By Ayo Okulaja and Idris Akinbajo:
The meeting between Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and Turai Yar’Adua, wife of the president, at the weekend, was devoid of recrimination and bad blood, a source close to the Presidency told NEXT.
During the meeting, Mrs. Yar’Adua focused on the themes of loyalty and betrayal. The meeting, which was attended by Mr. Jonathan with his wife Patience, was said to be brief and straight to the point.
The acting president was still unable to see the ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who had arrived in the country two days earlier.
The weekend meeting between Mr. Jonathan and Mrs. Yar’Adua was the first time they would be seeing each other since the president was ferried into the country in the early hours of Wednesday last week. He was told that the president was yet to recover from jet lag.
The Presidency source quoted Mrs. Yar’Adua as waxing philosophical, telling Mr. Jonathan that “The lessons of the past three months have shown how not to over trust people and to be wary of the loyalty of many aides.”
She regretted that because of jet lag, her husband could not see visitors and expressed her appreciation for the concern, promising to convey their good wishes to her husband.
According to our sources, the first lady, who credited “Allah’s will and support” for her ability to cope through this difficult time, also told the acting president that, throughout his three months’ absence, the main thoughts on her husband’s mind were just how “incredibly loyal you have been and how excellently you were doing in handling matters of statecraft.”
She commended his loyalty, and urged him to be careful so that the excellent relationship that had grown between her husband and he would not be fractured “at this very difficult time in the history of our country.”
Moving away from her husband’s troubles briefly, Mrs. Yar’Adua asked Mr. Jonathan about his family.
Failure to meet
This was the second attempt by the acting president to see Mrs. Yar’Adua. During his first attempt, Mr. Jonathan and his wife could see neither the president nor his wife. They two were said to have retired to bed even though the acting president had communicated his intention to visit through the president’s chief security officer, Yusuf Muhammed Tilde, and his Aide-de-Camp, Mustapha Onoyvieta.
Mr. Jonathan was to meet with the president’s wife after the arrival of the ailing president from Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Wednesday, 24th of February. This was disclosed by the minister of information and communications, Dora Akunyili, after an abridged meeting between Mr. Jonathan and the cabinet of ministers, which lasted for less than 10 minutes.
But the meeting did not hold as the acting president did not go to the venue of the meeting.
According to our sources, at around 7pm on Wednesday, when the acting president’s team went to the president’s residence, “the woman (Mrs. Yar’Adua) was not ready to come down for any meeting, so Jonathan’s aides went back to their boss to report the situation. It was then that the meeting was put off.”
Another presidential source confirmed this. “He did not go, but I don’t know why,” the source said.
It is believed that the meeting was re-arranged for the following night.
The source confirmed that, “What the acting president wanted to do was to welcome her back and get briefing on the president’s health from her. He also wanted to show solidarity with the family and to make her understand that there is no rift between him and the Yar’Adua family. But I think people may have misinterpreted the whole thing.”
Where’s the boss?
Mr. Jonathan has not been in physical contact with the president since he embarked on a medical vacation to Saudi Arabia more than three months ago. Furthermore, there has so far been no report of any sighting of the president since his return to Nigeria on Wednesday.
The president is believed to be enclosed in a mobile Intensive Care Unit on the grounds of the presidential villa. The acting president was also completely unaware of the plans to return Mr. Yar’Adua to Nigeria until a few hours before the air ambulance conveying the ailing president landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, early Wednesday morning.
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