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24 days after, Ministers still can’t reach Yar’Adua

From right, Women Affairs Minister, Hajiya Aisha Salamatu and other Ministers during special prayers for the early recovery of ailing President Umaru Yar'adua as the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council opened at the Aso Chambers, State House, Abuja. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.
From right, Women Affairs Minister, Hajiya Aisha Salamatu and other Ministers during special prayers for the early recovery of ailing President Umaru Yar'adua as the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council opened at the Aso Chambers, State House, Abuja. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

By Leke Adeseri, News Editor Henry Umoru & Daniel Idonor
ABUJA—TWENTY- FOUR days after he was taken to Saudi Arabia for medical attention, the hide-and- seek game over the state of health of President Umaru Yar’Adua continued yesterday with top Federal Government officials preferring that Nigerians be silent over the all-important issue for which virtually no information has been released.
Very worrisome, however, is the fact that since Yar’Adua left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia, none of his cabinet members had spoken with him.

Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State and the President’s in-law and Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Isa Yuguda, who went to Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Governors’ Forum, came back without a clear picture of the situation with the nation’s number one citizen.

However, the Federal Government, yesterday, declared that God was answering the prayers of Nigerians for the quick recovery of their President, who has been receiving treatment at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; saying that “he is responding to treatment and that is true.”

FG cautions media

Fielding questions from State House Correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, cautioned the media over their too-much emphasis on the health of the President.

The minister’s comment on the President’s state of health coincided with the Federal Government’s earlier plan to “clarify the media on the alleged pressure on Yar’Adua’s close aides to appeal to the President to address cabinet members and the nation via video conference from the Middle-East,’’ a plan that was, however, aborted without explanation.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, had told reporters before the meeting of his intention to clarify issues relating to the proposed video conference, as soon as the meeting ended.

But, he was nowhere to be found after the FEC meeting as he refused to show up at the briefing room during the post-FEC meeting which was attended by Akunyili, her Agriculture and Aviation counterparts, Alhaji Abba Ruma and Mr Babatunde Omotoba respectively. He was said to have told his colleagues that he was rushing to Jos, for official engagement.

FEC meeting    briefing not for Yar’Adua — Akunyili

A visibly worried Akunyili disclosed that the reason behind the post-FEC briefing every week was to announce to Nigerians current efforts by the government to grow the nation’s economy through vital policies and infrastructural development and not emphasis on the President’s health.

from the left, the head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsanye; SGF, Mallam Yayale Ahmed and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in a solemn mood during the special prayers
from the left, the head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsanye; SGF, Mallam Yayale Ahmed and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in a solemn mood during the special prayers

“The essence of the Council meeting and this briefing is service delivery and I want us to focus more on what we are doing, as for Mr. President’s health, our position has not changed.

Last week, I was asked the same question and I told you that he is still in a Saudi Hospital, he is responding to treatment, thank God, and it is the doctors that will actually determine the date that he will return to Nigeria,” she noted

She, therefore, appealed to the media and indeed, Nigerians to exercise restrain
in commenting on the President’s health; decrying that the matter of his ill-health had gained too much attention among Nigerians.

“So, I will appeal to all of us not to over-emphasise whether the President is sick or not, the emphasis is getting too much, let us emphasise on the projects that we have presented to you. You can ask questions on them, and we clarify grey areas; that is why we are here.

“I don’t think it is necessary for us to continue saying one thing over and over, because nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed is that he is responding to treatment, well, it is the same, last week. I told you he is responding to treatment and that is true.

“Today, it is the same comment, it hasn’t changed, and I honestly want to thank you for your prayers because most Nigerians are actually praying for Mr. President. Yes, our prayers are being answered, he is responding to treatment,” she stated.

Also commenting, Ruma, generally believed to be a close confidant of the President, expressed deep concern over the way and manner the issue of Yar’Adua’s ill-health had generated controversy; warning that Nigerians should note that Yar’Adua was not Nigeria’s first President to be hospitalised.

“This is not the first time the President of Nigeria is sick, at a time there was a president that left this country for three months to attend to his health and nobody contemplated about his removal or resignation.

”The law is also very clear about this, except perhaps due to our sentiments, whims, caprices and emotions.

“I believe you have the capacity; I believe you have the knowledge-based disposition to have another look at this on the basis of facts, on the basis of what should be placed on the table for Nigerians to come to terms with on this issue.

Nobody is saying you don’t have the right to know, we do appreciate the anxiety,” he remarked.

“The truth about this matter is that, in all other democracies, not only in the Nigerian democracy, what has been the reality when such had happened before?

How was it resolved in other places? I believe that should be the issue,” he said.
The Council had during its deliberations approved contracts for the revised estimated consultancy services and the framework design to complete the Zobe water supply project in Katsina State from a total cost of N79.8 million plus Euro 343,666 to N205.6 million plus Euro 623,932.


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