ON Friday, April 2, 2010, the Chief Imam of the Abuja Central Mosque, Alhaji Ustaz Mohammed and other Muslim leaders, including Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmad, disclosed thatÂ they were among a group of Muslim clerics who visited ailing President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™ Adua at the presidential palace and found him well enough to have received and prayed with them.
Ordinarily, this should be cheering news as it gives the impression that Yarâ€™ Adua might soon be coming back to work. Rather than that, this disclosure ruffled a lot of feathers for several reasons. In the first place, the Muslim clerics further disclosed that they went to see Yarâ€™ Adua on the wifeâ€™s approval of their request to do so. Following the uproar raised in Christian circles by this one-sided â€œprivilegeâ€ to see the ailing president, Turai also permitted four Christian leaders to visit. Suddenly Turai, who had blocked all efforts to see the president, became the facilitator. It smacks of religious politics being introduced in confusion of the presidentâ€™s health issue.
Even though Nigeria has no state religion, it accorded some official recognition to Christianity and Islam. Therefore, if an ailing president who has been away from public glare for quite a while,Â indeed decides to show himself to religious leaders, prudence and commonsense demand the two groups should be packaged by the facilitators, rather than one group being brought in as an apparent afterthought when some damage had been done.
The second reason we find this visit untidy is the fact that Yarâ€™ Adua has been absent from his duty post for over four months. During his stay both in Saudi Arabia and since he was surreptitiously returned to Aso Villa in February 2010, he has been shielded from public view. Not even his own Vice President was informed of his return, let alone being allowed to see him and ascertain his situation in order to know exactly how to proceed. Religious leaders succeeding in seeing Yarâ€™ Adua while he keeps away from his Deputy who was given the mantle of authority as Acting President due to Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s ill_health, smacks not onlyof contempt but also gives a worrisome signal that if he returns to work there might be some major upheaval. The nation will continue to drift on the crest of political uncertainties, which many patriots had hoped would come to an end as soon as Acting President Goodluck Jonathan swore in his newly constituted cabinet.
Aside from all this, there seems to be a growing tendency by some political interests to use Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s indisposition to feather their own political nests at the expense of national interest. Each time the Acting President makes a major effort to move Nigeria forward, stories are made to go round about the imminence of Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s return. At the end of the day, the President never shows up. The unfortunate enlistment of religious leaders into this scheme is sad and dangerous in a nation that is still trying to wade its way out of the consequences of the Jos killings.
We hope that those who are toying with the affairs of this nation because of narrow self interests, will pause and ponder before we are put into a crisis that cannot be managed.