Monday, January 25, 2010

President Yar'adua returns this week

President Umaru Yar'adua's controversial two-month stay in a Saudi Arabian hospital will shortly come to an end when he returns to the country later this week, most likely on Friday, Daily Trust learnt from senior officials in Abuja and Jeddah last night.

The sources said elaborate arrangements have been made for the president's return, including a facelift of his office at the State House.

Sources said in Jeddah said Nigerian diplomatic officials there have been running around in recent days making final preparations for the president's impending departure. Although the officials said Yar'adua's health has improved a lot, it was not clear whether his impending return was hastened by increasing political pressure at home, including the two-week deadline given to the Federal Executive Council by Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Justice Dan Abutu to take a position on the president's ability to discharge his duties.

Incidentally, the Senate will tomorrow hold a crucial debate on the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution and take a final position on the ill health of President Umaru Musa Yar'adua, which has kept him out of the country for 62 days today.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) told Daily Trust last night that the Senate would check what its powers are under the constitution and invoke the relevant sections to deal with the crisis.

After a closed door meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mahmud Yayale Ahmed last Thursday, Daily Trust gathered that Senate gave a Tuesday deadline to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to come up with a concrete solution to the president's absence or face stiff legislative action.

Some senators have been pushing for activation of Sections 143 or 144 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which could see the president either impeached for refusal to comply with Section 145 or have his health status investigated. Ahead of the debate, Senate has denied allegations that some members of the National Assembly have been bribed to compromise their stance in the matter. Reacting to reports that some lawmakers have been paid to influence their views during the debate, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) said the allegation is false and unfounded.

He said, "The Senate cannot be compromised. Besides, there is no issue to contemplate settling anybody, outside the few individuals who have become accustomed to the culture of being settled on every issue."

Eze also said, "This is false and the figment of the fertile minds of some fifth columnists who think that by discrediting the National Assembly, they will have a field day in the polity.

"The Senate, being a responsible institution, is and will always be guided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am aware that our constitution has guaranteed certain freedoms, including the information to hold and impart information. But in exercise of these freedoms we must have respect for other people's freedom."

On the proposed debate on the Presidents' health scheduled for tomorrow in the Senate, Eze said every member shall be entitled to his or her opinion "at the end of which we shall base our action on the aggregate view of all senators.

Even then, we shall be guided by the constitution in whatever we shall do or say. I urge Nigerians to be patient and shun self-seeking people who will always exploit every situation for their selfish gains. I have no doubt that some of the views in the papers were sponsored to cause panic and thereby stampede some people to seek out people for settlement."

Daily Trust

Related stories: President Yar'adua hospitalized in Saudi Arabia

Video - CNN reports on Nigeria's missing president

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