President Umaru Yar’adua spends some hours every day sitting in a hard-backed chair in an upstairs sitting room of the State House’s residential wing surrounded by nephews, nieces and grandchildren who run up and down the stairs, Daily Trust learnt yesterday from sources familiar with the set up. Since his return to the country on Tuesday last week, the ailing President has been in near-total seclusion inside the State House. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan again said yesterday that he had not seen Yar’adua since he returned to the country.
Daily Trust learnt that contrary to reports that Yar’adua is completely bedridden or even held in an intensive care facility, he makes some minimal movements within the residence and that he has been seen by some very few personal aides. On Thursday last week, sources said, Yar’adua received some staff members. He sat on a chair while they greeted him and said some prayers for his quick recovery, the sources said.
Daily Trust also learnt that in the early evening hours, the lights were suddenly switched off in the corridors around the residence, and it was believed that Yar’adua was taking an uncertain walk around the house. The sources said while he is able to speak, the president is very weak and it is difficult to hear him.
Meanwhile, the tight seclusion imposed on the residence since Yar’adua’s return is very effective with almost no outside visitors allowed in. Daily Trust’s sources said except for the cries of children, there is no activity around the residence. No ministers, governors or other politicians have paid a visit since Yar’adua’s return.
However, maintenance crews from the construction giant Julius Berger, which manages the State House, are sometimes allowed in to carry out electrical, plumbing or other repairs. They only go in at times specified by security operatives. Outside the residence though, the maintenance crews continue to water the flowers, sweep the yards and trim the hedges.
At the weekend, State House officials heard that Yar’adua was about to pay a visit to his hometown, Katsina in order to greet his mother, Hajia Dada. There were some signs of preparation as cars were seen lined up in the driveway, but sources said the trip did not take place for unknown reasons.
Activity around the President’s office has also been very low since Yar’adua departed from Saudi Arabia last November. The three top shots in Yar’adua’s office, namely Principal Secretary David Edovbie, the Senior Special Assistant on Presidential Matters Saraki and the Special Assistant on Housing Development have all been redundant since November, when the president left the country. However, sources said activity picked up around Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s office when the National Assembly passed a resolution declaring him as the Acting President. Since Yar’adua’s return last week, Jonathan has also reduced the pace of activities around his office and few visitors go there these days.
Another source told Daily Trust that Yar’adua could finally make a public appearance at tomorrow’s Federal Executive Council [FEC] meeting, not to preside over it, but to thank the ministers for their support and prayers. It may also be the joker to squelch any moves by some FEC members to declare him permanently incapacitated.
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