Senate raises questions over Yar’Adua’s death

A NUMBER of questions on the circumstances surrounding the death of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua were yesterday raised by the Senate which, however, rejected calls for a probe of the death. The former president died on May 5, 2010 and was buried in his home state in Katsina, the following day. During a special session held to honour the late president, Senate President David Mark, who

 described Yar’Adua as a good man, regretted that the way and manner information about his health was kept away from Nigerians gave room to speculations. He stressed that the controversies and confusion created in the last days of his life were exact opposite of all he stood for. 

“The late president was a public figure yet the nation was not adequately informed about his health status. This unfortunately provided a fertile ground for mischief-makers, rumour mongers and spin doctors of all kinds to feed the nation with fairy tales. Unfortunately, by a twist of fate, the death of this peace loving Prince of Katsina has raised more questions than answers. For example, why was he taken from a hospital in Saudi Arabia to the State House when he had not fully recovered to resume duties? Who were his medical doctors and handlers? Why were we not briefed on a regular basis on the status of his health? If I know the late Musa Yar’Adua very well, these controversies, questions and confusion are the exact opposite of what he would have wished”, he said. 

Mark said Nigerians were expecting the late president to assume work based on the information that he was recovering only to be informed about his death, adding that the government owed the people explanation.

“We were expectantly waiting for the resumption in office of our president having been assured at various times that he was recuperating, only to be confronted with the shocking news of his death. Clearly, the Federal Government owes the nation an explanation on the shortcomings surrounding the management and handling of our late president when he took ill. The Federal Government must provide answers to these questions to avoid a repeat in future”, Mark said. 

He described the late president as a noble and humble person who had unfettered access to wealth but did not plunder it. He commended him for holding tenaciously to the rule of law and good governance. According to him, Yar’Adua did not only refrain from interfering in the affairs of National Assembly but practised the rule of law. 

Recounting some jokes he shared with the late Yar’Adua during the session, the Senate President said while the president sometime called him “president, he would reply by saying “sir, my own starts with a small ‘p’.”

In his speech titled: “The passing away of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua”, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, called for a probe of the death of the late President so that all alleged wrongs could be put right. Also in his prayers, he asked that delegations be sent to Katsina and Aso Rock Villa for condolence visits. 

His words: “As we pay respect to our late and dear president, distinguished colleagues, the nation deserves to know exactly what happened so that we can put speculation to rest for ever. Some questions that cries for answers are: 

What exactly was the ailment that killed our President?;

Did he have the best possible medical treatment?;

Why did his handlers prefer Saudi Arabia to Germany where he was receiving treatment initially?;

Was he recovering in Saudi Arabia?;

Why was he brought home in February?;

Was he truly aware of the things going on around him?;

Who was behind the policy of denial of access to our president from the time he left Nigeria in November till his death?; and

What was the reason for the denial of access to all those who had sought to see him especially his vice president?

He was our president. We need to clear our minds and ensure that such embarrassment will not arise again in this country.” 

The Senate, however, rejected the prayer calling for a probe of the death saying that it would inflame unnecessary passion. The chamber also set up two committees of 12 members each to visit Katsina and Aso Rock to commiserate with the family and the President, Dr. Jonathan. The Aso Rock delegation is headed by Senate President while the Katsina delegation is led by the Deputy President of the Senate. 

All the senators who spoke during the session were full of praises for the late president especially for the observance of rule of law and restoration of peace in the Niger Delta..