About 81 days since his return from medical vacation in the UK, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to use his office in the Aso Rock Villa, multiple sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.Mr. Buhari left Nigeria for another around of medical care in the United Kingdom on May 7 and returned on August 19.
The president, however, did not resume at his desk on Monday, August 21 as he commenced official assignments from an auxiliary office attached to his residence.
His failure to resume at the office generated curiosity among Nigerians, with some expressing the fear that Mr. Buhari had not recuperated enough to resume work.
The presidency later issued a statement explaining that Mr. Buhari was staying away from the office due to ongoing repair works.
“The regular office needs some renovation because the 103 days of absence” caused “some deterioration” presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, explained at the time.
Another of Mr. Buhari’s media aides, Garba Shehu, later blamed the damages on rodents, an excuse Nigerians largely found amusing.
“Following the three months period of disuse, rodents have caused a lot of damage to the furniture and the air conditioning units,” Mr. Shehu had said.
However, 81 days after the president resumed work, Villa staff and visitors to the seat of power said he was still operating from outside of his official seat.
This is despite him taking full control of the day to day running of government, including hosting visitors and holding meetings at the Villa.
Mr. Buhari, Aso Rock insiders say, is now using annex offices at other locations within the expansive premises, including one attached to his house.
Another office used by the president is the one adjoining the Banquet Hall in the State House.
On October 30, the president received Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, at the Banquet Hall office.
Mr. Buhari’s absence from his office is said to be connected to his tortuous health challenges.
Insiders say spiritualists who worked on the president’s condition advised against his use of the office.
“You know the man was actually bewitched. All these rumours about this or that illness are just guess works. No one was sure, not even the doctors,” said a close aide of Mr. Buhari who preferred anonymity.
“The trip to London in May was unscheduled and all the checks done, including in Germany, revealed nothing. We had to resort to prayers,” he said.
The source said Mr. Buhari’s office and other parts of the villa are “undergoing spiritual cleansing to avert any recurrence in the future”.
When contacted, Mr. Shehu said the president is at liberty to work from any office or location within the villa.
Asked about the state of repairs of the president’s office as announced by the presidency in August, Mr. Shehu declined further comments.
While the presidential aide is right that Mr. Buhari can choose to work from any office within the villa, Nigerians may continue to wonder when their president will return to his main office.