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DEMAND FOR YAR'ADUA'S PUBLIC APPEARANCE NOT IMPORTANT

By DESMOND MGBOH, Kano



Yar'Adua

A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Farouk Lawal has disagreed with Nigerians demanding that ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua appear in public, saying that should not be the most critical concern of Nigerians at this stage.

Speaking on Sunday in Kano, shortly after the launch of a book titled: 'Nigerian Press in Search of Freedom,' by Dr. Abba Abdullahi, Farouk, who is the House Committee Chairman on Education argued that since the Presidency had issued a statement that Yar'Adua was back and recuperating, Nigerians should now worry about how to nurture the nation's democracy to ensuring peace and stability in the polity.

Even while conceding to the right of Nigerians to express concern over the state of health of their president, he reminded those championing that ' He (Yar' Adua) is a human being like any of us and we are bound to be sick anytime, and can even die when God decides that our time has come.'

He also observed that it was not the responsibility of the House to demand for the public appearance of the president, adding that going by the Constitution, it was the duty of the legislature to make laws and not to play the functions of the executive.

He also insisted that from the evidence available to him, there is no crisis within the Presidency or between the Presidency and the National Assembly, but agreed that some persons might have been taking advantage of the situation for their own interest, even as he noted that the matter of the health of the president had been mismanaged from inception by those managing it.

According to the representative of the Bagwai/Shanono Federal constituency, the Yar Adua situation had once again underscored the need for the establishment of strong democratic institutions in the country, which could withstand what happened to individuals that run the affairs of government.

Earlier on, Farouk had spoken on the Freedom of Information Bill (FoB) currently before the House. According to him, one of the major problems that worked against the bill in 2007 was the fact that 80 per cent of the members who had worked on it previously could not return back to the House, adding that that meant that the new members had to take a fresh look at the bill all over again.

Stating that the House considered the bill a very important aspect of the nation's democracy, he observed that with a Freedom of Information bill, not just media practitioners, even those in government would be better positioned to do their work effectively.

He added that it was wrong for the media to think that the legislature is afraid of the passage of the bill, adding that normally, with such bills, the legislature as an institution was immune to it.