ABUJA – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will return to his official duties as soon as doctors advise that he can end his medical leave, according to a statement from the presidency on Tuesday.
Amid conflicting reports on the health of the 74-year-old president, his office released a photograph on Sunday – the first for almost three months – showing a smiling Buhari looking less gaunt than when he was last seen on television in Nigeria.
Buhari left Abuja for London on May 7 for treatment of an unspecified illness, his second trip abroad this year for health reasons. The first trip, also to London, lasted nearly two months and a number of photographs of him were published.
“I am making good progress, and as soon as doctors advise, I shall return to my duties and continue serving the Nigerian people who elected me and are daily praying for my recovery,” Buhari said in a letter to Guinea President Alpha Conde, dated July 24, according to the presidency statement.
Buhari, a former military ruler who took office in May 2015, handed over to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, to allay concerns about a possible power vacuum in his absence.
With the economy in recession, Nigerian authorities are also fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast and trying to maintain a fragile ceasefire by militants whose attacks in the Niger Delta last year cut oil production by more than a third.
The refusal of officials to disclose details of Buhari’s illness has triggered fierce speculation in Nigeria’s media and on social media over the last few months about whether he will seek a second term in the 2019 election.