Nigerian newspapers and international news agencies are reporting that President Yar'Adua is sick and currently in hospital in Saudi Arabia. Yar'Adua left to participate in the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia right after firing the Chief of Defense Staff, the head of the Army and Navy, last week. The President;s health situation has resulted in the indefinite postponement of a state visit to Brazil which was to occur on Thursday, August 28th.
A HISTORY OF HEALTH ISSUES
Even before he became President, Yar'Adua's health was a mystery. Nigerians were informed that he had a 'kidney condition' but were, unfortunately, never given any specifics. At one point, I even got information from a reliable source that he had died in March 2007. As President, Yar'Adua was in Germany for medical care as recently as April this year. When asked about his health and fitness to be President this year, he famously told the Financial Times,
"...I am not a super-human being; I don’t know one yet, but certainly I’m not one. I am a normal human being who can fall sick, recover, who can die, ... and who is fit enough to be president."THE ISSUES REMAIN
As a Nigerian, I am obviously concerned about the welfare of Yar'Adua and hope that whatever ails him can be cured and/or managed, so he can return to his Presidential duties and his family duties. That being said, the frequent visits to foreign hospitals for medical care only serve to heighten and fuel the concerns and rumors about Yar'Adua's health. It is only fair to wonder how Nigeria can develop when its leader is so often away from the helm? Last year, I asked,
"[a]ssuming that Yar'Adua becomes president and is in 'frail' or difficult health, how will he adequately address the cumbersome issues Nigeria faces?Nigerians need the security of knowing that it has a leader that is capable of dealing with the complexities of the nation. For Yar'Adua's health to continue to be such a prominent concern even after a year in Aso Rock, does little to assure the people and the world whose eyes are on Nigeria for a variety of reasons. Are the people to assume that if, for any reason, the President was incapable of fulfilling his duties, the nation would be in 'good hands' under Vice President Goodluck Jonathan? The thought of that is far from comforting given the corruption scandal involving Jonathan's wife which have died down now that her husband is the Vice President. Specifically, in 2006, $13.5 million was seized from Patience Jonathan in a now stalled EFCC investigation.
Then, there is always the military factor. One cannot discuss power in Nigeria without factoring in the military due to the many military dictatorships in the country's not too distant past. With military disctators controlling the country, the military became powerful and enjoyed the nation's oil wealth, using that wealth to its advantage. Nigeria's military is therefore a significant part of the Nigerian power structure and the possibility of a coup can never be too far from the mind. Consequently, Yar'Adua's health might help explain the military reshuffling that just occured less than a week ago. Although every President has the right to replace military heads, one cannot help but question whether the reality of an oncoming trip for medical care forced Yar'Adua to do away with those powerful enough to seize the reigns of power in a coup. If that is the case, what does that say about the perception of Yar'Adua by not just the military but the population at large?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW?
If there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that no matter what happens, Nigerians will keep on doing what they always do. They will adapt to constantly changing circumstances and overwhelmingly survive. Some, like the wonderful writers at the Nigerian Health Watch, will even use this recent trip to remind us all about the dire need for adequate health care and basic necessities in Nigeria. Personally, I just want all to end well for Yar'Adua, for Nigerians and for Nigeria.
- Wanted Dead Or Alive
- Rest In Peace
- "We Need Fresh Blood Haba!!!! Bones Are Weak!!!"
- The Consequences of Ya'Adua's Mysterious Health