The presidency has responded to a report that United States president, Donald Trump, allegedly described Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as ‘lifeless’ after a meeting between the two leaders on April 30, 2018.
According to a report by Financial Times, sources revealed that Trump informed aides after his meeting with Buhari that he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again.
"The first meeting, with Nigeria's ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April, ended with the US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter," the newspaper claimed.
The alleged comment has led to public ridicule of the president by Nigerians on social media and calls for the government to question the US government for an explanation. However, the presidency is unfazed by the comment because of its questionable source.
While speaking during an interview on Channels TV on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, the president's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the government is not worried about the report which could be politically-motivated.
When asked about the alleged comment, he said, "Channels is a television station reputed for news and objectivity; if that came to you, that information, not ascribed to anybody, not verified, would you take it as authentic? If it's unverified as it came out, then the presidency has no comment on it. It does not pass all the tests of good journalism."
When asked if the comment impacts the president's public image ahead of the 2019 presidential election, Adesina said, "No doubt it won't because Nigerians ultimately are the ones that'll elect their president. No foreign power will determine who gets elected.
"That does not worry us. One because it's unsubstantiated, it's unverified. Anybody could have planted it. We know that in the jostle for power, people can do anything."
Buhari’s medical problems
It's unclear why Trump would have allegedly described Buhari as 'lifeless' behind closed doors, but the 75-year-old president has a well-documented history of ill health over the past one year.
He was away in London for a combined 154 days treating an undisclosed ailment on two separate visits. In fact, when he left the US after meeting Trump, he was 'missing' for two days before his aides reported that he was in London for a 'technical stopover'.
A few days later, it was disclosed that the president saw his doctor during the stopover and had been asked to return to London for another four-day medical trip.
The president only recently just returned from London after he went away for a 10-day vacation during which time vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, was Acting President.