• Saudi doctors disagree over Yar’Adua fitness • Northern bigwigs divided over impeachment, forced resignation of VP
By SULEIMAN ABUBAKAR
WHAT is in a name?
Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan’s name has been like a miraculous totem in the history of his private and public life. From a lowlife government agency official he was drafted to the Bayelsa State Government House in 1999 as Deputy to Governor Alamieyeseigha Diepriye.
When Umaru Musa Yar’Adua emerged as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate in 2007; nobody factored the possibility of Jonathan been chosen as running mate to the erstwhile Katsina State Governor. But Yar’Adua pronounced Jonathan as his Deputy soon after his nomination at Eagles Square, Abuja. The two won the election and has worked happily ever after.
However, some disgruntled elements from the North and Southern part of the country who are desperate to work against heavenly Forces are surreptitiously planning to stop Jonathan from being the constitutional successor to ailing President Yar’Adua through contrived political crisis which could lead to the heir apparent being impeached or forced to resign from office. This damnable situation will ultimately clear the way for the stooge of this inordinately ambitious political mafia dubbed as the ‘Katsina Mafia’.
Providence (mother luck?) seems to be moving positively towards Jonathan’s domain. His boss, President Umaru Yar’Adua seen from foreboding signals unable to conclude his first tenure in office as Nigeria’s second elected President.
National Daily learned that contrary to claim by government officials, doctors at the King Faisal Research Centre and Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia where Yar’Adua has been receiving medical treatment have conclusively stated that the President will be unable to continue in office even if he regains enough consciousness to return to the country. The doctors, according to sources, have also ruled out the possibility of the President returning to the country this year.
The President’s condition was said to have deteriorated seriously last week making him unable to communicate with people around him and also being sensitive to his environment.
Informed sources disclosed that Saudi Arabian doctors have formerly informed the First Lady, Hajia Turai Umaru Yar’Adua about the clinical condition of her husband. Turai was also given the mandate to brief President Yar’Adua’s family and relevant Nigerian authority.
“Turai knows the truth about her husband’s health condition. She is just being careful to secure the family political and economic interest. She has been official told by Doctors in Saudi Arabia that her husband has been affected by his ailment and therefore will be unable to return to the job even if he is discharged from the hospital.” One of the sources said.
However, it was learned that Turai has revealed the truth to Yar’Adua’s family, important government officials and some influential Northern leaders.
“Though the President’s daughters heard the Doctor’s advice in Saudi Arabia, it has also been conveyed to other relatives including wife and children of his late elder brother, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. The National Assembly leadership, Secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF) Mahmud Yayale Ahmed and Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa” our knowledgeable source said, adding:
“Members of the Yar’Adua family and some close associates have been working out ways of letting the President’s mother, Hajia Dada Habib know more about her son’s condition without necessary divulging things that might frighten her. You know the old woman is still insisting that her son should resign from office despite the attempt by government officials to cover up her true wishes.
National Daily learned that there has been several meetings between the National Assembly leadership, some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and prominent politicians from the North and South, to discuss the latest development on President Yar’Adua’s health and to map out strategies on how to ensure smooth transition to the constitutional successor.
Our reliable sources said the inevitability of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s resignation has equally been conveyed to the National Security Adviser (NSA) General Sarki Muktar, Directors of State Security Service (SSS) Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), and other relevant security Agencies.
Sources said the last meeting to device the way out of the looming constitutional crisis was attended by two former Heads of State and three influential emirs.
Medical sources close to King Faisal Hospital Jeddah said that contrary to claims by Nigerian government officials that they have been holding discussions with ailing president, the only person who has had access to the president over the past weeks has been his wife, Turai.
Sources allege that Yar’Adua has been incapable of communicating with people nowadays, mostly due to the debilitating effects of his illness. According to the sources, the early days of Yar’Adua’s admission were the only period in which he was able to communicate with people. Since then sources say, his condition has been critical. It is also unclear if Yar’Adua will be able to return to Nigeria before the end of the year, but the sources said this is highly unlikely.
A senior official of the Saudi Arabia government disputed hints from top officials in Nigeria that they had access to the president. “It is only Turai (his wife) that has direct access to him,” the man said. “It is virtually impossible for them have to have a discussion with Mr. Yar’Adua.” He also said it might be difficult for the president to personally accede to calls for him to either resign or hand over power to his assistant.
