By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, Emmanuel Aziken & Henry Umoru
LAGOSâ€”THERE were strong indications, yesterday, that the plan to fly ailing President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to Nigeria may have been delayed by unavailability of required air ambulance for the Presidentâ€™s condition.
Yarâ€™Adua, whose absence from the country in the last two months, has created tension in the polity, is said to be on life support machine at a Saudi Arabia hospital.
It was gathered that the President would have been flown into the country last week in an air ambulance to frustrate calls on him to handover to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in acting capacity.
Vanguard learnt that the Saudi monarch, King Abdallah Fahd, is the only one that has the type of air ambulance suitable to fly Yarâ€™Adua into Nigeria with a life support machine.
Some government officials were said to be making necessary arrangements to persuade the Saudi King to release his air ambulance.
It was learnt that if the request is granted, Yarâ€™Adua may be flown in anytime from now as life support machine had already been installed in Aso Rock and Katsina, his home state.
SGF trip to SaudiÂ aborted
The Secretary to Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed who was scheduled to visit Yarâ€™Adua in Saudi Arabia recently using the presidential jet was ordered, at the last minute that he should not bother.
Even his alternative decision to embark on the trip, using a commercial airline, purportedly to perform the lesser hajj did not yield the desired result. After spending five days in Saudi without being granted access to the President, he had to return home.
Authoritative sources also told Vanguard, last night, that security agencies became worried because of the prevailing situation and decided to act fast to avoid having a messy scenario. Equally, security agencies prunned the number of people with access to the ailing President by cutting off his aide de camp, ADC.Â For now, only the Chief Security Officer and his wife are permitted to get to his bedside principally because of his poor state.
Senate cannot compel Yarâ€™Adua to handover to Jonathan
Meantime, the Senate has said it cannot compel President Yarâ€˜Adua to hand over to his deputy despite his ill-health and will not travel the way of impeaching him.
Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze, while reacting to what he claimed were speculations (not Vanguard) that the Senate was considering the impeachment of the President, said in a statement, yesterday, the Senate would not travel that road on account of the serious implications for the countryâ€™s corporate existence.
Reaffirming what he described as the Senateâ€™s love for President Yarâ€™Adua, Senator Eze said the Senate would not criminalize ill-health even as he added that there was nothing anyone could do to compel the ailing President to handover power.
The Senate had last Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution urging President Yarâ€™Adua to transmit a letter to the National Assembly on his medical vacation which would enable his deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan act as President.
He said: â€œWhat the Senate did was to advise the president to transmit a letter informing the National Assembly that he is on medical vacation, as a way of bringing down tension in the polity and finding a way around a knotty constitutional lacuna.
â€œAs it is, given the way section 145 of the 1999 constitution is, there is nothing anybody can do to compel the president to issue the letter. However, as elder statesmen and representatives of the Nigerian people, we felt we had a duty to speak up in support of the right thing being done, even if the constitution had glossed over its necessity. I wish, therefore, to state categorically that at no time did the issue of impeachment arise in the senate either when the matter was taken in plenary or in closed sessions.â€
â€œWe are responsible and patriotic enough to know that we cannot contemplate criminalizing ill health. Anybody can fall sick at anytime. The issue of health lies with God. It is, therefore, mischievous to allege that the Senate leadership was in favour of impeaching the president and his vice.
This was never discussed and was never contemplated.â€
Alleging a scheme by spin doctors to compound the countryâ€™s constitutional crisis, he said: â€œI see it as the handiwork of spin doctors who are using everything at their disposal, including the ones that are so asinine, to frustrate every effort to find a political solution to a very obviously testy situation.
We all love our president. We all love our country too, and will do whatever it will take to preserve her corporate existence. â€œOur resolution urging the president to do us a vacation notice is enough to produce the desired result, especially when our call has been backed by former presidents and the cream of Nigeriaâ€™s elder statesmen as well as the international community.â€
PDP NWC members divided
Also, indications are rife that members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, are set for â€˜warâ€™ against one another following the decision of the party to throw its weight behind last weekâ€™s decision of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, that President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s absence in the last 70 days on medical attention in Saudi Arabia does not connote that he was incapacitated.
The decision is reportedly brewing crisis within the leadership of the party at the Wadata Plaza national headquarters of the party. Vanguard gathered that some members were furious after last weekâ€™s NWC meeting and the report by journalists, stressing that the declaration was not a resolution reached by the party.
It was also gathered that at the end of Fridayâ€™s crucial meeting by the leadership of the PDP, the National Assembly, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mike Aondoakaa as well as some kitchen cabinet members of President Yarâ€™Adua, the party was considering sending some members to Saudi Arabia as part of the decisions at the meeting.
The crucial meeting which took place at 45, Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro, Abuja, the private residence of the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, it was learnt, also had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Abba Ruma and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Tanimu Yakubu.
When asked on the outcome of the Friday meeting, the source said: â€œWe are still consulting and part of the consultation may take us to see the President in Saudi Arabia. At least, that is the outcome, though much meetings and consultations are still on going.â€
On the decision of the party to support FEC, it would be recalled that the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, while briefing journalists on Thursday last week on the outcome of the meeting, said the leadership of the party was in support of the decision of the Federal Executive Council that President Yarâ€™Adua was still fit to administer the country in spite of his present condition.
According to a source, the decision at best could be seen as resolution of the National Chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, the Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed and the National Publicity Secretary, Professor Alkali.
Speaking further, the NWC member said, â€œWhen it came to our notice that the Federal Executive Council has taken a resolution in line with the Federal High Court order, the matter was not discussed because the NWC had already concluded its meeting.
â€œThough, we are supposed to speak as a body, but we never discussed the outcome of the resolution of the Federal Executive Council. Some of us are of the belief that there was still room for consultation on this matter, as whatever action or position taken is capable of tearing the party apart, but the truth of the matter is that we are yet to take a positionâ€.
It was also gathered that opinions of PDP members were divided on the issue of asking President Yarâ€™Adua to transmit a letter to the National Assembly to enable Vice President Goodluck Jonathan act in accordance with section 145 of the 1999 constitution.