By Daniel Idonor & Henry Umoru
ABUJAâ€”VICE President Goodluck Jonathan said he spoke with the ailing President Yarâ€™Adua â€œbriefly on Tuesday evening, precisely at 8:00 pm.â€ He told the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which held yesterday.
The Minister of Information and Communication, Professor Dora Akunyili made the disclosure while briefing State House Correspondents.
Asked to tell Nigerians the present condition of the presidentâ€™s health, she said that she had said all she knew.
Meanwhile, the vice president who always arrived on time to chair the FEC meeting was, yesterday, behind schedule due to another meeting he held behind closed-doors with the Governors Forum at his residence. The meeting lasted for about two hours.
As early as 8:30 a.m. the governors elected under the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP), and led by chairman of the Forum, Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, stormed the vice presidentâ€™s residence in a long convoy. By 9:30 a.m. when the meeting ended, the governors, in the same manner they came, zoomed out while the vice presidentâ€™s convoy also left residence to attend the FEC meeting.
Details of the meeting, however, remained scanty, as no participant was willing to go into details on what the governors discussed with Jonathan.
Vanguard, however,Â spoke to the chairman of the Forum, Dr.Â Saraki who said â€œthe meeting went on very wellâ€ adding that details of the meeting would be made public by the vice president at the appropriate time.
But an impeccable Presidency source said the governors came for a solidarity visit and to reassure the vice president of their support and cooperation in the face on the growing political quagmire in the country. The source added that the issue of the health of the president was discussed with the VP in addition to other pressing national issues occasioned by the absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua.
On Tuesday night, the governors met to review the current situation in the country and the Wednesdayâ€™s meeting with Jonathan may be to brief Jonathan on the decisions taken at the meeting, the source said.
El-Rufai, 96 others petition Saudi King Abdullah
Meanwhile, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El_Rufai and 96 other Nigerians in diaspora haveÂ written to King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saoud requesting him to tell Nigerians the whereabout of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua who is currently undergoing treatment for heart related disease in a Saudi hospital.
The petitioners in the letter which was made available to newsmen in Abuja said their appeal was necessitated by the desire by Nigerians to know the whereabout of the President who has been away for six weeks now.
They also cited being subjected to half disclosures by government officials since the Presidentâ€™s departure to Saudi Arabia in November, 2009.
The letter reads:Â â€œIn the Name of God, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. We the under-listed concerned citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria address this open letter of appeal to your government to reveal to Nigerians the exact location and state of health of our President, Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua who we believe has been your guest and patient in one of your hospitals since November 23, 2009. This open letter of appeal has become necessary because a nation of nearly 150 million has not seen or heard of its president
for six weeks without any credible information.
â€œYour Royal Highness, Umaru Yarâ€™Adua is not a private patient but our president and an employee accountable to millions of people. Information about his physical and mental well-being cannot be subject to the usual medical confidentiality of any ordinary citizen.
This information should not be kept secret from the people he leads. Sadly, we must admit, that our current government has failed to be truthful and transparent about the extent of infirmity of our president.
â€œIn the eyes of many Nigerians, the Saudi government has, by default, become part of the conspiracy of secrecy that threatens to destabilize our democracy.
Because without information on whether the president is alive or dead, permanently or temporarily infirm, the appropriate provisions of our Constitution cannot take effect to deepen and broaden our democracy.Â The effect of this leadership vacuum on our nationâ€™s peace, progress and orderliness is self-evident, Your Highness.
As Crown Prince of your Kingdom, you took charge of the affairs of state when your elder brother, King Fahd of blessed memory, became ill. Also, when Crown Prince Sultan departed for the United States for treatment on November 23, 2008, the Saudi public was made aware of the progress in his treatment leading to his return to the Kingdom on December 10, 2009.
Leadership of nation-states is and must be continuous, and Nigerians need your intervention for our countryâ€™s young democracy to survive.
â€œYou may recall that our shared mutual history has shown that there is a tendency for adventurists to take advantage of the vacuum caused by prolonged visits of top Nigerian government functionaries to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stage a coup dâ€™etat as was the case when the government of Nigeria under the leadership of Major Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon was overthrown in 1985 as a direct consequence of Tunde Idiagbonâ€™s prolonged stay in your country.
This action severely embarrassed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and set a precedent. In view of this, it is our desire to forestall any such act by military adventurists by requesting for accurate information from the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which will enable the Nigerian people take advantage of the clauses in our constitution which provide for orderly continuity in government in the event that the president is incapacitated by illness.
â€œYour Royal Highness, we implore you to use your good offices to let our nation know the state of our President.â€