Tags: Nigeria | confused | ailing | president

Nigerians Confused Over Return of Ailing President

Thursday, 25 February 2010 11:17 AM

LAGOS – Umaru Yar'Adua's unexpected return to Nigeria while still too ill to resume office has undermined the acting president and sown further confusion in the government, analysts say.

"We are just creating a bundle of confusion in the presidency and postponing proper governance of the country by the return of a president who is unfit to assume office," political analyst Akin Durojaiye told AFP.

He added that acting president Goodluck Jonathan, handed full powers in a controversial parliamentary vote earlier this month, is "not sure now of his own status."

Yar'Adua was hospitalised for 93 days in Saudi Arabia with an acute heart condition. He has not appeared in public since his return in the early hours of Wednesday morning, when his plane was met by an ambulance.

The presidency said on Wednesday that Jonathan would remain in charge while the 58-year-old president continues his recuperation.

"If Yar'Adua is not fully recovered now that he is back, that portends a serious problem for the country. His presence in the country without being in office will bring confusion into governance," said Saidu Dogo, secretary general of Christian Association of Nigeria.

Yar'Adua is from the Muslim dominated north, his deputy Jonathan from the largely Christian south.

With Yar'Adua's return, "indications are that, at best, the country may have only graduated from absentee presidency to a phantom alternative," wrote the influential Guardian newspaper Thursday.

"Confusion in Aso Rock" the newspaper headlined, referring to the presidential palace.

Private newspaper The Punch also highlighted Nigeria's political disarray with a headline: "Yar'Adua's return throws presidency into confusion."

The United States, which along with other powers has been watching events in the major oil producer closely, had already sounded alarm bells within hours of Yar'Adua's return.

"We hope that President Yar?Adua?s return to Nigeria is not an effort by his senior advisors to upset Nigeria?s stability and create renewed uncertainty in the democratic process," Washington's top envoy to Africa, Johnnie Carson, said in a statement.

Lagos constitutional lawyer Festus Keyamo said that the presence of Yar'Adua around Jonathan "will be enough to destabilise him and make him tentative in his decisions."

"It may also lead to an unnecessary power tussle between loyalists of Jonathan and Yar'Adua and this will divide the presidency and further polarise the country," he said.

Bayo Okunade, professor of political science at Ibadan University, agreed.

"Yar'Adua's presence without functioning will introduce some confusion into governance. Jonathan will be incapacitated and the cabinet will be divided and this will not help the country," he told AFP.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili said Wednesday that no early meeting had been planned between Yar'Adua and his erstwhile deputy. Jonathan was expected to meet only with the president's wife, Turai, to be briefed on his state of health.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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LAGOS – Umaru Yar'Adua's unexpected return to Nigeria while still too ill to resume office has undermined the acting president and sown further confusion in the government, analysts say.
Thursday, 25 February 2010 11:17 AM
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