@akandeoj) August 19, 2017
In the slightly more than 3 months that the president has been away, a number of significant issues have occurred which the acting president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has handled presumably to the best of his ability and with the much latitude the political circumstances allow.
President Buhari is returning to office at a time the debate over restructuring has attained a heightened frenzy while calls and counter-calls for eviction of certain ethnic groups from different parts of the country have also become more prevalent. The campaign for secession led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has also continued and may be gaining more support regardless of violent clashes with security forces. These are clearly issues that cannot and will not wait for the president to rest a while before he addresses them.
Many have argued that some youths from the northern region of the country who issued a quit notice to citizens of Igbo extraction resident in the north did so because they were emboldened by the fact that the president was their kinsman and would not take decisive action against them.
The ability of Prof Osinbajo as acting president to decisively deal with Arewa youths who made such ordinarily treasonable statements was also cast in doubt amidst insinuations that he was being held back from wielding full presidential powers by the president’s loyalists.
Perhaps observing the seeming levity with which the threats by the Arewa Youths was handled, a group of Niger Delta youths has asked Nigerians who hail from the north and the south-west presently doing business in the Niger Delta to leave the region by October 1, 2017 or expect to be attacked.
Other issues that may also immediately test Buhari’s capacity include renewed attacks by terrorist group, Boko Haram. In the president’s absence, Boko Haram has abducted a group of policewomen and in another attack, killed many soldiers guarding an oil exploration team in Borno while also kidnapping some of the researchers from the University of Maiduguri.
As acting president, Osinbajo ordered the chief of army staff and the chief of air staff to relocate to Maiduguri to contain Boko Haram’s renewed threat but little has been said about progress made in negotiating the release of the policewomen and the researchers aside the Chibok girls still being held by the islamist sect.
The economy appears to have become a gradual recovery going by the sustained drop in headline inflation over the past 3 months which coincided with Buhari’s absence. The president would now also have to ensure that efforts are sustained to drive the economy towards full recovery.
Buhari will also be expected to answer questions on his government’s plan to make urgent improvements to the health facilities in the country and put an end to the need for such medical tourism as he has been embarking upon. It is one campaign promise he has been very far from fulfilling.