President Muhammad Buhari’s failing health will reportedly be the focus this week when the International Monetary Fund is expected to advocate swift reforms – a move that is likely to derail Nigeria’s hopes of securing $1.4bn in international loans.

A lingering illness had led President Buhari to cut his working day to a few hours since he returned from medical leave, slowing down the pace of economic reforms advanced in his absence, diplomats and government sources said.

The Nigerian leader was spending between one and four hours a day in his office to conserve his energy, three diplomats and presidency sources said – deepening concern he is too unwell to orchestrate reforms to the recession-hit economy.

Buhari has long been criticised by households and investors for his slow response to low global oil prices, which sent the naira tumbling and the broader economy into a tailspin.

When he travelled for treatment, his deputy embarked on steps to turn around Africa’s largest economy before handing back the reins on Buhari’s return seven weeks later.

“Things are slowing down, particularly on the economic front, which is a concern,” said one western diplomat.

An official in the president’s office said the 74-year-old was due to return to Britain for treatment in April. The presidency has not disclosed the nature of his illness.

Author: Yemi Olarinre