“The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” – 1 Thessalonians 5:2
It was a few hours before midnight in London, but close to midnight in Nigeria, a text message to my phone was quite simple but it effectively shunted back the hovering sleep in my eyes; “Yar’adua is coming home”!
Considering that AWOL is only seven days in the military and when you are away for 21 days, it is DESERTION and punishable by death, will Yar’adua be punished for deserting his post and bringing the country to the brink of constitutional disaster or will he continue as if nothing is amiss?
Yar’adua; like a thief in the night by Daniel Elombah
It was a few hours before midnight in London, and close to midnight in Nigeria, a text message to my phone was quite simple but it effectively shunted back the hovering sleep in my eyes; “Yar’adua is coming home”!
‘Ah ah, How manage’? I replied, but I got no further response even when I called back.
I would have ignored the message but for the usual quality of the messenger.
I forwarded a text message to a Presidential Aide: “Is Oga coming back tonight”? No response
Another message to another gentleman that I know would be extremely delighted with the news also met a brickwall, the man was obviously snoring away, happily oblivous of the hullabalo swirling around him.
Then I went to a place i knew will be abuzz with the news if true: Naijapolitics yahoo groups.
Sure enough Yinka Odumakin drew the first blood; ‘The presidential jet is reported to have left left Jeddah about 2 hours ago. It is unclear if Yaradua was on board. Ministers left Riyahd to fly direct to Abuja without getting to Jeddah. Presidential jet lands 3-4 hour. Eagle-eyed reporters should watch out’!
Thankfully, he proceeded to give an almost minute by minute up date on the intinery of Yar’adua and his entourage, from Riyahd to Chad to Kano to Abuja!
The question that sprang to my mind was Why the SECRECY…why MIDNIGHT?
What about the 6 members of the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, that travelled to Saudi Arabia to greet Yar’adua and prostrate before the king of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz.
It appeared that Yar’adua left ahead of the six members of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) team which travelled out of Nigeria on Monday to visit him at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah.
The Ministerial team was said to have first gone to Riyadh to meet with Aziz, but was met instead by the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister because protocol stipulates five days’ notice to meet him.
The team, according to sources, had no choice but to deliver a letter from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to the Minister for onward transmission to Aziz before it went on to Jeddah to meet with Yar’Adua.
Other questions followed: Is Yar’adua on life-support? Is there something people are hiding? Or there is more to President Yar’Adua being sick?
Gradually I gathered what happened last night: Ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua returned home secretly after three months’ medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
The plane conveying him landed at the presidential wing of Nigeria’s Abuja airport on Wednesday, hours after government sources said President Umaru Yar’Adua was due to return from a hospital in Saudi Arabia. He travelled with two Airplanes, one obviously an Air Ambullance.
The jet left Jeddah International Airport with him and his entourage at about 11 p.m. (Saudi time), two hours ahead of Nigeria for the six-hour flight. Umaru Yar’Adua took off from Saudi Arabia, where he has been undergoing medical treatment, in one plane, while Nigerian government envoys – sent by parliament to check on his health – travelled back in another, an official at Jeddah airport.
He shunned his own Presidential aircraft that took him out of the country for one provided by the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz, with his family members and security details.
At about 11.pm WAT Soldiers had evacuated the presidential wing of the airport before the plane landed. Some minutes before the jets touched down, the airport source of power was switched from public power to Generator. Security personnel were all over the airport including soldiers and men from the State Security Service.
A convoy of Presidential vehicles was parked at the the tarmac of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, supported by a ‘1.2 billion Naira Ford E-250 Ambulance’. At the airport to receive Yar’Adua were Governors Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) and Namadi Sambo (Kaduna)
Two planes landed from Jeddah at the presidential wing of Abuja airport in the middle of the night, where an ambulance was waiting on the tarmac.
