Written by Mohammed S. Shehu:
Many people who came to the National Mosque, Abuja yesterday to catch a glimpse of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’adua left the mosque disappointed. As early as midday, politicians, journalists and even worshipers started trooping into the mosque very early in order to get access to the front row or strategic position to enable them see the president.
Those who couldn’t make it into the mosque formed new rows in front of the VIP entrance to the mosque, all in a bid to see the president.
Although Speaker Dimeji Bankole and Secretary to Government of the Federation Mahmud Yayale Ahmed regularly attend the weekly prayers, the presence of former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali, Former Head of the Nigerian Security Organization and presidential aspirant Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Deputy National Chairman of the PDP (North-West), Bello Haliru Mohamed, some politicians and large number of photo journalists reinforced the speculations.
The rush to see Yar’adua, Weekly Trust gathered, followed early morning speculation that the president was billed to make his first public appearance in months at the Mosque during the weekly Juma’at prayer.
“I just came in to pray but my friend told me the President was coming that is why I have to pray here (front of the mosque) in order to see him,” a worshiper said. Weekly Trust gathered that the action may not be unconnected to a report by a national daily yesterday of concluded plans by loyalists of the president to convey him to the Friday Juma’at service.
The speculation was further reinforced by the unusual presence of anti-riot police and road safety officials at the main entrance of the mosque. Parking spaces were also secluded, further giving the impression that the president was truly on his way to the mosque. Even when the president didn’t show up, newsmen refused to leave the premises of the mosque after the prayers until everyone in the front row came out from the mosque.
Yar’adua has not been seen in public since he was flown out of the country on the Friday November 23, 2009 to Saudi Arabia for a heart condition and his subsequent return to the country in the early hours of Wednesday, February 24, 2010.
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