The web of secrecy woven around ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua might have been thicker than many Nigerians envisaged and dated far back than now as it has been revealed that First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua even barred highly favoured individuals, including the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki together with a governor–in-law, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi and Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema from seeing him when they visited Jeddah late November, 2009.
A highly placed source revealed that the First Lady just refused to bend the rules in favour of anybody to stave off any attempt to exploit the situation on ground to the detriment of the family.
The tension generated by the sudden movement of the president to the Arabian country and his condition, even in those early days were said to have made the first family to decide on strigent measures to keep away prying eyes at bay.
According to the source, ” Even those governors who rushed to Saudi Arabia with the intention to see Mr. President were barred by the First Lady from seeing him. It could have been because of the state of the president, which then was considered pretty frightening and she did not want to expose it for anybody to use the condition of the president against him.”
Besides, the source revealed that part of the reasons the First Lady acted the way she did was because of a conspiracy theory even within the inner caucus to the effect that she had gotten wind of the immediate actions of some political figures back home in the first four days of the president’s departure to Saudi Arabia.
“You will not believe this, but she was actually warned to be wary of visitors from Nigeria, especially political figures, irrespective of their position and status. And she did just that; whatever you heard after that was just part of the game to make people believe that we are the ones there and try to take credit for what they never did,” the source revealed.
Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia on Friday, November 23, 2009 for a medical check-up, having suffered acute pericarditis (inflammation of the covering of the heart) after a Jumat service.
The President has since then been receiving treatment at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah.
Saraki, the other governors and some members of the kitchen cabinet had left for Saudi Arabia to see the president in what was supposed to be a get-well visit and to have first hand information on the state of health of the President.
Mafia running Nigeria in Yar’Adua’s absence
For about 55 days, there has been a vacuum at the nation’s highest administrative echelon due to President Umar Yar’Adua’s absence. The president is in Saudi Arabia taking treatment for pericarditis (inflammation of the heart covering).
Yar’Adua left the country on November 23, 2009 without handing over to the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. A certain source alleged that the ailing president actually sent a letter to the National Assembly to transfer power to his deputy, in acting capacity. However, the letter was intercepted and the plan frustrated.
With the letter not getting to the National Assembly, Jonathan can only perform Yar’Adua’s functions but can’t be acting president. Indeed, while eminent Nigerians continue to express concern over the vacuum created at the presidency and the foot-dragging by those who should initiate the process to ensure that Jonathan takes over, in acting capacity, those at the corridor of power continue to insist that the apprehension being expressed is misplaced as government functions are going on well.
However, the crux of the matter is that many people who are currently in the corridor of power owing to Yar’Adua benevolence do not want to be out of favour. Such people fear that a transfer of power to Jonathan may see them out of office. Therefore, they want Yar’Adua to hang in, while they stand aside as the power behind the throne.
Indeed, in the last 55 days that Yar’Adua has been away, these people are calling the shots at the apex of power.
He is the Attorney General of the Federation. By virtue of his office, he is the nation’s number one law officer. Since his assumption of office, he has been a subject of criticisms. His actions and utterances have also set him on warpath with his immediate constituency, the Nigeria Bar Association. Since the president’s absence, the number one law officer has dismissed agitations for the take- over of the office by Jonathan. Aondoakaa’s interpretations of both sections 144 and 145 of the constitution, regarding the process for the take-over of the president’s seat, has been viewed as appalling by eminent lawyers. The AGF told a bewildered nation that nothing in the statute book confines Nigerian president to rule from within, as Yar’Adua can govern from anywhere in the world.
Before now, Aondoakaa had entrenched himself in government and appeared to be untouchable. Despite the criticism, the Federal Government believes that he is serving his purpose. It was gathered that the services of the AGF cannot be dispensed with because of the role he played in the case against Yar’Adua’s election. He is believed to have swung the tide in favour of the president.
Former governor of Delta State is one of the most influential individuals in the present government. He is touted as a major financier of the election that produced the ailing president. Pay-back time came for Ibori when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC and the Metropolitan Police were hounding him for prosecution over alleged malfeasance when he was governor of Delta State. It was gathered that Ibori is among those always consulted by Yar’Adua before major decisions are taken. Also, he is believed to be among those consulted now that Yar’Adua is in hospital.
Sources revealed that before Yar’Adua took ill, an arrangement had been evolved for him to be the vice presidential candidate in Yar’Adua’s re-election bid. The coast appears now clear with the quashing of the corruption charges against Ibori.
Alhaji Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi
The affable chief economic adviser to the ailing president is a force to be reckoned with at the presidential villa. A source disclosed to Saturday Sun that some members of the cabinet often sound him out on issues to know the president’s stand. This is so because he has the president’s ears. During the week when the rumour gained currency that Yar’Adua was dead, many prominent Nigerians had to get in touch with Kurfi to know the truth. It was his words that they eventually found reassuring.
Alhaji Sarki Mukhtar
By the virtue of his position, Mukhtar, Nigeria Security Adviser, is also one of the trusted confidants of Yar’Adua. He has been responsible for shielding and sieving intelligence information on the state of Yar’Adua health. He has the ears of the president’s wife, Turai.
Alhaji Abba Ruma
The current Minister of Agriculture is a trusted ally of the president. The profile of the ministry has been on the rise since his assumption of office, as he gets his bidding done within the presidency. Ruma is from Katsina State and served with Yar’Adua when the president was governor.
Hajia Aisha Dukku
The unassuming Minister of State for Education is a trusted friend of the first lady, Turai Yar’Adua. Her clout is made manifest in her influence at the education ministry despite being a junior minister, as it were. With the support of Mrs. Yar’Adua, Dukku is among the few people who are briefed on government matters even before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is briefed. She gets first hand information about the condition of President Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia and always has her way in matters she is interested in.
The First Lady is seen as the defacto president of the country. With her husband in and out of office, she is believed to be at the centre of decision making. Apparently a student of ex-United States president, Woodrow Wilson, whose wife wielded much influence when he was ill, Turai is said to be involved, indirectly, in running the government. Those close to power know this and always defer to her. Her influence would explain the turn-out and support she got during the launch of her national cancer centre in Abuja. At the launch, almost al wealthy Nigerians as well as politicians attended and donated generously.
In government, it is believed that any minister or official who falls out of favour with Turai should, as well, start packing his or bag and baggage. Sources revealed that the first lady is among those who oppose the idea that Yar’Adua should relinquish power temporarily to Jonathan. Her opposition to Jonathan’s assumption of office as acting president is believed to be, partly, owing to the personality clash between her and the vice president’s wife. Recently, when General Babangida’s wife died, Turai sent a delegation led by a governor’s wife to commiserate with the former military president. She did not include Jonathan’s wife in the delegation.
Alhaji Abdullahi Gambo
Alhaji Gambo is Nigeria’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He closely worked with Yar’Adua in Katsina. He is a trusted ally of the president, which explains why Yar’Adua chose Saudi Arabia as country where he goes for medical treatment. Among Nigerian envoys, Gambo is believed to be one of the most influential. He is said to among the few that take decision on major matters, despite the fact that he is abroad