African press review 13 February 2017

To Nigeria this morning - where the papers reflect mounting concern about the health of President Muhamadu Buhari - who is still in London undergoing medical tests.

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The Punch notes that today "Buhari’s medical trip enters a fourth week."

Throughout the weekend, presidential aides and officials attached to the Protocol Unit of the Presidential Villa in Abuja were put on standby for the President’s possible return to the country.

Efforts made by agitated State House correspondents for information on the arrangements to receive the President on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport did not yield any result.

As of the time of filing this report on Sunday evening, it was still not clear when Buhari would return to the country, the paper says

Adding that the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, has said looters were the ones wishing President Buhari dead to escape prosecution.

He said Buhari had so far given the country exemplary leadership and cleared the rot left behind by the 16-year rule of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The Guardian quotes Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State as saying "those who spread the death rumours of President Buhari hate Nigeria," adding that the country does not benefit from such “evil wishes against the President.”

He said he suffered same fate while on a working holiday to Germany, taking time out to undergo a surgery on my eye. "Rumour went round that I had died," he recalled.

Meanwhile, the paper reports, Muslim clerics and the faithful have held a special prayer session for the President.

The session, organised by a senator, urged Nigerians to pray for Buhari’s speedy recovery rather than spreading false rumours on the social media about his purported death.

The Daily Trust, billed as "Nigeria's newspaper of the year" in 2016, tells readers that "Pro-Buhari groups plan rallies in major cities."

The Citizens Support for Good Governance in Nigeria, a coalition of pro-Muhammadu Buhari organisations, has scheduled rallies this week in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna and Kano - the Abuja-based paper reports.

The co-convener of the rallies, Comrade Moses Abdullahi, appealed to all Nigerians, especially those who believe in what the President stands for, to come out en masse and show their undying love for the Buhari-led administration.

This Day has a story headlined "Buhari’s Wife Thanks Nigerians for Supporting the President."

Mrs. Aisha Buhari expressed gratitude to all Nigerians supporting her husband and urged them to sustain the tempo

She was speaking on her arrival Abuja international airport from Saudi Arabia where she performed Umrah, or Lesser Hajj.

The story cites assorted luminaries urging Nigerian to pray for Buhari, peace, unity and economic prosperity as well as political stability.

Among them, the Sultan of Sokoto, Al haji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, who enjoined all the people of the country, irrespective of their religious inclinations, to pray fervently for Buhari’s safe return to Nigeria.

Elsewhere, the editorial in the Lagos-based Sun is worried about "The free fall of the naira" - the national currency.

In his response a year ago to the relentless depreciation of the naira and calls for its devaluation, President Buhari said he was not persuaded that devaluation would improve the dollar supply in the economy.

"We still strongly hold on to the view expressed in our editorial of February 22 that devaluation may not be the solution to Nigeria’s economic problems," says the Sun.

"We have not shifted from that position. These tough times call for introspection, openness of mind, creativity and courage to take difficult decisions, to put these forex challenges behind the nation."

What those "difficult decisions" might be the Sun does not confide.

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