By Emmanuel Aziken,Emeka Mamah, Daniel Idonor & Wole Mosadomi
ABUJAâ€”The President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, yesterday denied involvement in any plan to replace President Umaru Yarâ€˜Adua, who is at present receiving medical attention in Saudi Arabia just as the leakage of the alleged letter purportedly written by the President to the National Assembly seeking medical vacation which was not delivered by his aide is causing disquiet in Aso Rock.
Relatedly, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), has cautioned Nigerians against making inflammatory comments on the health ofÂ the President while the Good Governance Group (3G), an organisation on national development, tasked the Federal Executive Council to, as a matter of national importance, organize a video conference to enable the President address Nigerians and rest all the speculations that have dominated public discussions in the country.
Meanwhile, the Presidentâ€™s family has denied media reports suggesting that the Presidentâ€™s mother, Hajia Dada Habib Yarâ€™Adua, askedÂ the President to resign from office on account of his ill-health.
Mark, who denounced those he described as fifth columnists of a plan to cash in on the Presidentâ€™s ill-health, affirmed that there was no urgency in the Presidentâ€™s condition to demand his resignation from office.
Ahead of the end of the special nine days prayers he called for the President which ends today, Mark, who was a guest speaker at the Law Week celebrations of the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), reiterated the Senateâ€™s resolve to push through its proposals to amend the constitution ahead of the 2011 elections.
Denying involvement in any plot to succeed President Yarâ€˜Adua, Mark was quoted in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Paul Mumeh, thus: â€œI feel very strongly about what is happening, sycophants and praise-singing have cashed on the situation, we must condemn these acts. It is inhuman and unjust.
â€œThey (mischief-makers) deliberately sell dummies to newspapers. The following morning, they collect the newspapers and fly to Saudi Arabia to tell lies.
â€œIt is totally mischievous and in bad faith. I do not have such ambition. If others nurses so, certainly not David Mark,â€™â€™ he added.
Continuing, he said: â€œThis is the handiwork of fifth columnists, who are bent on causing disaffection among individuals in government as well as the functionaries of government. It is wicked, mischievous, and unpatriotic and smirks of a grand plan to cause division in the system by those who have found a platform on the status of the health of President Yarâ€™Adua.
â€œI am not aware of lawmakers holding nocturnal meetings anywhere to fashion out any solution in the face of eventuality. Neither is there any group canvassing a position for the President of the Senate.
â€œAs a nation, we are passing through difficult times, no doubt about it. But, it does not give room for mischief-makers to cause more problems.Â In which ever faith one professes, all we need at the moment is continuous prayer for the nation and for our President.â€
Urging Nigerians to be patriotic, he said: â€œI sincerely advice those behind these ugly trends to desist. They should not mislead the nation. We need to see reasons and pray for Mr. President, we are all human beings. I do not see the urgency for Mr. President to resign. I am sure he will return soon to continue his good work.â€
There is disquiet in Aso Rock following insinuations that the President purportedly sent a letter to the National Assembly seeking medical vacation, which his aide allegedly refused to deliver.
A national daily (not Vanguard) had reported that before President Yarâ€™Adua left the country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, he, indeed, wrote, signed and sent a vacation letter to the National Assembly through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji, but he did not deliver the letter for political reasons.
It was learnt that â€œif the story is trueâ€ Aso Rock views such development whereby sensitive matters that have security implications would be leaked to the press indiscriminately as a serious crack on the wall and an indication that some elements within its fold are now serving unknown purpose which must be nipped in the bud,â€ our source said.
As a result, intelligence network that could possibly track the daily operations of the emerging disgruntled individual or group on the corridors of power is being heightened, so as not to allow it reach an alarming proportion, it was gathered.
It was for this reason, Vanguard learnt, that necessitated yesterdayâ€™s invitation of the troubled Presidential Adviser to the National Assembly by the Vice-President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to explain all he knew about the matter.
Abba-Aji, however, denied that Yarâ€™Adua wrote or sent any letter through him to the National Assembly seeking medical vacation which he refused to deliver as claimed by a report in that newspaper.
According to the report, the letter was purported addressed to the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr..Dimeji Bankole, informing them of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s intention to go on â€œmedical vacationâ€ to attend to his health.
The move, the report noted, was to pave the way for Jonathan to properly take over as Acting President in line with Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution which says: â€œWhenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.â€
Reacting to the report, the visibly-worried Abba-Aji, who was invited to the Presidential Villa to explain his role in the controversy to Jonathan, refused to disclose to State House Correspondents what he discussed with the Vice President, saying: â€œI will not be sharing with you what I discussed with the Vice-President; that is not a fair question.â€
He said there was never a time the President prepared any such letter seeking the approval or notifying the National Assembly about his medical vacation; even as he argued that the President was not supposed to write such letter in the first place.
