Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nigerian President Yar'Adua to Return Home This Week

Yar’adua returns home this week

Written by Abdul-Rahman Abubakar
Nigeria Daily Trust
Sunday, 24 January 2010 22:44

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.”


PDP tackles former President:Obasanjo is ridiculous

Written by Muideen Olaniyi
Nigerian Daily Trust
Sunday, 24 January 2010 22:47

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the Chairman of its own Board of Trustees (BOT) Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as an insincere man and a subject of ridicule over his call last week on President Umaru Musa Yar’adua to resign from office due to ill-health.

Obasanjo had during the 7th Trust Annual Dialogue held in Abuja last Thursday, advised ailing President Yar’adua to consider “taking the path of honour and the path of morality” by resigning from his office. He also berated the performance of the Federal Government in the power sector since Yar’adua took over, and he denied that he imposed a sick man on the nation as president in 2007.

Speaking in Abuja yesterday, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali said “General Obasanjo has been a subject of ridicule despite his pre-eminent position in society is unfortunate and indeed a great disservice to all the accolades he has garnered for himself over the years. It is even worse that the odium he currently faces from friends and foes alike is self inflicted because his comments are generally perceived as unwarranted and an insincere attempt at self exoneration.” Alkali wondered why “a revered statesman like the former President would prefer making unguarded statements on sensitive issues openly to using the party’s channel of communication.”

He said as a major and undisputed beneficiary of Nigeria’s democracy, the minimum expected from General Obasanjo even in the face of provocation is a measured and calm demeanour, wise counsel and a demonstration of good faith aimed at enhancing national unity and stability.

He also said the focus of the PDP BOT Chairman at this point in time should have been on the grave security situation in Jos, Plateau State where scores of innocent citizens were being killed or maimed in a senseless war of attrition by people who otherwise should have been their brothers’ keepers.

Alkali, who said the party distanced itself from the BOT Chairman’s statements and would engage Obasanjo through the channels of communication it had with him, however ruled the possibility of engaging him on the issues he raised in public.

He said, “When our attention was initially drawn to the remarks he made at the 7th Trust annual lecture, we dismissed it as mere speculations and that the former leader must have been quoted out of context. However, since General Obasanjo has not come out to deny these statements credited to him nearly one week after, we believe them to be a true reflection of what he said at that event.

“It is regrettable, indeed sad that for the second time in less than a year, our Chairman of the BOT has chosen to abandon established channels of communication to comment on very sensitive matters which are capable of causing disharmony and disaffection in the country,” he further stated.

Alkali added: “The general condemnation which his statement has attracted nationwide in the last few days shows that his comments are ill timed, in bad taste and have not in any way added value to the dominant issues of the day. The PDP therefore finds it difficult to understand what his motives are, and what he seeks to achieve by these needless pronouncements.

“We however wish to distance our party from his statements and wish to advise all our leaders to weigh their opinions before they utter them in order not to undermine our democratic gains and expose our country to ridicule,” the PDP spokesperson stated.


AC upbraids Obasanjo over Yar’adua

Written by Muideen Olaniyi
Nigerian Daily Trust
Sunday, 24 January 2010 22:35

The Action Congress (AC) yesterday criticised former President Olusegun Obasanjo for advising President Umaru Musa Yar’adua to take the path of honour and resign.

AC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the former President was only trying to exonerate himself from the mess in which his self-centredness and lack of visionary leadership have landed Nigeria.

Mohammed said Obasanjo is being clever by half by suddenly turning against President Yar’adua, whom he imposed on Nigerians.

He said:“The old fox is at it again, trying to ride on the crest of widespread disenchantment with the constitutional crisis that has been created by President Yar’adua’s failure to legally transfer power to his deputy while on a prolonged medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

“Obasanjo cleverly waited until Nigerians have started massive demonstrations against the crisis, which has left Nigeria without a leader for nearly 60 days, before making his clearly cheeky statement in which he asked President Yar’Adua to take the path of honour and resign.

“Obasanjo, ever willing to reap where he did not sow, waited until the courts have started ruling on the several cases aimed at ending the unnecessary crisis, before suddenly pitching his tent with Nigerians. In other words, he wanted to know where the tide will turn before taking a public stand on the issue. But Nigerians are not deceived.

“Had Obasanjo himself taken a path of honour, he would have first apologised to his compatriots for short-changing them through the imposition of a sick and incompetent leadership; Had Obasanjo taken the path of honour, Nigeria would not have been in this mess in the first instance, because he would have allowed the people to freely elect their leader.

“Therefore, let Obasanjo lead by example: He should take the path of honour by owning up to his shenanigans that left Nigerians saddled with a President consigned to spending a better part of his tenure attending to his own failing health rather than serving a country desperately in need of purposeful leadership,” he further stated.

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