Nigeria's Buhari chairs first cabinet meeting after return

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari smiles as he resumes work following seven weeks of medical leave, in Abuja, Nigeria March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari chaired his first cabinet meeting on Wednesday since returning from medical leave last week, approving a plan to develop the West African nation's non-oil industry.

Buhari, 74, has had no public appearances outside the presidential villa since coming back on Friday from London where he had been treated for seven weeks for an undisclosed illness.

Buhari called for two ministers for Christian and Muslim prayers before the national anthem was played at the start of the closed-door meeting before reporters were asked to leave the room, all of which is the usual practice at cabinet meetings.

He did not address the media after the two-hour meeting.

Trade and Industry Minister Okechukwu Enelamah told reporters the cabinet had approved to set up a council working with the private sector to expand Nigeria's non-oil industries.

The council will be chaired by Buhari's deputy Yemi Osinbajo, who won plaudits for driving policy changes as acting president during Buhari's medical leave.

In that time, Osinbajo travelled to the Niger Delta oil hub in a bid to calm tensions with militants who have attacked oil facilities - a region Buhari had been accused of neglecting - and concluded an economic reform plan required for a World bank loan. He later said he had Buhari's backing for his actions.

Buhari, who first led the country from 1983 to 1985 after

a military coup, was elected two years ago. Since then he has traveled to Britain several times to consult doctors although details of his illness have not been disclosed.

Top political posts in Nigeria are traditionally shared

to reflect the country's geographic and religious divisions.

Buhari is a northern Muslim, while Osinbajo is a pastor from the

mainly Christian south.

(Reporting by Feix Onuah and Alexis Akwagyiram; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Julia Glover)