The Presidency on Wednesday said that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting because President Mohammadu Buhari was engaged with other pressing state issues.
This is the first time Vice President Osinbajo will be presiding over the meeting since President Buhari returned from his medical vacation in London, United Kingdom (UK).
Buhari returned to the country on March 10, after spending 49 days attending to his health.He was at the presidential villa as at 11 am when the council meeting commenced.
But, his absence at the meeting sparked wild speculations that his health had relapsed and rendered him indisposed to preside over the council.
However, addressing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, explained that it was not unusual for the Vice President to preside over the council.
“Clearly when we came in this morning, Mr President was not in the chambers but the Vice President did preside over the council meeting,” Mohammed said.
The Minister who gave reasons for President Buhari’s absence at the weekly meeting Wednesday said “he is not ill, he is not sick,” and assured that the President will be back in the office tomorrow (Thursday).
“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, Babachir Lawal, 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.
“Understandably, that has sparked a lot of controversies. 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 is 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. We are not surprised that people will be wondering is he ill again?”
FEC, as constituted, is presided by the President and has the Vice President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the National Security Adviser (NSA), Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF) and cabinet ministers as members.