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Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday said that President Umaru Yar'Adua's family was hiding him from 'key actors in government' Jonathan, who added that he had not had 'sustained discussions' with the ailing President in the past five months, however, disclosed that he had spoken thrice with Yar'Adua's wife, Turai.

He spoke in two separate interviews with the British Broadcasting Corporation Network Africa Programme and Cable News Network on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the interview with the BBC, the Acting President also said he had also spoken with some of the President's aides. But he pointed out that Yar'Adua's physician who could have provided him (Jonathan) with information on the President's health had not contacted him.

Yar'Adua travelled to Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2010 for the treatment of acute pericarditis at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Jeddah. He returned to the country in February and has since not been seen in public.

Jonathan said, 'In terms of the last time we (Yar'Adua and I) really had sustained discussions, that was November 26, 2010 – I think so.'

He, however, explained that he had, 'on about three occasions, discussions with his (Yar'Adua) wife.'

But he did not say if the discussions with Turai were during the three months that Yar'Adua was in Saudi Arabia or after he had returned to the country.

Jonathan, who also did not disclose what Turai told him about the state of health of the President, said he had not seen the President's doctor.

He said, 'I've not seen the doctor; but I have had discussions with some of the other aides (of the President).

'He (the doctor) has not come to me. I don't want to compel him.'

Jonathan also touched on clashes in Jos, where clashes between Muslims and Christians since the beginning of this year have left many dead.

He promised to prosecute those behind the text messages that incite violence, which he said was ethnic, rather than religious.

The Acting President explained that most of the indigenous population in Jos were Christians, while 'some of the settlers – not all' are Muslims.

He said, 'So if anything touches a settler who is a Muslim, it will be interpreted as if they are attacking the Muslims.

'And if the settlers that are Muslims now touch the indigenous population that are Christian, it will be interpreted as the Christians are being attacked.

'Anybody that is remotely or directly linked up with the crisis in Jos should be prosecuted.'

The Acting President had in an interview with the CNN on Tuesday said he did not want to insist on a meeting with Yar'Adua.

In the interview which was aired on Wednesday evening, Jonathan said that the Yar'Adua family had decided to 'isolate' the President from key government functionaries.

Excerpts of a part of the interview:
Have you seen him (Yar'Adua) since his return from his medical absence in Saudi Arabia?

No, I have not seen him.
Why not?
The thinking of the family is that they should isolate him from most of the key actors in government. I have not seen him. The Senate President has not seen him… and at every single government function, I have not seen him.

Doesn't that cause anxiety amongst the people?
Yes, it does. It does. Obviously, it does, but we cannot influence his family's thinking.

Would you prefer that the family allowed you to visit him?

Yes, of course. But I will not want to force it.
What is his actual state of health? This also is a mystery.

I can't say exactly. Only the medical doctors can.

Have they told you?
No, they haven't.
Have they made any public statement?
Not quite. Not now. At the beginning, yes, but (someone's name – unclear) left for Saudi Arabia, I think in the second week or so, within the first week, we were told that he had acute pericarditis. After that, no other statement has been issued.

So if he can receive religious leaders, why can he not receive at least the Acting President who's acting in his name?

Well, religious leaders are there for (inaudible) blessings. Probably that is why they asked the religious leaders to go and pray for him. We are a very, very religious society.

Do you believe that those around him are trying to undermine you or your new cabinet?

I wouldn't say they are trying to undermine me, because the laws of the land are very clear. And, of course, that is why in the first place the constitution is designed for two people to be in charge of government at every point in time, one superior and one inferior.

Do you think he will ever come back to government?

I can't say that. It's difficult for any of us as mortals to say so.