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Buhari returns home today

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will return to the West African nation later today, ending more than three months of sick leave in London.

Buhari, who left Nigeria on May 7 for medical tests, is expected to address the nation in a broadcast at 7a.m. local time on Monday, the State House said in an emailed statement.

It was the second time the 74-year-old head of Africa’s most populous nation visited the U.K. for treatment this year, after a seven-week stay between January and March. On both occasions, he handed over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The nature of the illness hasn’t been disclosed.

While Nigerian officials have said there is no cause for alarm, Buhari’s absence fueled concern about his ability to rule the nation whose economy contracted in 2016 for the first time since 1991 amid low oil revenue. Coup rumors surfaced in May when Army Chief of Staff Tukur Buratai said he had received information about individuals approaching soldiers and officers to discuss a plot. The armed forces dismissed new speculation last month that there was a conspiracy to topple the government.

Some Nigerian civic groups led protests in Abuja early this month, demanding that Buhari either return to resume his work, or resign, saying his absence had slowed government business.

“We are glad that he is returning,” Adebayo Raphael, co-convener of the “Resume Or Resign” movement, which organized protests since Aug. 7, said by phone.

He added: “Nigeria is a fragile state with religious and ethnic divides. Buhari’s absence was causing a lot of tension, and it was going to a bad place. There was growing investment and political uncertainty.”

 

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