Nigerians Worry Over President Yar’Adua’s Health

Nigeria’s opposition wants the presidency to “come clean” on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health.Umaru Yar'adua

Nigerian official says President Umaru Yar’Adua, known to have a chronic kidney problem, traveled to Saudi Arabia for a Muslim pilgrimage and a medical checkup.

Nigeria’s opposition wants the presidency to “come clean” on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health.

The Nigerian leader is in Saudi Arabia for medical examinations.

Reports say the Nigerian president is undergoing medical tests at a hospital in the western seaport city of Jeddah. An unidentified doctor was quoted as saying President Umaru Yar’Adua was admitted Tuesday. The doctor declined to give more details on the president’s health.

Yar’Adua’s office has said in a statement the president will call on his personal physicians while on a visit to Jiddah for “follow-up medical checks.” The main opposition Action Congress urged Nigerians to, as it put it, “Pray fervently for the president’s good health so he can face the tough task of governance.”

The party is also seeking clarity on the state of the president’s health, saying the presidency should come clean on the issue.

Mr. Yar’Adua, known to have a chronic kidney problem, traveled to Saudi Arabia Monday night for what his spokesman said was for a Muslim pilgrimage and a medical checkup.  Last year, Yar’Adua, reportedly spent a lengthy stint at a Jeddah hospital.

Abuja-based political analyst, Maxi Okwu, says most Nigerians are concerned about the government’s handling of the issue.

“The president of Nigeria is a public figure and all that concerns him should be in the public domain,” said Okwu.  “But since Umaru Yar’Adua became president they shrouded his obvious health problems in mystery. He has a health condition which he shrouded in mystery, which can only happen in a sort of caricature democracy we practice here. Some time ago, he disappeared for two weeks.”

This is President Yar’Adua’s third visit to the Middle East country in as many months for medical treatment, raising fears about his fitness to lead Africa’s most populous nation. His supporters and the government have said Mr. Yar’Adua is in good health and fit to rule. Already, there is talk the president is likely to run for re-election in 2011. Okwu says this may not be in the best interest Nigeria.

“They should seriously advise him against going for second term in the interest of himself and in the best interest of Nigeria,” added Okwu.

Before taking over from Obasanjo in 2007, Mr. Yar’Adua was a little-known governor of the northern state of Katsina.  His health has been a source of constant speculation in the Nigerian media.

Many Nigerians feels the President should forget about a second term in office and take care of his health.

The President,s party, People,s Democratic Party (PDP), through its spokesman, Alhaji Raufu Alkali, last week described members of the party jostling to replace the president, come 2011,  as a bunch of jokers, because there is no vacancy in Aso Rock in 2011.

This statement by the PDP spokesman got many Nigerians who are clamouring for a change in the nation’s leadership as a result of non performance of the Yar’Adua administration angry. Many of them have called on the president to forget about coming back in 2011. 

They advised him not to heed to the advice of sycophants in his administration who are urging him on for a second term.In its reaction to the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Action Congress (AC) expressed deep concern over the health of the President. But it renewed the call on the presidency to come clean on the state of health of the President, to stem the kind of rumour making the rounds, and which has now been published by a national newspaper, that the President’s frail health led the Senate and the House of Representatives to contrive their ongoing face-off over the venue for their joint sitting for the President,s presentation of the 2010 budget.

What started as a rumour last week – and which we failed to believe – has now been elevated to the level of a news story in a national newspaper, that the two chambers of the National Assembly faked their face-off so the President, whose health is allegedly deteriorating, would not have to present the 2010 appropriation bill in person.

This very serious allegation has grave implications for our country, and we demand immediate clarification from both the presidency and the leadership of the National Assembly. If indeed this impasse is the result of a collusion between the executive and the legislature, then there is no hope for this country, AC said.

The party said it is simply unthinkable that the leadership of the National Assembly will stoop so low as to instigate a ruse impasse just to sell a dummy to the Nigerian public and to the entire world.

The questions on the lips of Nigerians are: If indeed it is true that the impasse is a ruse, what motivated the leadership of the assembly to be a part of this monumental act of deceit? Did money change hands, and if so how much? Has governance now become a game of lies?

The party said if, due to his state of health, the President cannot present the budget to the National Assembly, Nigerians must be fully briefed, in the spirit of transparency.

AC said the reason it had always insisted on a full disclosure on the President’s health is to prevent this kind of ugly rumour.

We have said that the President is a human being who can fall ill at any time, and that his ill-health cannot be used against him. But since the President is the father of the nation, we – his children – must be fully kept abreast on his state of health. Failure to do thatwill fuel rumours, as we have now seen, the party said.

In his own reaction, Lagos lawyer, Barrister Festus Keyamo said: First of all the president has a duty to come clean before Nigerians regarding his state of health, for at least two reasons. First, he is a public property. The president is no longer the husband of Turai, he is no longer the father of his children but he is the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigerians deserve to know his state of health because he is spending public money on his health, flying abroad with public money, as such the public deserve the right to know the state of their president’s health. They need to know if the president illness is a life threatening one.

Secondly, he can never know where help will come from. Maybe there is no need for him to run overseas each time his health fails him. The solution to his ill-health may be at his backyard.

Considering his state of health, the president does not deserve a second term. Nigerians need to know the state of health of the president asking for a second term.  They have to know the person they want to trust their power (votes) upon; what is wrong with him.

In an article I wrote on February 4, 2009, I said:

“It could actually benefit Yar’ Adua to be very open with his sickness. Is he going on a sick leave? Let him tell us. Does he need to travel abroad for his treatment, we would pray for his safe return. Is he getting better or worse? We would pray for his speedy recovery.

