Yar’Adua dies at 58
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President and Commander in Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces is dead.He died late Wednesday evening, about 9 o’clock at his official residence in the Presidential Villa, Abuja. He will be buried in Katsina State by 2 pm todayIn a statement late last night, Mr. Ima Niboro spokesman of the Acting President the Federal Government has declared today a public holiday, to enable Nigerians to mourn the late president. Also beginning from today a seven- day period of mourning is to be observed. The Acting President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan summoned the leadership of the National Assembly for a meeting shortly after the news of the death. Details of the meeting were not clear but Jonathan accompanied by Speaker Dimeji Bankole, National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau, and the Chief Justice of the Federation Katsina–Ala paid a condolence visit to the family of the late president. They then returned to Jonathan’s office where they were joined by former Defence Minister Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Chief Tony Anenih and service chiefs for a meeting. One personality who was not available was former President Olusegun Obasanjo. HE was said to be on his way to China when the president passed on.The Acting President has cancelled his two-day proposed visit to Rivers State, which was supposed to start today.Sources said last night that the president’s health deteriorated in the last one week, and medical doctors were flown in from King Faisal Specialist Hospital Jedda, Saudi Arabia.The doctors found out that Yar’Adua was no more able to sleep and started administering sedatives on him. However, the sleeplessness did not abate and by 3 p.m. last night, anxiety about his health increased. Sources said he finally gave up at about 9 p.m.The President has not been seen in public since November 23, 2009 when he left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia for medical checkup.The president was flown back from Saudi Arabia in the early hours of Wednesday February 24, 2010 after 90 days in the hospital.Since his return, he has remained sequestered in his official residence. He was not seen in public but allowed selected visitors like Islamic leaders, the clergy, family members and very close associates.Rumours of his deathAt a time, the nature of his illness was buried in speculation. But sources said that the President suffered kidney failure, stroke and massive brain damage during his stay in the King Faisal Hospital. But Nigerian officials never confirmed the extent of his ill health and the official line was that the president’s health was improving.Amid growing speculations around the president’s health, a United States based Internet publication American Chronicle in January reported that the President died on 10, December 2009.The report stated that: “President Yar’Adua died on the December 10, 2009 at 3.30 pm at an Intensive Care Unit at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah Saudi-Arabia. Sources at the Hospital said the First Lady wants to keep the news secret for the next few days for personal reasons. At the time of his death he was surrounded by his wife, Turai and a childhood friend, Nigerian member of parliament.”
The report was followed by a controversial telephone interview with Yar’Adua by BBC reporter. It was the first time and the last time that Nigerians heard the voice of the President.The Presidency quickly discountenanced the rumour of the President’s death, describing it as false. Presidential spokesman, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi in a statement stated: “The President is alive and actually getting better. He is very much conscious, can talk and has been talking, including making phone calls to some people back home.”National AssemblyThe National Assembly was caught in the agitation debate over the absence of the president. The lawmakers were worried of the vacuum the absence of the President was causing especially against the background that the president didn’t handover to the vice president and didn’t transmit a letter to the lawmakers. On February 7, 2010, the National Assembly invoked the Doctrine of Necessity and conferred on the Vice president the authority to Act as President. The Senate relied on the BBC broadcast as the President’s letter of leave of absence.Three days after he traveled to Saudi Arabia, the Presidency confirmed that President Yar’Adua was suffering from Acute Pericarditis. Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Mr Olusegun Adeniyi, who read a statement prepared by the Chief Physician to the President, Dr Salisu Banye, stated that, “about 3 pm on Friday, 20 November, after he returned from the Abuja Central Mosque where he performed the Juma’at prayers, President Yar’Adua complained of left sided severe chest pain. Preliminary medical examinations suggested Acute Pericarditis, (an inflammatory condition of the coverings of the heart).“It was then decided that he should undertake confirmatory checks at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he had his last medical check-up in August. The medical review and tests undertaken at the hospital have confirmed the initial diagnosis that the President is indeed suffering from Acute Pericarditis.”Banye, added that “he (Yar’Adua) is now receiving treatment for the ailment and is responding remarkably well.”According to an internet website, Cardiology Channel, “the pericardium is a thin layer of specialized tissue that covers the outer surfaces of the heart. This tissue helps to anchor the heart in place, prevents excessive movement of the heart in the chest when body position changes, protects the heart from infections and tumours that develop in and may spread from nearby tissues, and may help keep the heart from enlarging. Inflammation of the pericardium is called pericarditis. Pericarditis frequently causes a characteristic chest pain that usually compels one to seek medical attention.”On his return on Wednesday February 20 after 90 days of absence, the Presidency admitted the presence of President Yar’Adua back to the Presidential Villa Abuja, after 90 days of stay in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.Adeniyi, in a statement stated that President Yar’Adua will continue his recuperation in Nigeria and that the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, will continue to oversee the affairs of state.Yar’Adua in the statement thanked “Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for competently overseeing the affairs of state in his absence.”The statement reads: “after being discharged by the team of medical experts overseeing his treatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Yar’Adua returned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja early this morning. “President Yar’Adua wishes to express his profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their prayers for his recovery, their exceptional generosity of spirit and their appreciation of the fact that all mortals are subject to the vagaries of ill-health. “President Yar’Adua is grateful to the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for competently overseeing the affairs of state in his absence.“The President also wishes to thank the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the entire membership of the National Assembly, the Governors’ Forum, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces and other security agencies, former heads of state and other eminent Nigerians for their roles in maintaining order and stability during his absence.
“President Yar’Adua wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved.“However, while the President completes his recuperation, Vice President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state.