President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday that the performance of Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo while he was away, was buoyed by his youthfulness and intellectual capacity.
The president, however, said of himself that he has age and military background going for him.
Mr. Buhari made these observations when he received political leaders in the State House shortly after he returned to Nigeria from medical vacation on Friday.
The president departed for London on January 19, in a trip that was initially announced as annual vacation but which later turned out to be an extended medical vacation.
The president handed over to Mr. Osinbajo, who has been acting president for the past 50 days. Mr. Osinbajo’s capacity had seen him swear in a new Chief Justice of Nigeria, sign seven bills into law, criss-cross the restive Niger-Delta to appease the oil-producing communities, amongst other critical national assignments.
The vice president’s pace of action was commended by several Nigerians, prompting many to suggest that he should continue playing the major roles in the government.
“Youth and intellect is squarely behind him,” Mr. Buhari said while commending the work done by Mr. Osinbajo. “Continue to do the work, Nigeria will continue whether we are here or not.”
Mr. Buhari said he has his age and experience but strongly encouraged the vice president to step up activities in critical sectors of the country.
“Age and purely military experience is behind me,” he said. “ And my single most important advice is for you to take education of everybody under you very seriously. We must do more on education.”
Mr. Osinbajo, in his response, acknowledged there were challenges but appreciated the trust his principal reposed in him, quipping that he found going around in borrowed robes most enchanting.
“I must say that it has been an interesting period going around the nation maybe in borrowed robes,” the acting president said. “I must say I had a very interesting and challenging time but above all, the president gave us the good support.”
A statement from the State House said Mr. Buhari will officially write to the National Assembly to notify senators of his intention to reassume his opposition as president.
A civic group, CISLAC, had earlier commended the president for asking Mr. Osinbajo to act as president while he recovered.
In a statement by Auwal Rafsanjani, its executive director, CISLAC said the president’s personal acknowledgement of his health crisis and delegation of presidential powers to his vice president were unprecedented.
“We consider this decision very patriotic, confirming the president as a statesman and leader who places national interest above personal interests and does not possess the sit-tight mentality typical of many leaders on the continent,” the group said.