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Yar'Adua undergoes tests at Jeddah Hospital


Against the backdrop of media reports on the health of President Umaru Musa Yar'dua who is in Saudi Arabia for medical check-up, the Senate yesterday said that it did not have evidence that Yar'Adua could not perform his constitutional responsibilities of president.

A Saudi doctor told Associated Press (AP) yesterday that the Nigerian president was undergoing medical tests at a hospital in the western seaport city of Jeddah.

The doctor told AP that President Yar'Adua was admitted yesterday, but he did not give further details on his health because he was not authorised to talk to the media.

But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, told Senate correspondents that the state of fitness of the president was a constitutional issue and only a health board of inquiry could determine Yar'Adua's fitness.

Asked if the Senate was sympathetic to the president over the health challenges that forced his trip to Saudi Arabia, Eze said: “We do not need to sympathise with anybody because even members of the Senate go for medical check-up every now and then.

“During the holiday I went for medical check-up and did all the test that I needed to do. So what is strange about going for medical check-up? Why should that engage our attention?

“Unfortunately the constitution did not provide for you to stay in your house and estimate the health of the president. The health (fitness) of the president is a constitutional issue and it is only a health board of inquiry that can determine the fitness or otherwise of the president, and the composition of that board is very clear.”
He added: “Besides, there is no indication before us whatsoever that the president is unable to discharge his responsibilities. So far, we do not have any evidence that the president cannot do his job. So why should we pry into that?”

Eze spoke on a day the Senate passed the N353.55 billion supplementary budget. The Upper House approved the report of the Joint Committee on Appropri-ation and Finance on the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2009.

The report, which was signed by Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido and Chairman of the Senate Com-mittee on Finance, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, was presented by Maccido.

The Upper House approved the recommendation that the Executive be authorized to issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government the sum of N353, 600,000,000 only of which N100,050,000,000 only is for additional Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure while the balance of N253,550,000,000 only is for Contribution to the Development Fund for additional Capital Expenditure.

Eze said that the passage of the Supplementary budget had extended the life span of the 2009 budget to March next year, a development he explained would enable the Senate to thoroughly consider and pass the 2010 budget.