PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua, on Wednesday, officially announced his arrival in Nigeria from Saudi Arabia, where he had gone for medical treatment. However, he stated that he would not take over the running of government from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan until after his recovery.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, the president said his Saudi Arabian doctors had discharged him and that he returned early Wednesday morning.
Yar’Adua also thanked members of the National Assembly, Nigerian groups and security agencies for their roles in maintaining law and order while he was away.
Full text of the statement reads: “After being discharged by the team of medical experts overseeing his treatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Umaru Yar’Adua returned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, early this morning.
“President Yar’Adua wishes to express his profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their prayers for his recovery, their exceptional generousity of spirit and their appreciation of the fact that all mortals are subject to the vagaries of ill health.
“President Yar’Adua is grateful to the vice-president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, for competently overseeing the affairs of state in his absence.
“The president also wishes to thank the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the entire membership of the National Assembly, the Governors’ Forum, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces and other security agencies, former heads of state and other eminent Nigerians for their roles in maintaining order and stability during his absence.
“President Yar’Adua wishes to reassure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved.
“However, while the president completes his recuperation, Vice-President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state.”
Meanwhile, this week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) was cancelled by Acting President Jonathan after keeping ministers and cabinet members waiting for more than two hours.
Ministers, who as expected, came early, began waiting before 10.00 a.m., the commencement time of FEC meeting and stayed till 12.15 p.m. when the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mallam Yayale Ahmed, announced the cancellation.
The SGF, who was part of the FEC delegation to Saudi Arabia, walked into the Council Chambers and said, “the acting president has directed me to announce that this council meeting is postponed.
“Accordingly, we are to go back to our offices. A special meeting with the acting president with all ministers in attendance is being convened by 2.00 p.m. in the acting president’s conference room. Attendance is mandatory. Thank you and God bless,” he concluded.
The meeting was fully attended and the absent ministers were the six sent to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Cabinet members started arriving for the meeting early on Wednesday with some smiling while others wore long faces.
Ministers who are known to be pro-Yar’Adua were once again seen smiling and chatting away after more than two weeks of carrying long faces over apparent loss of influence as a result of the absence of the president.
The acting president was said not to have shown up in his office until afternoon, same with his personal aides, fuelling speculations that he might have decided not to attend the FEC because he was not sure in what capacity he was to attend.
Yar’Adua’s aides became very visible from early in the morning and it was obvious they had taken over from the VP’s men who were nowhere to be seen around the council chambers.
Yar’Adua’s aide-de-camp (ADC), chief security officer (CSO), spokesman and other aides were running round to put everything in order for the much-expected appearance of the president to chair the FEC meeting but he did not show up.
The Commander-in-Chief’s seat, which was the one meant for the president, remained unoccupied throughout the waiting period. Jonathan had been sitting in it since he was made the acting president, a development which was said to have angered Yar’Adua’s loyalists.
Meanwhile, the plan by the kitchen cabinet of President Yar’Adua to turn Acting President Jonathan into a surrogate was said to have been the major reason Jonathan cancelled the FEC meeting, on Wednesday.
Jonathan, according to sources, insisted that he must hear directly from his boss and cannot take orders by proxy.
The development, which was described as a set-up by government sources, played out when two aides of the ailing president walked to the acting president’s office and told him that the ailing president had asked him to go and lead the FEC meeting of Wednesday.
But Jonathan refused to carry out the said order. He was said to have attempted to reach his boss without success and then communicated to ministers that the FEC meeting had been put off.
He also gave the order that the ministers should meet with him in his office by 2.00 p.m, with the hope that he would have seen Yar’Adua by then.
At the 2.00 p.m meeting with the ministers, Jonathan informed them that with the return of President Yar’Adua, there was the need for him to see him, adding that there could not be two Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces in the country.
Sources said the plan by those who invited Jonathan to lead the FEC before hearing from Yar’Adua was to precipitate crisis at the FEC meeting, such that the scenario would be painted that Yar’Adua’s men and Jonathan’s men were fighting over the control of the presidential seat.