“Nigeria itself is on life support, and unfortunately, a sick president Umaru Yar’ Adua has proved to be far too infirm to provide the leadership which a very sick nation thoroughly deserves.

“World economy is in recession and tottering on the brink of disaster; Oil glut, massive financial losses, collapsing companies adds to the woes. In Eastern Europe and China, there are demonstrations and rioting at the losses. All the worlds’ leaders are putting their best feet forward. Most are gathered in Davos right now looking for a solution.  But what are we doing in Nigeria? Engaging in squabbles about the constitutionality of a sick president notifying the National Assembly before going on vacation! Have we got no shame?

This is a moment that calls for dynamic leadership. In fact, the question is not whether Yar Adua should go for a second term but whether we can really afford a sick president”?

Barrister Alex Agbaka, in his reaction, said one of the cogent reasons by which the President of a nation can be removed from office is on health ground.

Therefore, it is rather unfortunate, he stated, that the president has refused to declare to the nation his ailment. For the mere fact that the president is constantly ill shows that he is not fit to govern this nation. If Gani Fawehinmi who did not hold a public office can disclose his health status to the public, there is nothing stopping the president from doing so, he opined.

In recent times, there have been a conflicting signal from the ruling PDP itself. The party said there is no vacancy in Aso Rock and at the same time asked party members to stop campaigning for the president’s second term, he said.

Barrister Oluwole Kehinde described the statement by the PDP that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock as dictatorial because democracy entails people vying for positions. Instead of campaign for a second term for the president, they should allow him to take good care of himself, he submitted.

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Paul Ogundele, said going by the provisions of the 1999 constitution, any public office holder must be of good health and sound mind. 

Therefore, the decision by the president to go to Saudi Arabia for medical check up confirmed the position of the human rights community that the president is sick, he said.

He disclosed that human rights activists are working on originating summons in a couple of weeks for an order of the court to declare that the president is not fit to continue to office. In view of this, the issue of going for a second term does not arise. PDP should stop the campaign, he added.

In her reaction, the National President, Campaign For Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, said Yar’Adua should resign and go and take care of his health instead of putting the nation in jeopardy, adding that the president is just being teleguided by a clique.

We want him alive, he should just resign and take care of his health.  His sickness is affecting this country. And because of that, the country is sick. He should forget about a second term, she stated.

President, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Comrade Debo Adeniran, lamented that Nigerians have decided to tolerate a sick president, saying that it was unfortunate that the people we did not elect took over power. We should just force him out of power if he did not die before 2011. Nigerians should be allowed to choose thier own leader”.

There is no democracy in this country and the people are hungry. We should resist him for a second term in office. If we make the same mistake twice, we have a problem, he stated.

National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said the time has come for the president to step down and take care of his health because he is embarrassing this nation by his frequent medical checkup abroad.

According to him, the country is drifting and nobody seems to be in charge, adding that he should just resign and take care of his health and forget about a second term in office.

The Publicity Secretary, Action Congress, Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, said: The man is not too well, he should take care of his health.  We cannot manage his health. He should leave office and go and take care of his health. I will advise him to forget about a second term.

Yerima Shetima, National  President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum said: I’ve always said it that the president is not fit to lead the country. The truth is, he is not well.  Once you are sick, you are sick and therefore, he cannot lead the country to the promised land. People calling for his second term in office are not wishing him well.

In a civilized country, he might be allowed to rule, especially with the kind of slow pace his administration has taken so far. All I know is that he is being pushed by political subordinates who are taking advantage of his ineffectiveness to enrich their pockets and this is causing a lot of havoc to the nation.

Paul Afolabi Gbajumo, Lagos State Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP): The president should leave to focus more on his ailment, rather than plunge the country into more crisis. The way it is, except for those who want to kill him, I don’t think his health will permit him to go for a second term. We should rather pray that he should be able to complete this one term.  He should not allow his aides to push us to die early.

An anonymous Nigerian, perhaps, some would say cruelly, wrote: 

Many Nigerians are suffering because of the massive loot by leaders and their families. Our people drink organic material filled water,” jedejedi” is troubling our children (I remember the number of worms I stuled as a child and the number of children that instead of excrement expelled long worms from their body product of water borne diseases.

Our leaders instead have medical cover in Los Angeles, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, France etc.We all shall die and go to our maker someday, I wish the President long life but that depends on the commandment of God, I can only recommend the the President that by living on machine support, he must face the call of His maker and do the right thing, before he goes, let him make sure the looter of Nigeria go before the court, IBB, Ibori, Abdulsalam, Abacha, Soyekan, Obj and many other.

The President should win paradise and send the thieves to court. He may win healings form it. The heads of the innocents will then pray for him. The spirit of those children , women, and men who died because of poverty will pray for him. All the President’s wealth meant nothing and cannot give him recovery.

All the money of Nigeria and the world as a whole cannot heal the President of his illness, but the spirit of those who dies of poverty because politicians blew up public fund on prostitutes and beer can call on God like Abel to grant the President some years more to enjoy the fruit of the labour.

The spirit of those killed by Khadafi will pray for him, the spirit of Nigeria drowned trying to cross into Europe will pray for him. And when Nigeria rises form the grave, Nigerians shall declare a holiday  fro this President on all those that died in poverty, trying to cross into Europe, died in the Sahara in search for greener pastures, executed in Saudi Arabia and Moslem countries for drugs and also during oru useless and sinful civil war.

Mr. President! Send the thieves and anti-people’ s cartels to court and you will win Paradise and all the people will speak well of this President just as the Odu Ejiogbe reads “Atèwe, àtagbà, enu iyo no nwon yìó máa fi so tèmi o”.