Members of the House of Representatives who travelled to Saudi Arabia on Sunday on a goodwill visit to President Umaru Yar’Adua were denied access to the President.
A reliable source close to the team told one of our correspondents on Thursday that the team was billed to return to Nigeria today.
Our correspondents learnt of this just as the leadership of the House paid a solidarity visit to Ag. President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
Our source, who is very close to the House delegation, said that after spending four days in Saudi Arabia, the members were only able to see the President’s wife, Turai.
“They have tried to see him (Yar’Adua) but did not succeed, after waiting for four days. They will be coming back tomorrow (Friday) and will make their report public on Tuesday,” the source said.
Our corespondents authoritatively gathered that when it was apparent that they would not be able to see the ailing President, the team members resolved to hold a special prayer for his quick recovery.
It, was, however not clear where the special prayer took place.
THE PUNCH had exclusively reported on Monday, January 11 that the President’s family signed a “non-disclosure order form” which forbids the King Faisal Hospital in Jeddah from releasing information on the President’s illness to the public or allowing visitors other than his wife, Turai; his Chief Security Officer, Muhammed Tilde; and his Aide-de-Camp, Mustapha Onoedieva to see the President, who is believed to be on a life-support machine.
There had been reports of how the Saudi Arabian authorities had mounted an unbeatable security around the President since his health worsened within the last two months he had been hospitalised.
The House had resolved to send the delegation as part of its fact-finding efforts on the state of health of the President.
Yar’Adua, who left the country on November 23, 2009, is spending his 81st day in the oil-rich Arab country.
The delegation, which is led by the Deputy House Leader, Mr. Baba Shehu Agaei, has the Minority Leader of the House, Mallam Mohammed Ndume; Mallam Jibrin Adamu; Mrs. Nnena Ukeje (who was later dropped), Mr. Patrick Ikhariahle; and Mr. Fatai Moruf as members.
Each member of the team was picked from each of the six geo-political zones in the country.
The lawmakers were said to have been received by the Nigerian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Abdullah Aminchi, who drew up their itinerary.
Attempts to confirm from the House if the information on the lawmakers’ failure to meet Yar’Adua had reached the leadership, were unsuccessful on Thursday.
When contacted, the Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Mr. Eseme Eyibo, said he could not confirm if the team had contacted the leadership of the House on its visit.
“I am out of town and shall get back to you after confirming or otherwise,” Eyibo said in a short text message to one of our correspondents.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the House led by the Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, on Thursday said it would support the Ag. President in the discharge of his functions.
Bankole, who led some principal officers of the House to Jonathan, said, “The House is going to work with the Acting President to ensure that the promises made to Nigerians to deliver the dividends of democracy are executed.”
The Speaker further assured Jonathan that, as representatives of various constituencies in the country, they were determined to work with him “to ensure that things are done properly to move the country forward.”
Responding, Jonathan charged all the arms of government to work together in order to provide good governance and democratic dividends to Nigerians.
He said the doctrine of separation of powers did not mean that the arms of government should operate in isolation of one another.
Jonathan also noted that in the current situation in the country, the National Assembly could not allow the democratic process to derail.
He said, “Though the political scientists are talking about separation of powers, they cannot really separate the executive from the parliament even in the presidential system of government.
“We belong to the same political family and under the same political party; there is no separate manifesto for the executive and the legislature.
“My advice is that we should work together for good governance and deliver democratic dividends to Nigerians.”