President Umaru Yar’Adua has switched hospitals in the past; moving from the European country of Germany to Saudi-Arabia. The President, who has long been known to suffer from a kidney ailment, was in Germany for six days – from March 6 to March 11 2007 – just before the presidential elections, to receive treatment. The following year, he visited that country’s hospitals for the second time, spending 12 days, from April 14 to 25, 2008.
By August 27, he was in the western seaport city of Jeddah, in Saudi-Arabia, where he was admitted for treatment for 11 days, until September 6, 2009.
From August 14 this year, Mr. Yar’Adua spent 12 days in hospital, returning to Nigeria on August 25.
On September 22, the president left for another trip to Saudi Arabia. The presidency claimed his purpose was to serve as a guest at the commissioning of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, but added that Yar’Adua would call on his personal physicians for “follow-up medical checks.”
In total, the president has made three medical trips in five months this year, with the present one being the longest.
Yar’Adua’s long absence has resulted in mounting national anxiety, which has culminated in pressure by civil groups for him to resign.
National Daily sources revealed that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was initially kept in the dark about the resolve to abide by the constitutional provision of getting a successor to the President in case of his resignation from office or being incapacitated by infirmity.
However, he was eventually informed by the National Security Adviser and a prominent politician from the Niger Delta that his boss may not be able to complete his first term in office.
National Daily learned that soon as some political extremists who form the nucleons of Northern political mafia were told that President Yar’Adua may have been incapacitated by his ailment, they made serious move to force Jonathan to resign from office so as to enable them install a malleable President from the north to conclude the north’s 8-year term according to the mutually agreed zoning system between the North and South within the PDP.
“Some influential Northern leaders were afraid that if Jonathan is allowed to become Acting President, he may contest election in 2011 to serve his own 4-year term in office thereby denying the north of their right to occupy the Presidency for 8 years,” an informed source said added.
“The north is not comfortable with Jonathan’s closeness to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the man who imposed a sick Yar’Adua.
The plan was to remove Yar’Adua so that the Senate President, David Mark from the North can become President with former Delta State governor, James Ibori as his deputy.
The second option is to use all constitutional subterfuge to make former National Security Adviser, Mohammed Aliyu Gusau or the SGF, Yayale Ahmed, the new President.
Informed sources said that when it became clear that most Nigerians from Northern and southern part of the country were critical of any arrangement outside the constitution the hardliners pretended that they have finally accepted to support the reality of Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency.
This seeming compromise according to sources was made in order to forestall upheaval in the Niger Delta and ill-feeling in the entire south.
Sources said Jonathan and some representatives from the north have held important meeting to agree on the programmes of his Presidency and to extract assurances from him that he will not contest the 2011 Presidential election.
National Daily learned that some Northern emirs recently visited Aso Rock Abuja, to pledge their loyalty to Jonathan and express their support for him to become Acting President of the country.
Jonathan is said to have been involved in vital discussion with the nation’s military chiefs who also pledged their loyalty to him.
However, sources told National Daily that some of the disgruntled members of the mafia are still plotting against Jonathan. This time they tried to create a trap which would have caught the VP in a dangerous position and cause him to be impeached by the National Assembly or make him bow to contrived pressure and resign from office.
It was this desperate power mafia according to source that mandated the Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa to ask the President to assume the powers of the President when the Minister has no constitutional authority to make such request. If Jonathan had succumbed to Aondoakaa antics he would have been entrapped in a controversy that would have given his opponents the reason to boot him out of Aso Rock.
However, Aondoakaa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), denied reports credited to him that he wrote to the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, asking him to take over from the President, Umaru Yar’Adua, due to his ill health. But the denial is not likely to douse what is degenerating to a constitutional crisis at the highest level of governance in the country.
Because Yar’Adua failed to designate officially handover to Jonathan before he travelled, several matters of national importance have been left unattended so, Mr. Jonathan is unable to act for his boss.
There are worries about the status of the new Chief Justice of Nigeria and the fate of the supplementary budget passed recently by the National Assembly. Aondoakaa, in a statement in Abuja signed by his senior special assistant, media, Onov Tyuulugh, said the insinuation contained in the report was wrong in its entirety. “I, as the number one law officer of the Federation, do not have such powers to direct the vice president to take over,” he said. “The relevant section of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests the powers to appoint or replace the President of the Federation on the National Assembly.” He also said the Chief Justice of the Federation, the President of the Court of Appeal or any judicial officer can function in that capacity, after taking their oath of office as stipulated in section 290 of the constitution.
