Principal Secretary Denied Access To Ailing President Yar’Adua In Jeddah

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Presidency Not Speaking On Authenticity of Signature On the Budget. Yar'Adua Still At King Faisal Contrary To Reports

San Francisco (THEWILL) – Did the Principal Secretary to President Umaru Yar'Adua meet with him in Jeddah? Did the President actually sign the 2009 Supplementary Budget into law himself? Is the ailing President recuperating?

THEWILL investigations show that President Yar'Adua's Principal Secretary, Mr. David Edevbie was not allowed to meet with his boss, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in Jeddah when he took the 2009 Supplementary Budget along with some documents that required the ailing President's attention.

Edevbie, we gather, knew he might not be granted access to the leader before he left Abuja on a Nigerian Airforce Plane on December 26, 2009.

A source in the Presidency said though information on Mr. Edevbie's activities in Jeddah were still sketchy, the Principal Secretary was received by officials of the Nigerian Consul from Mushrefan District 6 area of Jeddah. Mr. Edevbie was chauffeured off into the city in a consulate marked vehicle. The source said he was not certain where Edevbie was taken but that he was nowhere near the King Faisal hospital where President Yar'Adua is.

The source said David did not get a chance to see his boss, but someone got the documents signed somehow which explains why he has continued to keep mum on the authenticity of the seal and signature on the over 100-page supplementary budget which the President was said to have signed.

“David was not allowed to see the President, he didn't even go near the hospital. Turai took all the files and told him she would pass them on to Yar'Adua. I think David got some of the documents back the next day, and that was it. Call David, if he will talk, he will tell you what am telling you. He knows the truth.”

The principal Secretary was spotted on arrival on December 29th at the Nnamdi Azukiwe International Airport in Abuja. We have tried to reach Mr. Edevbie but several calls to his phone were not accepted.

Last week as the controversy surrounding the signing of the 2009 Supplementary Budget and the President's location lingered, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), an organization formed by former head of state, Gen. Mahammdu Buhari, and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, challenged the Presidency to show proof that the ailing president actually signed the budget into law himself.

A statement by the Head of Secretariat of the NDM, Dr. Sule Hamma said: “We call on the Vice-President, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to come out clean with Nigerians and clear the mystery surrounding the nature of the President's medical condition and whereabouts.

“We specifically urge them to urgently take all steps to put a stop to unnecessary speculation on this matter and save the nation from further embarrassment and possible political conflagration by doing the following: (a) constitute a team of 15 credible persons comprising of the following to visit President Umaru Yar'Adua, verify his whereabouts and obtain a medical report from his doctors.”

“The membership of the 15-man committee shall consist of a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, two members of FEC, the President's personal doctor and two other highly respected doctors and independent medical practitioners.

Other members of the committee, it said, shall include majority and minority members of parties in the National Assembly, a representative each from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and National Council of Women Societies (NCWS).

Contrary to an erroneous report in a Nigerian Newspaper last week that the President was never admitted at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah, THEWILL can authoritatively state that the Nigerian President is still at the medical facility in the Arab city. Our findings showed that as part of a new concerted effort by a few politicians within the Presidency to discredit reports in the media on the President's health, the hospital's information desk was told to tell anyone who makes enquiries about the leader that he was never admitted at the facility.

“Your President is still there at the hospital, they can not take him anywhere, where do they want to take him in that condition?” A diplomatic source in Washington DC told THEWILL.

Meanwhile, a group made up of 100 lawyers under the auspices of 'Lawyers of Conscience' have also given the President till January 31, 2010 to resign or be removed by the National Assembly, failing which the group will be left with no alternative than to mobilize other legal practitioners and Nigerians to “take their destiny into their hands by any legitimate means possible.”

In the communiqué signed after its December 30, 2009 annual meeting by the body's National Coordinator, Benedict Ezeagwu; National Secretary General, Princewill U. Akpakpan; South-south Coordinator, Matthew Edeghese; South-west Coordinator, Samuel Adefila; North-east Coordinator, Musa Abubakar; and North-west Coordinator, Abdullahi Mohammed, among other members, the group stated:

“That it is on record that President Yar'Adua and his PDP bakers were fully aware of his serious health condition before he was picked as the Presidential flag-bearer of the PDP and subsequently foisted on the nation through a totally flawed and the worst General Election in the history of Nigeria.

