By Lawani Mikairu with agency report
LAGOSâ€”CONTRARY to speculations that President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua is in coma and on a life support machine, the first cousin, Mr. Zubaru Ali, has disclosed that the President can walk, talk, eat and was even asking after family members.
In an interview with cable network, Al Jazeera,Â Zubaru Ali said he was given permission to meet with the ailing President because he is his first cousin and family spokesperson.
He said the Presidentâ€™s health was improving and that he was able to recognize individuals contrary to speculations. Zubaru Ali added that Yarâ€™Adua has been expressing thanks to family members for their prayers and support.
It will be recalled that President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, has been back in the country since penultimate Wednesday, after spending more than three months receiving medical treatment at a Saudi Arabian hospital.
He has, however, not been seen or heard in public since his return on February 24, fueling speculation that he was incapable of carrying out his job. Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s silence has led many newspapers to continue to report that he was on a life support machine or in a coma.
There are also speculations that the presidentâ€™s aides and first family are holding him hostage in the presidential villa until they can figure out how to retain influence and power in the event of his death.
According to Al Jazeeraâ€™s Yvonne Ndege, who had gone to Katsina State, Yarâ€™Adua home state, she was able to track down one of the few members of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s family to discuss the state of the presidentâ€™s health.
State of health
Yarâ€™Adua left the country on November 23 to receive treatment for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart that can restrict normal beating.
He is also known to suffer from a chronic kidney condition and has long been criticized for not being able to work more than five or six hours a day.
Aside from the near constitutional crisis, Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s long absence had prompted street protests by thousands across the country, demanding his resignation.
It also threatened to paralyse the government until the National Assembly installed Goodluck Jonathan, the vice president, as acting president on February 9.
Yarâ€™Adua had not officially transmitted a letter of medical vacation to the National Assembly, though the parliament said it based its decision on an interview that the ailing president gave the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, last month, saying that he would return to work once his doctors gave him the go-ahead.