The Attorney General said it became necessary to make the clarification, after misconceptions on the position of the President and the Vice-President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Meanwhile, some notable lawyers have criticised Aondoakaa over the reports that he asked Jonathan to sign the N353.6 billion 2009 supplementary budget passed by the National Assembly. The reports said Mr. Aondoakaa had argued that the vice president or any minister could act on behalf of the president. He was said to have quoted section 5 of the constitution, which stipulates that the president’s powers could be delegated.
Minister for Information and Communications, Dora Akuyili, according to reports, claimed to be unaware of such a directive from the Attorney General. “I have not been briefed on the matter. When I get briefed, I will let you know,” he said. Also, Ima Niboro, the vice president’s special adviser on media said, ‘‘I am not aware and I can assure you that the VP received no such letter.”
However, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association described the position of Aondoakaa as “trying to turn the law on its head”. Rotimi Akeredolu, said he has not seen the letter written by the Attorney General, however, said if the report is true, it will be presumptuous of the minister. “Who is he? It must be presumptuous that he thought he has such powers. He has no such powers. His action is unfortunate and is not in accord with the provision of the law which we expect that he should know better. “The position of the law is simple. The vice president is incapacitated and he cannot act.
If the president is on vacation or he is otherwise incapacitated, they should have transmitted the declaration to the Senate to state clearly, under section 145, that he has that problem so that they can now swear in the vice president. He is the one vested with such powers, having been sworn-in to take whatever step as the president would have done, for example, the swearing in of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
The plot to subvert Vice President Goodluck Jonathan’s constitutional entitlement seemed to have taken a new dimension last week.
Members of Umaru Yar’adua’s kitchen cabinet are determined to stop at nothing in frustrating “Vice President” Goodluck Jonathan’s takeover of power in a constitutional manner, reports revealed. The new plot was allegedly hatched in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and is anchored by Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, his Chief Security Officer (CSO), Yusuf Tilde, and his Chief of Protocol, Abba Gana.
Report said, the group is working tirelessly with other members in Nigeria, notably Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa, Kwara governor Bukola Saraki and former Delta Governor James Ibori, to place hurdles in the way of Jonathan’s constitutional succession.
A group familiar with the group’s plot said that the kitchen cabinet is seriously considering instigating a coup, using Yar’Adua’s younger brother, Assistant Director of Logistics of the Nigerian Army, to mobilize a cadre of middle level officers. “The whole idea according to report is to organize these officers to say that they’re opposed to Jonathan’s ascension to power based on reasons of incompetence, illegality and corruption,” said our source.
The alleged plots were linked to Aondoakaa’s controversial letter that invoked Section 5 of the constitution to ask Jonathan to act as “president.”
Before forwarding the letter to Jonathan, Aondoakaa had first sent it to Jeddah for Yar’Adua’s approval. Our sources said the letter never made it to Yar’Adua, who is reportedly still too sick to attend even to basic tasks. Instead, his wife, Turai, and Yar’Adua’s CSO, Yusuf Tilde, faxed a copy of the letter from the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia to an aide to Yar’adua in Abuja who reportedly made a photocopy of the letter and forwarded it to Jonathan asking him to act as “president.”
Our sources said the controversial letter, in invoking section 5 of the constitution instead of section 145 and /or 146, was meant as a trap for Jonathan. “If the letter had been based on section 145 and /or 146, the Vice President would be empowered to fully exercise the duties of the presidency and to enjoy the rights and privileges set out in the constitution,” said a source. He added: “The members of the kitchen cabinet know that Yar’Adua is in no shape to return to Nigeria in 2009, so they tried to entrap Jonathan in an illegality – hence the kind of letter sent to him.”
Report said that Turai and Aondoakaa are fully aware of Yar’Adua’s continuing health crisis, and yet they constantly sponsor propaganda in a section of the media to the effect that the sickly ruler may be home-bound soon.
One of our sources disclosed that the question of a constitutional transfer of power to Jonathan has become more valid and urgent in light of several issues of governance that require presidential approval.