“That in view of the above fact, it is a great act of wickedness for the innocent Nigerian masses to be made to suffer the negative consequences of this premeditated leadership failure as a result of the greed of a political cabal in the country.

“That the already impoverished Nigerian populace should not be made to bear any further, the brunt of the President Yar'Adua 'self-inflicted' burden of rulership, which has worsened his health condition.

“That in as much as we pray for President Yar'Adua's quick recovery from his current ailment, we boldly state here that it is not at the discretion of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) or the 
Attorney-General of the Federation to decide on what interpretation should be given to any of the sections of the Constitution/our Laws or when to apply Sections 144, 145, and 146 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (CFRN) 1999, but a duty they owe the country and which they MUST carry out .

“That we condemn in its entirety the jaundiced interpretation of the essence and applicability of Sections 144, 145, and 146 of CFRN, 1999 by the FEC, AG of the Federation or the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremmadu and his co-travelers at the so-called National Assembly, as this sections are not inserted in the CFRN, 1999 for fancy/decoration but to be applied/put into effect in a situation like the one Nigeria currently finds herself.

“That the absence of President Yar'Adua from the country for more than a month now, without any honest information on his current condition, on account of his ill-health; the current biting fuel scarcity; the confusion being brewed by the swearing in of Justice Katsina-Alu as the new CJN by the outgoing CJN, Justice Kutigi; non-signing of the 2010 Appropriation Act by the President; lack of seriousness on the part of National Assembly particularly with respect to the issues of Constitutional

Amendment/Electoral Reform; the lachrymal hardship/growing poverty in the country; the near collapse of governance and increasing constitutional crises in Nigeria among others, are clear manifestation of the incapacity of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to perform the functions of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That consequent upon the above reality and in the spirit of Rule of Law (one of the so-called 7-point Agenda of Yar'Adua's government), we hereby join the group of Eminent Nigerians and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to call on the FEC and National Assembly to immediately begin to take steps to give effect to sections 144, 145 and 146 of the CFRN, 1999 now that the ill-health and incapacity of President Yar'Adua has almost paralyzed governance in/and the Nation.

“That if by the expiration of our ultimatum of 31st January, 2010, President Yar'Adua has not come back to actively assume and perform his functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he neither resigns nor is removed by the National Assembly in the application of sections 144 and 146 of the CFRN, 1999 to enable the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan be sworn-in.”

Mr. John Campbell, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria and member of the US based Council on Foreign Relations added his voice to the current debate on the President's ailment and the controversies his absence has generated warning that the present furor could lead to a military intervention. He stated in an article that;

“President Umaru Yar'Adua appears likely to leave office soon. Nigeria's king makers--the country's competing and cooperating power brokers seem poised to reassign presidential duties and responsibilities elsewhere because the ailing president can no longer exercise them. According to the Nigerian press, Nigeria's attorney general has already written to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan saying that he should assume presidential powers. Jonathan has reportedly refused, probably out of fear of offending the clique surrounding Yar'Adua. Whatever the case, a void in executive authority has existed since Yar'Adua was hospitalized a month ago.

“However, the recent arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab following a failed bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner appears to have forced Jonathan's hand. The latter has ordered the Nigerian Security Services to cooperate fully with the United States, in effect a presidential decision. 
Yar'Adua's removal from office would result in a political and constitutional crisis for the United States' most important strategic partner in Africa and one of its largest suppliers of oil. Though Yar'Adua has been ill since he assumed the presidency in 2007, there is no consensus yet among the king makers about what to do upon his removal from office.

“The most positive option is that they will reach a constitutional agreement, and the country will limp toward national elections scheduled for 2011. The worst is that the competing factions will struggle among themselves without resolution, and the army will step in and establish a military government, though with a civilian façade.

“Compromise will become more difficult because of Abdulmutallab's failed terrorist act, which highlights the existence of radical Islam in northern Nigeria that Christians--the country's population is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians--have long been skittish about. Power brokers from other parts of Nigeria now have a rationale for assuming a harder line on the continued reservation of the presidency for the north. Already, a spokesman for a Niger Delta militant group is saying that "world peace" is threatened by Islamic militants covertly supported by northern elites who assume ruling Nigeria is their birthright.

