By Elizabeth Archibong, Terfa Tilley-Gyado and Elor Nkereuwem:
Forty eight hours after his arrival in Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua, the country’s ailing president, is still living in the Ford mobile ambulance which took him from the airport to the State House. The president was unceremoniously brought into the country via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, under the cover of darkness in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after a three month medical vacation in Saudi Arabia.
Sources in the presidency confirmed that the president will only be moved into his official residence when the frantic work going on to complete a state of the art Intensive Care Unit (ICU) within the State House, is concluded. As exclusively reported by NEXT, there has been increased activity in the State House since Sunday after several trucks were spotted going in and out of the place.
Mr. Yar’Adua is expected to be moved into House 10, a section of Aso Rock Villa where an ICU is being prepared to help keep the critically ill president alive.
Mr. Yar’Adua, who is believed to be suffering from the Churg- Strauss syndrome, a progressive medical condition which has now affected his kidneys, heart, skin, and lungs, has reportedly been on a life support machine for the past three months. Reliable sources in the presidency say that the president cannot be taken off the life support machine, hence his continued stay in the Mobile Ambulance.
Meanwhile, the confusion in the presidency continues to grow after it emerged that the scheduled meeting between the first lady, Turai Yar’Adua and the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Wednesday did not hold. It is believed, however, that the meeting was re-arranged for yesterday night.
This was confirmed by a source who said, “Around 7.00pm yesterday (Wednesday), when the team went to the president’s residence, the woman 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 that Jonathan did not go anywhere that night. “He did not go, but I don’t know why,” the source said.
The source however said that, “What the Acting President wants to do is to welcome her back and get briefing on the president’s health from her. He also wants 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.”
A lull in the capital
The uncertainty in the presidency has extended to different ministries. Several offices in the Federal Secretariat were virtually lifeless on Thursday as the general mood of uncertainty spread quickly across the Federal Capital.
An official at the Federal Ministry of Works confirmed that no one seemed to know what to do.
“Normally, we have a morning briefing but that did not happen today and no explanation was given. There were a lot of worried looking people around. I am not sure if the president being back is a good thing.”
In Aso villa, the once boisterous environment was a virtual ghost town. Only a handful of ministers were spotted visiting the Acting President. The Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Adetokunbo Kayode, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Bagudu Hirse, the Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, Minister of Defence, Godwin Abbe, and National Planning minister, Shamsudeen Usman, were the only Executive Council members seen at the villa.
Another set of visitors came at about six in the evening, including the chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Vincent Ogbulafor, and the publicity secretary, Nuhu Alkali.
A few of the ministers appeared visibly concerned by the current status quo.
One minister, who showed his displeasure, said: “I am aware that the meeting did not hold and do I look like am happy about it?”
However, a statement by the Senior Special Adviser to the Acting President, Ima Niboro, said people are misconstruing the impact of the meeting between Mr. Jonathan and Mrs. Yar’Adua.
“This is to clarify the comments made by the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, when he met with members of the Federal Executive Council yesterday on the return of President Umaru Yar’Adua. The Acting President had said that he was briefed by the President’s aides that he was resting after the journey, but that he (Acting President) intended to meet with the first lady, Turai Yar’Adua later in the day to say hello to the family. These remarks seem to have been widely misinterpreted in some quarters, hence this clarification.”
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