By Godwin Ifijeh:

The United States’ State Department Thursday restated its concern about the “uncertain” medical condition of President Umaru Yar’Adua and the future of Nigerian democracy.

It is “essential” for Nigeria’s civilian and military leaders “to avoid any actions that will imperil” Nigerian democracy “as well as the accomplishments that have been achieved under civilian rule,” State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said in an e-mailed statement.

The Nigerian president “has not been seen publicly or met with members of his cabinet or any of his country’s key political leaders, generating additional unease about the stability of the country and physical capacity of the president to lead the government,” Crowley said.

Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23 for the treatment of a heart condition and has not been seen in public ever since, even after his return to the country on February 24.
In his absence, the National Assembly appointed Vice President Goodluck Jonathan acting president on February 9 to head off a constitutional crisis in the country.

Jonathan on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation in a move seen as consolidating his position. But the cabinet meeting made no mention of Yar’Adua’s lengthy absence.
“Senior cabinet members and legislative leaders have a right to know the health status of their president and so do Nigeria’s citizens,” Crowley said.

In contrast, US President Barack Obama underwent a routine physical on Sunday. The White House announced afterwards that he was in good health, but that his LDL cholesterol level had crept up and that he was trying to quit smoking.
According to the statement, the US also applauded Nigerian leaders who had taken steps, in the absence of Yar’Adua, to restore confidence in the country’s political system while adhering to democratic principles.

“We welcome Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to electoral reform, anti-corruption, post-amnesty programmes in the restive Niger Delta, and justice for the perpetrators of sectarian violence and extra-judicial killings,” the statement read.

It said: “As Nigeria deals with its current political crisis, it is essential for the country’s leaders to avoid any actions that will imperil Nigeria’s last 10 years of democratic progress as well as the accomplishments that have been achieved under civilian rule.
“Nigerians have a right to expect their civilian and military leaders to work through their country’s democratic institutions, ensuring that the good of the many triumphs over the ambitions of the few.”

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