By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-The Wednesday edition of the Federal Executive Council, FEC weekly meeting has been canceled.
But the presidency said that it was not planned to hold in the first instance.
The Presidency also refuted claims of fresh concerns over the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, a speculated possible reason for the cancellation of the FEC meeting.
It will be recalled that President Buhari stayed away from the meeting last week contrary to every expectation.
His Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo functioned in his place.
The spokesman of the government and Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed at the end last week meeting told State House correspondents that the president was not ill.
Mohammed said that the President delegated the power to preside on Osinbajo having considered the agenda of the meeting light.
He added that the president was also in the country and was attending to “other issues”.
The Minister however assured that the president who was at his official residency would resume duties in his office later that Wednesday or Thursday (yesterday).
He said: “Clearly when we came in this morning, Mr President was not in the chambers but the Vice President did preside over the council meeting. Understandably, that has sparked a lot of controversies and imputations in the mind of people.
“I just want to make this clear, Mr President is in town. Mr president is attending to other issues. Mr president looked at the agenda, it was a very light agenda and decided that the Vice President should preside.
“It’s not unusual for the kind of interest that is shown especially given the fact that Mr president was away for a while on medical treatment and is not. We are not surprised that people will be wondering is he ill again?
“He is not ill, he is not sick. I am sure that later in the day or tomorrow morning, he will be back in the office. I just want to clear that misconception.
“It is not unusual even if Mr president is hail and hearty and everything is going on well, for the VP to come and preside over meetings of the federal executive council.
“The fact that Mr President is not in the office does not mean that he is not working. I have just been told now that the secretary to the government is already with him in the residence working. So, the fact that you did not see him in the office does not mean that he is not working at all.”
But it was learnt that the President was also absent from office on Thursday as there was no known function he attended.
He however attended the Junmmat prayer Friday last week at the Presidential Villa Mosque.
Asked to confirm the cancellation of Wednesday meeting, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said that it was not scheduled to hold in the first place.
He said: “It was not to hold in the first place. It was not cancelled. You cancel something that you have planned to hold. There was holiday on Friday. There was holiday on Monday. So, it was not planned to hold. There is no law that says that FEC must hold every week.”
In the similarly vein, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said that the Easter holiday was a possible reason why the meeting did not hold.
He said that memos were not circulated to the Ministers by the FEC secretariat.
“The staff on the Council secretariat resumed on Tuesday after the Easter. There was no time to prepare and circulate memos to ministers. By practice, the ministers receive council memos two or three days ahead of meetings because they must read them and sometimes undertake research. It is not a rubber stamp council. So everyone must prepare themselves well for debates”, he said.
The Presidential spokesman also dismissed assumptions of a health breakdown, saying “”That will not be fair.”
Recall, however, that the President was flown to London, United Kingdom January 19 on a medical vacation.
He returned to the country March 10.
Since his return, President Buhari has remained literally indoors, only meeting with some government officials who briefed him on some matters including security.
His only “big” function was the launching of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP which held at the Council Chamber inside the Presidential Villa penultimate week.