â€œThe paper had said there is a letter written that I refused to submit, that is not true. There is no such letter, at all. So, the story is baseless and it is false. The true position is, it didnâ€™t happen; that is not true. It is not true. There is no such letter. Is the President not supposed to write?â€ he asked.
He said he saw the report â€œon the front page of the (paper). I was very surprised, I was very angry, that is not true. So, I called the Editor of the (paper), and he has promised to retract the story. The story has no basis, it is a complete lie. But I am still surprised that it found its way into the front page of such a respected paper. â€
The NUJ cautioned Nigerians against making inflammatory comments on the health of President Yarâ€™Adua. The unionâ€™s charge came in a statement issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, in AkureÂ and signed by itsÂ National Secretary, Mr. Leman Shuaibu.
In the statement, the union urged all Nigerians to pray for the quick recovery of the President.
â€œWhat the President requires of the entire nation at this trying period is prayers and not inflammatory statements which will only heat up the polity,â€ it stated.
Nnamani on President’s health
Meanwhile, the Good Governance Group (3G), has said the absence of any form of direct contact between Nigerians and President Yarâ€™Adua is a major source of legitimacy for all the speculations and the contemplated unconstitutional permutations.
According to a statement signed by Senator Ken Nnamani â€œinterestingly, the response of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as stated by Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, Secretary of the Government of the Federation is to the effect that â€œissues that would require Mr. Presidentâ€™s express approval, contacts are being made and such approvals do comeâ€ is further disturbing. This confirms the absence of legitimate Presidential authority in Nigeria.
â€œWhile wishing Mr. President speedy recovery and pray for him to return home quickly to resume work as President of the Federal Republic, we call on the Federal Executive Council to, as a matter of national importance organize a video conference to enable Mr. President address Nigerians and rest all the speculations that have dominated public discussions in the country of recent.
In a related development, the statement credited to Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State that President Yarâ€™Adua was in high spirits on his sick bed in Saudi Arabia and that he would soon return to the country is causing disquiet in the state.
Sources told Vanguard that his political opponents have capitalised on the statement to raise questions about his motive in granting interviews on the Presidentâ€™s health when he is neither a Federal Government official nor Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™sÂ spokesman.
Although Shema reportedly returned to Katsina Sunday night from Saudi Arabia where the President is hospitalized, some of his critics are wondering if actually he was allowed to see Yarâ€™Adua in view of the hurdles he allegedly went through before being allowed to see him in the company of other governors led by Dr. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State last week.
The Niger State Governor, Dr. Muâ€™azu Babangida Aliyu, has also kicked against the call by some Nigerians on President Yarâ€™Adua to resign from office because of ill-health.
Speaking while receiving Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Parry Osayande, at the Government House in Minna yesterday, the governor said it was unhealthy to call on the President to resign from his sick bed.
He said rather than call for his resignation, Nigerians should organize special prayers for his quick recovery.
According to him, â€œrather than call for his resignation, the Presidentâ€™s sickness should be a uniting factor to pray fervently for the quick recovery of the Presidentâ€.
Aliyu noted that it is only God that gives and takes lives and that, sickness sometimes does not necessarily lead to death, pointing out that the President should, therefore, be given a chance to continue with the good work he has started.
Yar’Adua’s mother hasn’t spoken toÂ anyone
The Presidentâ€™s family in a letter signed by Hajia Mairo Musa Yarâ€™Adua said: â€œto put the records straight, the Presidentâ€™s mother has never spoken to the media.Â She enjoys a cordial relationship with her daughter-in-law, Turai.
The Presidentâ€™s mother, contrary to media reports, is supportive of Mr Presidentâ€™s foray into politics and has always encouraged him to render selfless service to the good people of Nigeria .
â€˜â€™All the Presidentâ€™s mother has been doing since her son travelled abroad for medical treatment is offering fervent prayers for his speedy recovery. She believes it is normal for human beings to fall sick, and recover. She has therefore never contemplated asking the President to resign.
It is therefore highly irresponsible for anybody to drag the Presidentâ€™s mother into the politics of the Presidentâ€™s health. What she expects from Nigerians is to pray for the quick recovery of her son.
â€˜â€™The mass media should strive to be more responsible in their reports and desist from being used as tools of blackmail by disgruntled politicians. The media should cross check their facts before going to press. At this critical stage of the nationâ€™s development, the media should concentrate on issues that unite us and not heat up the polity.
â€˜â€™It is distressing that some media houses even involved the late brother of Mr. President, General Shehu Musa Yarâ€™Adua, in this unhealthy rumour and gossips. Hajia Dada Yarâ€™Adua is asking these journalists and political opponents of Mr President to leave her alone, and allow her late son to rest in peace! “
Hajia Dada Yarâ€™ Adua also called on media houses responsible for these falsehoods to retract the misleading reports and apologize to the family or face legal action.â€