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Nigeria president leads first cabinet meeting in 5 months

Abuja, Nigeria | AFP | Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday led his first cabinet meeting for five months after a long stay in London where he received treatment for an undisclosed condition.

The 74-year-old retired general, who flew back to Nigeria on August 19 after more than 100 days in the British capital, has worked from home since returning and skipped last week’s ministerial meeting.

Buhari led the Federal Executive Council after meeting D’Tigress — the national women’s basketball team which won the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket final in Mali on Sunday.

Buhari was shown holding the golden tournament trophy and smiling alongside the green-clad team and was joined by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in a photograph issued by the presidency.

Last week’s cabinet meeting, which was due to be the first since Buhari’s return, was cancelled without explanation leading to media speculation that the president had not fully recovered. Until Wednesday’s meeting, Buhari had not chaired a cabinet meeting since April 5.

Buhari left Nigeria on May 7 for his second round of treatment in Britain so far this year for an unspecified medical condition, having already spent two months in London, returning in March.

Buhari missed three cabinet meetings at the time and transferred power to Osinbajo to allay fears of a leadership vacuum in Africa’s most populous country.

But his prolonged absence caused tensions in the country where calls grew for him either to return or resign.

The health of Nigerian presidents has been a contentious issue since 2010 when ex-president Umaru Yar’Adua died in office after a prolonged course of treatment in Saudi Arabia.

The nation was almost plunged into a constitutional crisis until his deputy Goodluck Jonathan was ultimately permitted to take over following tense negotiations.

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