In a surreal manoeuvre, that first aircraft switched off all its lights after landing and disappeared into a secluded area of the airport. The ground ambulance also switched off its lights as it slipped into the same corner as the first aircraft.
The planes were parked for a while on the runway near the bush and then the Ford E-250 ambulance was driven to the aircrafts. Yar’Adua was then secretly evacuated into the Ground Ambulance from the Air Ambulance. A convoy of cars with the ground Ambualnce left the Airport at 2:45 Am exactly one hour after the two aircrafts arrived Abuja.
There was no airport ceremony and the horde of journalists that thronged the airport was prevented from coming near the Presidential wing. An Ambulance propositioned at the Airport approached one of the aircraft and zoomed off.
With Soldiers everywhere, no one was allowed close to see the ambulance and stretchers or to catch a glimpse of the very sick Yar’adua! Soldiers and other securitymen drove away newsmen who had mounted vigil at the airport and along the route.
A gradual procession started from the airport to the villa at about 3.a.m in a convoy of about 7 cars with armed men.
Here ends my story:
Now, considering the manner that Yar’adua surreptitiously left the country, and the secretive manner of his coming back – now that Umaru Yar’adua has sneaked back into town, what is the position of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan? Will Jonathan Goodluck still be the acting president?
These are pertinent questions because Yar’adua’s state of health is unclear, and it is not known whether he wants to return to his post.
Have we now reached the climax in this interesting story? How will it unravel? Will Yar’Adua address the nation today? Will he walk to his office or will be carried into his office on life support? Do we have the real McCoy or is it a Yar’adua’s double?
Why would Turai Yar’Adua and her cohorts go this length and bundle her gravely ill husband onto an air ambulance?
More importantly, if as reported the acting president and commander-in-chief of the Nigeria’s armed forces was only informed after the deed is done, who then commanded the battalion that provided security at Abuja Airport and lined the route? Will The National Security Adviser and the Chief f Army staff that reportedly issue the commands actually receive and accept commands from Turai Yar’adua and keep Jonathan Goodluck in the dark?
If Yar’adua is subsequently held incommunicado, will the heads of the Nigeria armed forces subsequently accept command from Turai?
Will Yar’adua now contact the National Assembly and revert back to the status quo. Who is constitutionally in charge? Will the Heads of the National Assembly accept directions from Turai Yar’adua without actually hearing from Yar’adua?
Considering that AWOL is only seven days in the military and When you are away for 21 days, it is DESERTION and punishable by death, will Yar’adua be punished for deserting his post and bringing the country to the brink of constitutional disaster and or will he continue as if nothing is amiss?
The SECRECY of the whole saga is both sickening and mind-boggling; there is certainly a manner not to treat a nation’s president, even if he/she is on life-support. It is the height of irresponsibility.
Some Nigerians are asking; is there something people are hiding? Or there is more to President Yar’Adua being sick? Why embarrass and humiliate a country of 150 million (un)-intelligent citizens? And what is all the drama in aid of?
Whatever the denouement of this interesting drama, Nigeria cannot afford a walking-dead President. We heartily welcome his Excellency, President Umaru Yar’Adua back to the capital Abuja, if he is healthy enough to continue as president and commander-in- chief.
On the other hand, if the Turai and her cabal intend to bring back a “dead” president, who will be a ‘Kamuzu Banda’, that of course is unacceptable. Nigerians must insist on a seeing a Returning President, beamed live on NTA and AIT, walking through the tarmac of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, accepting greetings from an appreciative Nation, not one on life support- on a ‘1.2 billion Naira’ Ford Ambulance.
Nigeria needs a living and healthy president not one carried on a stretcher; anything short of this would simply be inviting avoidable crisis of governance and unacceptable!
I agree with a friend who said that the only climax to this cloak-and-dagger re-entry of Yar’adua is if he walks on both legs into an FEC meeting today, or else addresses the nation live.
The man is either well enough or not well enough.
Welcome home Mr President!!!