Ailing Nigeria president cancels cabinet meeting

AFP , Wednesday 23 Aug 2017

Muhammadu Buhari
In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari looks on during a broadcast to the Nation at the Presidential palace in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said his government will reinvigorate its campaign against the Islamic extremist insurgency in the country's northeast as he spoke to the nation for the first time Monday after returning from London where he spent more than three months for medical treatment. (photo:AP)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled the weekly cabinet meeting he was due to lead Wednesday, the first since returning from a long overseas medical absence, raising questions about his health.

An announcement Tuesday that Buhari will work from home following more than 100 days of medical treatment in London because of a rodent infestation in his official office had already raised questions about his condition.

"The meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will not hold today," the presidency said in a short statement, adding that Buhari, 74, would still receive an update on a corruption investigation against two suspended senior officials.

Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 for his second round of treatment in Britain this year for an unspecified medical condition, having already spent two months in the British capital for healthcare reasons.

Buhari, a retired general elected in 2015, temporarily handed power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to allay fears of a leadership vacuum in a country deeply divided along ethnic and religious fault lines.

His prolonged absence caused tensions back home where calls grew for him to either return or resign.

Political analysts warned that the cancellation of Wednesday's meeting could mean that Buhari has not fully recovered.

"What the latest cancellation of the FEC meeting means is that Buhari does not have the full capacity, in terms of his health, to function," Chris Ngwodo, a political consultant, told AFP.

"I see a picture of somebody who does not have 100 percent fitness. That explains why he's not been able to function properly."

Ngwodo added that the day-to-day running of Nigeria could suffer as a result of Buhari's condition.

"I see a slow-down in governance in Nigeria. This will not augur well for the country -- especially at this crucial time," he said.

Nigeria is grappling with serious security problems, including a jihadist insurgency in the northeast, clashes between farmers and herdsman in the centre of the country, alongside kidnappings and separatism in the south.

The west African powerhouse is also in the grip of a second year of recession, triggered by lower oil prices which have slashed government revenues, weakened the local currency and caused a shortage of US dollars.

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