Zubair Ali, who claimed to be the President’s first cousin and the family spokesperson, told Al-Jazeera that he met the President drinking tea when he had access to him at the weekend.
The People’s Democratic Party said a Muslim from the north should be its candidate in next year’s presidential election, ruling out acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
Meanwhile the Executive Council of the Federation and the Nigeria Governors Forum have told Mrs Dora Akunyili to shut up as the six man delegation which was sent to Saudi Arabia to ascertain the health status of President Yar`dua, today submitted its report.
Speaking with the Satellite Television, Al Jazeera this morning, Zubair Ali, who claimed to be the President’s first cousin and the family spokesperson, said he was given permission last weekend to meet with Yar’Adua after his return.
Ali said the president was able to walk, talk and eat. He claimed that he even asked after his relatives and asked him to convey his gratitude to them for their support and prayers.He said: “When I met him, he was able to eat by himself, talk, walk.
He asked after his relatives and thanked them for their prayers. He asked me to greet them”.The Yar’Adua family spokesperson said the president’s health has improved and that he is recovering ‘’very well’’.
He even told Al-Jazeera that he met the President drinking tea when he had access to him at the weekend.
Asked why the president has remained inaccessible to even the acting president, Zubair said: “I don’t know anything about that’’
But today President Yar’adua failed to attend a meeeting of the Executive Council of the Federation as the acting President Jonathan Goodluck failed to dissolve the cabinet nor remove any of the ministers today, as planned, probably due to yesterday’s intervention by the amorphous Governors Forum
Nigeria’s ruling party wants a Muslim from the north as its candidate in next year’s presidential election, ruling out acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
The People’s Democratic Party said a southern Christian had led Nigeria for eight years and that it was “proper” for a northern Muslim to do the same.
PDP leaders have agreed that candidates must alternate between the two faiths.
Mr Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta, is in charge as Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim, recovers from ill-health.
The 58-year-old president returned from a hospital in Saudi Arabia last week, but his condition is unknown and it is unclear when he could resume official duties.
“ Goodluck Jonathan is steering the ship of the nation very well. He is not an ambitious person ” said Vincent Ogbulafor, PDP national chairman
Under an unwritten power-sharing agreement within the PDP, the party’s candidates for the presidency should alternate between north and south after every two terms in office.
Mr Yar’Adua, a Muslim from the northern state of Katsina, became president in 2007, succeeding Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian who served two terms.
“The south had the presidency for eight years and it is proper to allow the north to have the presidency for eight years,” PDP national chairman Vincent Ogbulafor told reporters after a meeting with officials late on Tuesday.
“[Mr Yar’Adua] is still the president. Goodluck Jonathan is still the acting president. What we discussed has to do with 2011,” he said.
Correspondents say the announcement effectively prevents Mr Jonathan from seeking election in April next year, regardless of Mr Yar’Adua’s fate.
The president has not been seen in public since late November, when he left Nigeria for treatment of what his doctor described as acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.
Despite his ill-health, Mr Yar’Adua did not follow the constitutional steps that would have granted his vice-president temporary powers in his absence.
It was only on 9 February that the National Assembly appointed Mr Jonathan as acting president, allowing him to sign legislation, chair cabinet meetings, reshuffle ministers and release oil funds.
Last Wednesday, Mr Yar’Adua was flown back to Abuja, again causing confusion among officials despite a statement from his spokesman that Mr Jonathan would continue to serve as acting president.
Mr Jonathan, who has not said whether he intends to seek the presidency, has not seen the seriously-ill leader since he returned.
“Goodluck Jonathan is steering the ship of the nation very well. He is not an ambitious person,” Mr Ogbulafor said.
“The president just came back and he has given him time to recuperate. He will see him at the appropriate time.”
In a related development, the six man delegation which was sent to Saudi Arabia to ascertain the health status of President Yar`dua, today turned in its report.
The report reads:
1) Recall that on the 17th of February council constituted a six man cabinet delegation to visit President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia . They were also to convey the appreciation of the government and the good people of Nigeria to the Saudi Monarch for the care and support given to our President.
2. Membership of the delegation was as follows:
(i) Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, CFR, Leader of the Delegation
(ii) Chief Ojo Maduekwe, CFR, Member
(iii) Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, CFR, Member
(iv) Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, Member
(V) Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin,OON Member
(vi) Dr. Abba Sayyadi Ruma, Member
3. Preparatory to this visit the acting president had addressed a letter to the Royal Majesty, King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , introducing the delegation as a special envoy from the presidency. In the letter, the acting president conveyed the profound appreciation and deep gratitude of the government and the entire people of Nigeria to the king, for the kindness, hospitality, fraternal care and excellent facilities extended to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
4. The delegation reported that they departed Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja , early hours of Tuesday, 23rd February 2010, some minutes after midnight. On their arrival in Riyadh , Saudi Arabia , they were received the Nigerian Ambassador, Alhaji Abdullahi Aminchi and the Royal Protocol Personnel and driven straight to the Conference Palace , where they were accommodated.
5. Prior to their arrival, the Nigerian Ambassador has secured appointment for them to be recived by His Highness, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs at 18.00 hours on the 23rd February, 2010. The Foreign Minister received us on behalf of the Saudi King and re-affirmed the commitment of the Saudi Government to promoting good relationship with Nigeria . He also assured the delegation that the Health of President Yar’Adua was improving. The delegation thanked the Saudi Foreign Minister for the warm reception and the hospitality which the kingdom accorded to them and delivered the Acting President’s letter to him, for onward transmission to His Royal Majesty, King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.
6. Thereafter, the Nigerian Ambassador, Alhaji Abdullahi Aminchi informed the delegation that he had received information that President Yar’Adua had been discharged and was on his way back to Abuja . From all indications, the President must have departed Jeddah Airport at about 10 pm, Saudi time on Tuesday 23rd February 2010. With news that the President had left Saudi Arabia for Nigeria , the delegation did not consider it necessary to proceed to Jeddah, where the President was hospitalized. Accordingly, they decided to return to Nigeria .
7. The delegation departed Riyadh at about 5.30am on Wednesday 24th February 2010 and arrived Abuja at about 10.30 am.
8. The Acting President was accordingly briefed on their return.
SECRETARY TO THE
GOVERNEMNT OF THE FEDERATION,
Head of Delegation
1st March, 2010.
The FEC and the Governors Forum censored the Minister for Communications and Information Dr (Mrs) Dora Akunyili, claiming that her utterances is heightening tension in the country.
It would be recalled that the Honourable Minister for Information and Culture gave a candid and insightful interview over the weekend to Media Houses in Nigeria entitled: ‘Nigeria Must Rise Against This Cabal’ wherein she gave a Candid and Open about the Inner Workings of a Nigerian Government.
The Interview was also aired in Nigeria Television Stations
The Nigerian president has failed to appear at a cabinet meeting in the capital Abuja, after returning to the country from Saudi Arabia following three months of medical treatment.
Umara Yar’Adua’s supporters had hoped he would show up at the meeting on Wednesday. The meeting, however, was chaired by Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, who is acting as the head of state.
Yar’Adua has not been seen or heard in public since his return on February 24, fuelling speculation that he is incapable of carrying out his job.
His silence has led many Nigerian newspapers to continue reporting that Yar’Adua is on a life support machine or in a coma.
There is also speculation that the president’s aides and family are holding him hostage in the presidential villa until they can figure out how to retain influence and power in the event of his death.