Life and death tales follow Nigeria’s President Yar’Adua to Saudi Arabia, again
USAfricaonline.com Special report by CHIDO NWANGWU. @Chido247
November 25, 2009: Nigeria’s President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, is back in the news as the subject of increased chatter across Nigeria’s international communities and inside the country’s capital city of Abuja on the twin-issues of the Fulani prince’s health condition and capacity to lead and serve as the leader of the country’s almost 220 million citizens.
The confluence of the Nigerian president’s health issues and the performance of national and international duties have also remained matters of debate and concern.
This time, he left late on Monday November 23, 2009, arriving next day on Tuesday November 24 and admitted for his renal, heart condition known as acute pericarditis, and asthmatic medical needs. President Yar’Adua’s media/communications assistant Olusegun Adeniyi’s formal statement as the president departed Nigeria indicated the President’s Saudi trip includes “follow-up medical checks.”
The Nigerian presidency, according to the Lagos and Abuja correspondents of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com, is sensitive to the mounting speculations and polite inquiries following another of Yar’Adua’s urgent medical trips and admissions to the familiar Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah.
Across different private and public platforms for Nigerians, and through phone calls, e-mails and text messages to the USAfrica newsroom in Houston, USAfricaonline.com and across its four main e-groups especially Nigeria360@yahoogroup since November 23, 2009, we have witnessed debates linking President Yar’Adua’s latest, sudden medical check up trip to Saudi Arabia as symptomatic of his inability to maintain a strong, hands-on grip on the affairs of the country.
In the light of the realities of the President’s health, Nigerians continue to seek answers to the mounting questions being raised
First, how medically fit is Nigeria’s president?
Second, how does his health impact his capacity to, operationally, govern Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy?
Third, who handles the levers of government in the presidency when, as we have seen, the president is himself indisposed?
Fourth, what is the reality of authority and power inside the Nigerian presidency?
Fifth, what are the actual capacities and putative roles of the Vice President of the country, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in these dynamic configuration of things?
Sixth, what circles of immediate influence shape the outcomes at the Nigerian presidency under Yar’Adua — especially when he’s indisposed?
Privately, the key members of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) express concern about the President’s capacity to execute his own 7-point agenda/program amidst the demanding task of leading the PDP’s large, diverse, cantankerous and complicated structure and partisans.
In a brief chat with USAfricaonline.com, a major co-leader of the PDP from Kaduna State who played a critical role in fighting former president Obasanjo’s failed 3rd-term shenanigans said: “He will complete his term, Insa’Allah. (Insa’Allah is Arabic for God willing). And aside from the human factor we’re also concerned about the president’s health and how it affects the North’s opportunity and ongoing turn at providing the president. We pray for his recovery and healing.”
The Action Congress (AC) party -led by Obasanjo’s former VP Atiku Abubakar – has never been subtle in expressing concern over the health of President Yar’Adua and its impact on governance. AC’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed argues that Yar’Adua’s incapacity to present the 2010 budget this week to the National Assembly requires and validates the call for a full disclosure on the President’s health: “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 that will fuel rumors, as we have now seen.”
But Senator Ayogu Eze of the PDP Enugu State argues “there is no indication for us whatsoever that the president is unable to discharge his responsibility. So far we do not have any evidence that the president cannot do his job so why should we pry into that.” Eze, chairman of the Senate’s Information committee adds “The health of the president is a constitutional issue and it is only a health board of enquiry that can determine the fitness or otherwise of the president, the composition of that board is very clear.”
On his part, the chairman of the U.S chapter of the PDP, Prof. Bernard-Thompson Ikegwuoha told USAfricaonline.com and Nigeria360 e-group that “It’s wrong and improper to add the president’s health to the issues for politicking in Nigeria. He deserves our compassion and should be commended for seeking and getting the best medical attention to be able to serve Nigerians better. Everything cannot be and should not be politicized.”
