Lagos, Nigeria | AFP | Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has marked the end of Ramadan with an audio broadcast to the nation, the presidency said, his first public statement since going on medical leave in early May.
The recording attributed to the president features a tired-sounding and hesitant voice, speaking in the local language Hausa, and was played on the country’s radio channels over the weekend.
Buhari departed for London on May 7 for unspecified medical treatment and his office had repeatedly rejected rumours he is terminally ill.
“I am immensely grateful to God for his mercy in guiding us successfully to conclude another Ramadan fast. My greetings to all Nigerian Muslims and our brother Christians on the occasion of Eid-el-Fitr”, he said, according to a translation provided by his office.
Eid al-Fitr, a normally joyous occasion, marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The country is home to Africa’s largest population with nearly 200 million people belonging to around 250 different ethnic and linguistic groupings.
“I, again, appeal to all Nigerians to avoid reckless statements or actions against our fellow countrymen,” he said.
“We should all resolve to live in peace and unity in our great country,” he added.
There has been much speculation about the state of Buhari’s health and the country remains without news since he left for London.
Despite reassurances from the government on his health, rumours have been making the rounds on local media and social networks that the president has difficulty speaking and suffers from memory loss.
Buhari, 74, already spent nearly two months in London for health reasons at the beginning of this year.
Upon his return, he said he had undergone blood transfusions and that he “couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man”.
But the government has said there is no cause for alarm over Buhari’s health and that the reason for his departure was a follow-up medical consultation.
Reasons for his illness were never revealed, but he appeared to be significantly weakened in his last public appearances.