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President Buhari's Absence Is Looming Large In Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses members of his cabinet upon his arrival at the presidency last month in Abuja, Nigeria.

Nigeria's president hasn't been seen in public for more than a week and he's missed his third straight cabinet meeting. That's got Nigerians wondering what's going on with his health.

Muhammadu Buhari is under increasing pressure to "disclose the nature of his illness to the nation," NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. She says some prominent Nigerians are demanding that he take medical leave amid questions about his fitness to govern.

The president's wife, Aisha Buhari, took to Twitter to try to calm the growing health concerns. "I wish to inform everyone that his health is not as bad as it's being perceived," she wrote, adding that her husband "continues to carry out his responsibilities."

As Ofeibea reported:

"This follows a call by 13 influential civil society leaders for President Buhari to take the time he needs to recover, after seven weeks medical leave in Britain earlier this year. They note an apparent deterioration in his health after Buhari failed to attend the last two cabinet meetings and Friday's prayers and did not deliver Monday's annual worker's day speech."

He missed his third straight cabinet meeting this morning. A tweet from the presidency's verified Twitter account indicated that the vice president led the meeting.

After Buhari returned from medical leave in March, he told reporters that he had never been so sick, according to the BBC. And while he hasn't revealed his condition, he mentioned receiving blood transfusions, The Associated Press reports.

"The 74-year-old returned to work in mid-March but often works from home, according to aides," according to the AP. "The uncertainty over Buhari's health has raised fears of instability in Africa's most populous nation and one of its top oil producers."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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