Fresh health scare as Buhari misses FEC meeting, Osinbajo presides

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President Muhammadu Buhari
  • Toshiba warns over its survival as it forecasts £7bn losses

President Muhammadu Buhari was absent at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, raising fresh concerns about his state of health.

He was in his residence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to preside over the meeting.

But the federal government has assured that there was no problem as Buhari was attending to other issues.

The Presidency had previously said that the president was working from the house when reports first emerged weeks ago that he had scaled down his activities due to ill health.

Briefing State House correspondents after the council meeting on Wednesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said Buhari did not attend FEC meeting because he was attending to other issues.

He said: “Clearly when we came in this morning, Mr President was not in the chambers but the Vice President did preside over the council meeting.

“Understandably, that has sparked a lot of controversies and imputations in the mind of people.

“I just want to make this clear, Mr President is in town. Mr President is attending to other issues. Mr President looked at the agenda, it was a very light agenda and decided that the Vice President should preside.

“It’s not unusual for the kind of interest that is shown especially given the fact that Mr President was away for a while on medical treatment and is not. We are not surprised that people will be wondering is he ill again?

“He is not ill, he is not sick. Am sure that later in the day or tomorrow morning he will be back in the office. I just want to clear that misconception.

“Is not unusual even if Mr President is hale and hearty and everything is going on well for the VP to come and preside over meetings of the federal executive council.

“The fact that Mr. President is not in the office does not mean that he is not working.

“I have just been told now that the Secretary to the Government is already with him in the residence working.

“So, the fact that you did not see him in the office does not mean that he is not working at all.”

In the meantime, Toshiba, one of the biggest names in consumer electronics, has warned it is facing annual losses of more than £7bn and the future of the company is in doubt as a result of financial turmoil at its nuclear power plant construction business.

The Japanese company finally released third quarter results, after twice delaying publication while auditors attempted to quantify the scale of the problems at Toshiba’s US nuclear engineering subsidiary Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy last month.

Toshiba took the unusual decision to publish them on Tuesday without the approval of auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata. The company said PwC Aarata had been too uncertain about the financial impact of Westinghouse’s takeover of nuclear construction company CB&I Stone and Webster in 2015.

Westinghouse’s plight stems from a $6.1bn (£4.9bn) writedown because costs have overrun on the two plants CB&I is building in Georgia and South Carolina, the first new US nuclear power stations for decades.

The unaudited results showed Toshiba’s total losses widened by 53bn yen to 532bn yen (£3.9bn) in the nine months ending December 2016, adding that losses for the full year ending March could amount to more than 1tn yen (£7.3bn). It would be one of the biggest losses in Japanese corporate history.

“There are material events and conditions that raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the company said in a statement.

Failure to file audited results fuelled speculation that the company could be forced out of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Toshiba’s president, Satoshi Tsunakawa, called the auditor’s decision not to approve the figures “truly regrettable” and said he hoped the company would not be delisted.

Toshiba is attempting to strengthen its balance sheet by selling other assets, including its memory chip business.

The company’s escalating crisis also heightened fears about the future of Toshiba’s planned Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria. Earlier this month it was forced to take full control of the venture behind the project, Nugen, after its previous partner, the French utility Engie, exercised the right to sell its 40% stakeunder an option triggered by Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing.

The  Citizen with additional report from Guardian

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