The United States government yesterday demanded to know the health status of President Umaru Yar’Adua as secrecy continues to surround it. State Department spokesman, Philip Crowley said in a statement that “in a democracy, senior cabinet members and legislative leaders have a right to know the health status of their president and so do Nigeria’s citizens.”
The U.S. government voiced concern about the lack of public information about Yar’Adua’s health and urged Nigerian leaders to safeguard democracy.
“It is essential for the country’s leaders to avoid any actions that will imperil Nigeria’s last 10 years of democratic progress,” Crowley said.
“Nigerians have a right to expect their civilian and military leaders to work through their country’s democratic institutions, ensuring that the good of the many triumphs over the ambitions of the few,” he said in a statement.
Yar’Adua, 58, was last seen in public on 23 November last year. He spent 93 days in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment for a heart condition known as pericarditis before returning quietly on Wednesday, 24 February.
Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who became acting president last month after a controversial parliamentary decision, on Wednesday chaired a cabinet meeting in a move seen as consolidating his position.
The cabinet meeting made no mention of Yar’Adua’s lengthy absence and his health status. This has continued to elicit angry reactions from Nigerians. Not even the acting president, governors or ministers have seen Yar’Adua.
In the absence of any official communication, the prevailing view among Nigerians is that the ailing president is anchored on a life support machine and therefore incapacitated in carrying out his duties as President and Commander-In-Chief of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The widely held belief is also that the First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua and a few aides decided to bring Yar’Adua back to the country to negotiate how to retain influence and power, knowing that the president is not medically fit to govern Nigeria.
When ailing President Yar’Adua travelled to Saudi Arabia for medical attention on 23 November, 2009, a power vacuum was created which led to a constitutional crisis as the president did not send a written document to the National Assembly to transfer power to his deputy.
However, the National Assembly by a unanimous resolution on 9 February, 2010 conjured up ‘a doctrine of necessity’ by installing the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president. The action was based on a reported interview Yar’Adua granted the British Broadcasting Corporation in January that he would resume his duties as president of Nigeria as soon as his doctors gave him the go-ahead. The National Assembly took the interview as a notice that he was on medical vacation.