“That Abdulmutallab is the son of a rich member of the northern elite will lend credence to this claim in other parts of the country, despite his father having sounded the alarm. Abdulmutallab's father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab is a classic example of the traditional northern elite opposed by Islamic radicals seeking to establish a "just Islamic society," and by others who resent northern domination of the country since independence in 1960. Until this month, Mutallab was chairman of one of Nigeria's biggest banks and has long been a business associate of the current oil minister, also a northern Muslim. He has also twice served as a minister in northern-dominated military governments.

A Declining Regional Profile
“The likely succession challenges come after a period during which President Olusegun Obasanjo, Yar'Adua's predecessor, had successfully coordinated and promoted an African response to a host of regional crises, including those in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire. During the current president's periodic illnesses, Nigeria has cut back on its diplomatic activism, leaving a void that will be hard to fill. While under almost any scenario short of national Armageddon, Nigerian oil will continue to flow, it could be subject to interruption by competing militant factions. Reflecting current instability, international oil company investment needed to increase production is already drying up. Though not codified, a principle exists among the elites that the Presidency and Vice Presidency rotates between the north and south, between Muslim and Christian.

“Obasanjo was a Christian from near Lagos, and his vice president was a Muslim from the north. As his presidential successor, Obasanjo selected Yar'Adua, a Muslim Fulani from the north who was the surviving brother of his deputy when he was military dictator in the 1970s. Obasanjo also selected Yar'Adua's vice president, Jonathan, a Christian Ijaw from the Delta. 

By the letter of Nigeria's constitution, Yar'Adua's departure from office should make Jonathan the Chief of State.

“A Jonathan presidency would, however, deprive the Muslim north of its current share of power. Under present circumstances, it is not clear that the north would accept a Jonathan presidency, even for an interim period. It is also uncertain that the Christian south would accept Jonathan stepping aside. Even before Christmas Day, resentment had been building in other parts of the country at northern efforts to exclude Jonathan from the presidency in the event of Yar'Adua's death in office.

“Underway in the main cities of Abuja and Lagos is a king-maker scramble to resolve the succession issue to prevent Nigeria from splitting apart. A possible compromise would allow Jonathan to fill the presidency until the 2011 elections. A vice president would be appointed from the Muslim north to serve with Jonathan, although under what authority or by whom is unclear. Agreement among king makers in the north on an interim vice president will be difficult because that person would almost certainly become president in 2011 under Nigeria's system of elections, which are rigged in favor of the ruling party.

Military Intervention Concerns
“The stakes are high. Capture of the state means access to oil revenue, which the Nigerian press is estimating at up to $100 billion a year. Oil revenue has kept the competing Nigerian elites within the "system," as well as providing most of Nigeria's budget and foreign exchange. Continued access to oil revenue will be a powerful incentive for the king makers to find a way out of the current crisis, despite their regional, ethnic, and religious divisions. Nigeria's military, though much weakened, continues to regard itself as the ultimate custodian of the state.

“If the current crisis spins out of control, the Nigerian military is likely to intervene, possibly with a nominal civilian head. It would justify itself by saying it would prepare for elections and deal with "extremism" in the Niger Delta and, following the Abdulmutallab incident, in the north. Though the security procedures at Lagos's Murtala Muhammed Airport have long been criticized by international observers, they were approved as recently as November 2009 by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, only a month before Abdulmutallab's departure.

“Nevertheless, the military could also use alleged breaches in security procedures as justification for military intervention because they illustrate the government's alleged incompetence. Nigeria's history shows that once the military assumes power, it is reluctant to relinquish it. For this reason, king-maker acquiescence to a coup would be a last resort. A question for Washington policymakers would be whether any civilian and constitutional fig leaf were sufficient to prevent the kicking-in of legally mandated U.S. sanctions against military coups.

“In the meantime, Washington and Nigeria's other friends should continue to emphasize the importance of the constitution and the rule of law with respect to the succession crisis. Privately, they should also warn of the consequences for Nigeria of a military coup. They should continue to call for the reforms necessary for free, fair, and credible elections in 2011. For example, legislation making the Independent National Electoral Commission truly independent of the executive with its own funding would be an important sign that the government is committed to genuine electoral reform. Nevertheless, the reality is that other governments will have limited influence over how the succession crisis plays out,” he explained.

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