Eminent Nigerians worry over Yar'Adua's confinement

2010-03-21
THE PUNCH Newspaper-Akinwale Aborisade


ONE month after ailing President Umaru Yar‘Adua returned to Nigeria following his three-month stay in Saudi Arabia on health ground, a cross-section of eminent Nigerians have expressed worries over his continued silence and absence in governance.



Also, issues bordering on whether the ailing President was indeed in the country as well as the need to constitute a medical team to investigate his state of health topped the situation report in their requests.



Among the eminent personalities who spoke on the ailing President were lawyers, politicians and a medical practitioner.



A Lagos-based lawyer, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), expressed doubt over Yar‘Adua‘s presence in the country, saying no one was sure that the President was around.



He said, ”It is an area which has not been adjudicated by any law or constitution. My own view on the legal consequences of total absence of Yar‘Adua from public view is that it is conclusive of total health incapacity which necessitates the setting up of a medical panel.”



Sagay noted that the situation had caused Nigerians great embarrassment and expressed doubt about the President‘s ability to reclaim his position.



Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Konyinsola Ajayi, said, ”We were just told that he has come back to the country but we are not sure whether he has really come back or not. If he is in the country and he has abstained from public glare, it means that his medical condition is so bad. If a president cannot be seen they should impeach him.”



According to him, it is unfortunate that a country that deserves good leadership could be allowed to suffer without a leader.



He also frowned on the way the federal executive council had so far handled the situation, positing that it had failed in its duty to implement the section 144 of the constitution which recommends that in such a circumstance, a medical panel should be constituted to determine whether the president is still fit to rule or not.



The National Secretary, Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Ken Okoro, who said the need to constitute a medical panel was overdue, similarly expressed shock over the manner in which the President‘s ill health was handled.



Okoro said, ”You know the constitutional process that is involved. You don‘t constitute a medical team in a vacuum. We think that a medical team would have been constituted a long time ago to find out whether the president is incapacitated or not.”



However, a former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, has advised the people to put the issue of Yar‘Adua‘s health behind.



The acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, Ogunlewe said, had done well so far even as he urged Jonathan to set an agenda that could benefit the masses.



He said, ”We have passed that stage now, we are in the next stage. Let us leave Yar‘Adua out of this issue. The man is sick. He is not Mr. Nigeria and Nigeria is an institution, not a private company.”



Ogunlewe said since there could not be an acting president and a president in a country at the same time, the country needed to ensure that Jonathan took care of the critical areas such as power, education and good health services so that the young ones would not need to go abroad to acquire education.



It could be recalled that there had been heated public debate on the long absence of the president from the country and his confinement from the public since his arrival in a controversial circumstance barely a month ago.



There have been calls for the invocation of section 144 of the constitution on the president based on his deteriorating health just as some prominent Nigerians and groups had asked for his impeachment.





 

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