Another critical voice is that of the opposition party ANNP Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau who told me/USAfricaonline.com and CLASSmagazine during our November 2009 exclusive interview that the issue is not the private health of the President: “we are focused simply on the issue of his public performance and service to Nigeria. Everyone knows that Yar’Adua and their PDP government have failed Nigeria. There’s no light or security…. They do not have passing marks; even the members of Nigeria’s national assembly, their own party members have indicated so. What are they talking about? They have failed”
Like Dr. Shekarau, Yar’Adua served as governor (of Katsina State, from May 1999 to May 2007). Yar’Adua was handpicked and reportedly “pushed” by his predecessor Obasanjo to become President of Nigeria through a controversial Nigerian presidential election in April 2007, assessed by international observers as rigged and neither free nor fair. He was sworn in as president on May 29, 2007. He was born on August 16, 1951, into a family of political heavyweights of Fulani descent in the north central state of Katsina (at the time the old Northern Nigeria).
Despite the health issues, Nigeria’s largely indisposed President is also being positioned by some who benefit from his continuing role as president to seek a 2nd 4-year term, come 2011.
The latest, preceding background to the issues and reports about the President’s health status occurred on Tuesday September 22, 2009 when he made as priority one of his personal-cum-official trips to Saudi Arabia over his scheduled attendance of the very important event of the 2009 United Nations’ General Assembly meeting in New York same week/period. His handlers publicly noted and announced that his mission to Saudi Arabia was for the cause of education, specifically to commission the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and by the way get some medical care for asthma.
The more urgent question for Nigerians is how soon President Yar’Adua will return to take charge of the ship of state amidst competing and clashing interests across the various arms of government.
Also, they raise questions over deteroriating security, kidnapping and the epileptic energy/power supplies across Nigeria.
Even as Nigerians await his return, rumors of his mortality continue to fly. Truth is Nigerians love rumors; tales of death and dying; true or false, they trade in them….
We wish President Umar Yar’Adua speedy recovery!
•Dr. Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal, USAfricaTV, AchebeBooks.com, and several blogs/e-groups. He served as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates. e-mail:Chido247@Gmail.com
President Obama, hate-mongers and mob cons. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, www.Achebebooks.com, CLASS magazine, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV, and the largest digital images/pictorial events domain for Africans abroad www.PhotoWorks.TV
USAfricaonline.com goes richly interactive with new look, content….
By Alverna Johnson. Corporate Affairs, Houston:
On 10/10/09, the major redesign and addition of richly interactive options will go fully live on the award-winning web site of the first African-owned, U.S-based professional newspaper published on the internet, www.USAfricaonline.com
“The importance of this latest interactive re-positioning of USAfricaonline.com is to fully tap into the advantages of the digital world to benefit our community and readers. Especially, the key issue and leverage is that we have and own unique content; and with this initiative, USAfrica advances, further, the immigrant African views and news into the international media and public policy mainstream. It leverages the global resources of USAfrica, again, into the electronic frontline of critically informed, responsible discourse and seasoned reportage of African and American interests as well as debating relevant issues of disagreement”, notes Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of USAfricaonline.com, AchebeBooks.com, The Black Business Journal, USAfrica.TV and CLASSmagazine.
“Some of the new features on USAfricaonline.com have enabled for our readers and bloggers, the live texting of pages and page links to phones and other multimedia devices, instant sharing across all the leading social networks especially Facebook, Twitter, digg, myspace, Mixx, Technorati, LinkedIn, AIM, LiveJournal and Yigg.”
Chido Nwangwu, recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in May 2009 and analyst on CNN, VOA, SABC, highlights other advantages as “live RSS feeds and e-syndication of the USAfrica reports and premium content. In terms of graphics and structure, the new USAfricaonline.com has visually refreshing headers and crisp pictures. We’ve also added more columnists, regional news correspondents and incisive special features writers. The site will be updated regularly, especially for significant breaking news.”
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