“Nigeria is in a constitutional crisis, and it is deepening by the day,” said a source, a minister in the Yar’Adua cabinet. He stated that, without a miraculous recovery to enable Yar’Adua to return to the country, the country’s machinery is bound to grind to a halt soon.
On his part, Jonathan appears to have adopted a strategic aloofness. He has so far refused to append his signature to bills coming from the National Assembly and to the list of National Merit Award winners, insisting that he couldn’t do anything without a constitutional backing in place to guarantee the legality of his action.
A source revealed that Aondoakaa’s questionable letter was meant to railroad Jonathan to accept a constitutionally fake role of “acting President” so that, if a coup is successfully carried out, Jonathan could be easily brushed aside and accused of engaging in illegality and unconstitutional acts – a constant refrain of coup plotters. Also, the role sought for Jonathan would enable him sign bills that could quickly cater to financial interests of Turai and some other members of the “kitchen cabinet” who are engaged in contract awards running into billions of naira.
Our sources said Jonathan was livid with rage over Aondoakaa’s letter. He reportedly made it clear that he would not accept to discharge any presidential duties on the basis of a letter he considered absurd.
In order to placate the fuming Jonathan, Aondoakaa appeared in Jonathan’s office last week in the company of the Benue Governor Gabriel Suswan. We were unable to confirm the details of the meeting, but a source briefed by Aondoakaa said the AGF tried to explain why he took the action. In return, Jonathan reportedly expressed displeasure in strong terms about the way Aondoakaa and his group had been degrading him and his office.
Jolted by Jonathan’s strong reaction as well as by the fall-out from media leaks of the controversial letter, Aondoakaa and his advisors have decided to deny that he ever forwarded the letter to Jonathan.
Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet, which includes Aondoakaa and Ibori, had reportedly assured Turai Yar’Adua that they could arrange for her to “serve out” her husband’s tenure in the event of his death or incapacitation.
Our source said the current stand-off was part of the agenda by the Turai-Aondoakaa coalition to retain and exercise power by all means as long as they can get away with it.
“The inner circle around Turai has decided to withhold all information about Yar’Adua’s condition while using sections of the media to sell false reports of the man’s steady recovery,” said a source within the Presidency.
Other sources confirmed to Saharareporters that, contrary to several official claims, Yar’Adua has not spoken with any government official, including Vice President Jonathan and cabinet ministers since he was flown out to Saudi Arabia on November 23.
A trusted source who spoke with one of the tiny few to have seen Yar’Adua told Saharareporters that Mr. President “is largely unaware of his surroundings and has had serious bouts of dementia in addition to major organ troubles.” Saharareporters was first to reveal that Mr. Yar’adua was being flown on medical emergency to Saudi Arabia about a month ago.
In Yar’Adua’s absence, a few forces and groups have emerged and are engaged in the political brinkmanship that has held Nigeria hostage.
The arrowheads of the crisis that now threatens Nigeria’s democracy and possibly its fragile unity include Minister of Agriculture, Abba Ruma, Yar’Adua’s Chief Economic Adviser, Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, a member of the House of Representatives, Shehu Inuwa Imam, representing Faskari/Kankara Sabu Wa Federal Constituency. Inuwa Imam was recently in Jeddah where he participated in the strategy sessions of the inner circle.
Other players include Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, and Attorney General, Aondoakaa. Our source said Judge Awokulehin finally agreed to read his verdict acquitting Ibori of all counts of corruption after Aondoakaa assured the judge that their group has the upper hand in the power struggle “and that there would be no negative repercussions.”
Former Senator Abba Aji of Borno and National Security Adviser, Sarki Mukhtar, are also listed among those engaged in the plot to thwart Jonathan’s possible ascension to the presidency.
Sources said that four groups are arrayed against each other and jostling for the vice presidency slot. One group, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, is sponsoring two candidates, Jigawa’s governor, Sule Lamido, and Senator Jubril Aminu. Former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, is also proposing former National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau, while a third group led by Abubakar Umar and Muhammadu Buhari are said to be open to “any good candidate” from the North. The last group is the “Presidency group” which has championed Yayale Ahmed, as its candidate.
Will the desperate political mafia succeed in their plot to truncate the possibility of Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency or will celestial element once again intervene on the political life of their favourite son with the biblical surname? Time will tell.