Tension eases in Abuja as Yar'Adua fails to show up at mosque

THE PUNCH Newspaper-Fidelis Soriwei

Tension enveloped Abuja on Friday as a rumour that ailing President Umaru Yar‘Adua would worship at the National Mosque made the rounds, making a power struggle between the ailing president and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan likely.

The rumour, which began in the wee hours of Friday morning became rife as the time for the afternoon Jumat prayer approached. However, it soon petered out as prayers started at the mosque without President Yar‘Adua showing up as speculated. Rather, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Secretary to the Federal Government were the highest level government officials who worshipped at the mosque.

Also, apart from the normal presence of security personnel on official assignment, particularly for the purpose of traffic control in the busy area, there was nothing to suggest that the President was being expected.

However, Saturday Punch‘s investigations showed that the move to make the President worship at the mosque despite his ill health was indeed real and was planned by a group of ex-ministers and presidency officials who are bent on seizing the reins of power from the Acting President and returning it to the cabal that ruled during Yar‘Adua‘s sojourn in Saudi Arabia.

Had the move succeeded it would have been the first time that the President would be seen in public since he was airlifted to Saudi Arabia in November 2009 for the treatment of heart-related complications at a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Saturday Punch reliably learnt that those behind the move had contacted some proprietors of electronic media houses with national coverage to dispatch cameramen to the National mosque on Friday for the planned presentation of YarÁdua at the mosque on Friday. However, this invitation was not extended to reporters from the print media.

Curiously, the media managers of some of the key members of the cabal who coordinated this media arrangement refused the offer of a live coverage of the event by the media proprietors, opting instead for a short recording of comments by the President, which were to be later aired on some select media organisations in the country before a move would be made against Jonathan.

However, Saturday Punch‘s findings show that the Acting President and his kitchen cabinet didn‘t treat the issue with kids‘ gloves. A source in the Presidency who was involved in the process told our correspondent that several meetings were held all through Thursday night and into the early hours of Friday morning to deal with the situation.

The pre-emptive measures taken by the attendees at the meeting is said to have nipped the plan of the Yar‘Adua group in the bud.


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