By Olalekan Adetayo/PunchThe Presidency on Wednesday explained that President Goodluck Jonathan returned to Nigeria from his two-nation visit to Malawi and Botswana on Tuesday, a day ahead of his scheduled return, because he accomplished his missions earlier than expected.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said this in an interview with our correspondent.
Abati had in a statement on Saturday said the President would return to Abuja on Wednesday after his visits to the two countries.
But the President returned on Tuesday evening fuelling speculation over the state of health of his wife, Patience, who is believed to be undergoing treatment in a German hospital.
But the presidential spokesman said there was no hard and fast rule about the duration of working visits such as the one Jonathan embarked upon.
He insisted that the President left Botswana after he had exhausted all the agenda on the second leg of the trip, having earlier visited Malawi.
He said, “There is no hard and fast rule about the duration of working visits. It is determined by what the two leaders decide when they meet. There is no rule that it must run its course.
“When we got to Botswana on Tuesday, President Jonathan had a tete-a-tete with the Botswana leader. They also had a bilateral meeting which bothered on mining, agriculture, trade and investment, arts and culture as well as the need to revive the Nigeria-Botswana Bilateral Commission.
“The President visited the mine in the country and had an interaction with Nigerians resident in that country.
“With that, his job was done. He left the country because he had done all he ought to do.
“There was supposed to be a business forum today (Wednesday) where ministers of the two countries will meet. Having delegated assignment to ministers, the President did not need to wait till today (Wednesday).
“He left because he had done his parts.”
Abati added that as at Wednesday, five ministers directly involved in the talks in Botswana were still in that country.
The ministers, according to him, are those of Agricultural Resources, Steel Development, Foreign Affairs (State), Culture and Tourism as well as Trade and Investment.
Meanwhile, independent investigation conducted by our correspondent showed that the President’s early return to the country was not in connection with Patience’s alleged ill-health.
Unlike what would be obtainable if he was disturbed, Jonathan entered the Council Chamber venue of the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday at exactly 10am, to the surprise of members and journalists.
Most times, the meeting does not start until about 30 minutes behind schedule.