Some diplomatic sources, on Wednesday, said the plot was tantamount to orchestrating an undemocratic move as a result of the said scuffle which might have occurred.
“They wanted to precipitate a crisis to create the scenario that the two leaders were fighting over the president’s seat. That could be very dangerous for the survival of Nigeria’s democracy,” the source said.
Another source said Jonathan, who had read a book on the gang of four, which ruled China by proxy while Chairman Mao was sick, would not want to be a victim of “the president said.”
“When the two presidential aides came to the acting president to tell him that the ailing president said he should lead the FEC, they did not know that the man has read the Gang of Four written on the activities of the group of four who ruled China by proxy when Chairman Mao in China was sick. He did not want to do anything without hearing from his boss,” the source said.
Sources also said what happened in Nigeria, early on Wednesday, was near military takeover, as the powers of the acting president and Commander-In-Chief were breached when some persons deployed soldiers without informing Jonathan.
There was said to be confusion as to who deployed the soldiers between the Chief of Army Staff and the Chief of Defence Staff, but sources said men of the 4th Battalion of Nigerian Army, as well as the Guards of the Brigade Garrison, were deployed and armed without informing the acting Commander-in-Chief.
“That is what happened, but it is never done. If there is a Commander-In-Chief, it is through that hierarchy that orders can be given. Over 25 vehicles were used to convey troops numbering over 300 men.
“At the airport, they sealed off the place and took over the whole international wing. All roads leading from the airport to the Presidential Villa were blocked with soldiers manning every 100 metres. They drove away journalists and protocol men from the presidential wing,” a source said.
How Yar’Adua arrived
A source vividly described the scene at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in the early hours of Wednesday.
“When the air ambulance conveying President Yar’Adua arrived, only the Ford ambulance was allowed to move close. He was conveyed on a stretcher in an ambulance to the Presidential Villa. It took 50 minutes for the officials manning the air ambulance to move him into the Ford ambulance because of the gadgets on him.”
Yar’Adua brought in unconscious
It was gathered that the ailing president was brought in unconscious and he was yet to regain his consciousness on Wednes-day evening.
Sources close to the government informed the Nigerian Tribune that as of 2.00 p.m on Wednesday, the man was not aware of situations around him, adding that the decision by the kitchen cabinet to bring him to the country was aimed at stalling some decisions which they said were to be taken by Jonathan.
It was gathered that the decision to relocate the ailing president was aimed at ensuring that power reverted to the kitchen cabinet.
Jonathan not aware of Yar’Adua’s coming
Besides the plot against his control by the kitchen cabinet, it was gathered that Acting President Jonathan was not officially told of the return of the ailing president.
He was said to have been informed by diplomatic and other sources.
It was gathered Jonathan got information from diplomatic sources and he spent most of Tuesday night talking to power blocks in Nigeria and others across the world.
He was telling them that the country was stable and that there was nothing untoward that would happen to the country.
Senate leadership cancels parley with Jonathan
The leadership of the Senate was to hold a parley on the state of affairs in the country with Jonathan, on Wednesday night, but the parley had to be called off, following the unexpected arrival of President Yar’Adua.
No official word came on the cancellation of the parley.
Fear of OBJ, impeachment
It was also gathered that the fear of impeachment by the National Assembly and the fear of former President Olusegun Obasanjo bouncing back to reckoning in a Jonathan presidency led the kitchen cabinet to take the only available option of forcing Yar’Adua home.
There is also the information that the Saudi authorities came under serious pressure from the international community on why it was hiding Yar’Adua from the Nigerian delegations.
Ship of state on course
Acting President Jonathan has assured Nigerians that the ship of the state was on course.
Speaking at the State House, Abuja, on the return of President Yar’Adua, he commended Nigerians for their prayers, both for the president and the nation.
He said the president’s return was a pointer to the fact atht the prayers of Nigerians were being answered.
Jonathan called on Nigerians to continue to strive for the well-being of the nation, adding that “it is at a time like that that all patriots must rise to the occasion and place the interest of the country above every other considerations.”
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