By George Oji:
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has been directed by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to continue to run the affairs of the state, presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said yesterday.
Jonathan had to cancel the weekly Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) meeting yesterday as confusion reigned supreme among ministers.
Adeniyi said Yar’Adua’s return to the country followed the clean bill of health given him by his doctors. Yar’Adua said while he completes his recuperation, Jonathan should continue his work.
Yar’Adua, who came back to the country early Wednesday morning after spending 93 days at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, receiving medical treatment, has not been seen by anyone apart from his close aides.
The six-paragraph statement by Adeniyi read: “After being discharged by the team of medical experts overseeing his treatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Umaru Musa 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 generosity 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 Ebele 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 re-assure 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.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, who was among the six-member delegation sent to Saudi Arabia by the council last week to visit the ailing Yar’Adua, walked into the council at exactly 12.12 pm to announce the cancellation of EXCOF meeting without advancing any reasons.
Yayale, who said the directive was from Jonathan, urged the ministers to return to their offices and reconvene at the Vice-President’s conference room at 2.00pm, while also stressing that the meeting was “compulsory”.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to inform you that the Acting President has cancelled the meeting. He has directed all ministers to attend a special meeting in his conference room. The meeting is mandatory to all ministers,” Yayale said. When the meeting held by 2.00pm, it lasted for just about 14 minutes.
Addressing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Information and Communications Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, said Jonathan informed them that he would be meeting with the wife of the President, Hajia Turai Musa Yar’Adua, yesterday evening, ostensibly to find out the state of affairs after being unable to meet personally with his boss.
Akunyili said Jonathan further informed them that he was told by Yar’Adua’s aides that the President came back to the country early yesterday morning.
The minister said: “He (Jonathan) invited us for a meeting in his meeting room at 2pm and when we came he told us that the President has returned. He has been briefed by the aides of Mr. President and that he hopes to see the wife of the President this evening and that when we meet next week, we will be briefed on the outcome of the Saudi trip by the members of council. And that when he is eventually briefed by our President, he will call us again.”
Yayale was the only member of the six-man team that showed his face at yesterday’s Council. He was believed to have proceeded to the meeting upon their arrival from the trip to Saudi Arabia yesterday morning.
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