Every few months, Nigeria stops at the rumors of the sickness/dying/death of its President, Umar Musa Yar'Adua. This time is no different, as the President was flown to Saudi Arabia on Monday, November 23rd, and again, citizens were told nothing until almost 3 days later, when they were informed by administration officials that Yar'Adua is not dead and "not seriously ill", yet, recovering in a Saudi hospital. But, as usual, the rumors and uncertainty persist and Nigerians wonder who is in charge of the national ship.
This time, the New York Times is reporting that Yar'Adua was treated for a "heart infection". The speculations are reaching a fevered pitch as this new diagnosis is quite different from what Nigerians assumed (because no one truly knows) was a kidney problem. It does not help that President Yar'Adua looked like this not too long before his recent medical trip to Saudi Arabia.
From this -
And, now, Twitter and other online social media sites are awash with speculation that the President is unconscious or dead. A situation that could have been avoided if this President, and his handlers, had opted for the very transparency they preach about.
THE ISSUES REMAIN THE SAME
These pictures do nothing but cause serious alarm in the heart of any good meaning person who must wonder why, considering this President's alleged health ailments, he remains in power with little explanation as to what has caused him to look so emaciated in 2 years as President. Granted, being President of Nigeria is no easy task, but to look the way the President does only fuels certain opinions that he step down, not simply for his health, but for the health and stability of the nation. It will also embolden political opportunists who swarm like vultures to take immediate advantage of an opportunity to grasp the reigns of power. Additionally, 'wazobia' (tribal) concerns are always at play in Nigerian politics. Hence, as the Economist speculated, there are apparently concerns amongst powerful Northerners over the possibility of losing the Presidency if Yar'Adua were unable to serve out his term or run for a second term.
Also, it is never too much to restate that the fact that a nation's President frequently travels abroad for health matters is a damning statement on the condition of that nation's healthcare system. For a President committed to rebranding Nigeria, it continues to send the wrong message when Yar'Adua takes his many frequent trips to Saudi Arabia, Germany or elsewhere for medical treatment. It is, quite frankly, an embarrassment to this administration and the Federal Republic. And who exactly is running the country while the President recovers? While one would assume it was Vice President Jonathan, the President's spokesperson made it clear to the New York Times that this was not the case.
This writer wishes President Yar'Adua the speediest of recoveries from whatever it is he is suffering from. However, this writer, like many Nigerians, demands to know exactly what ails the President and how that affects a nation working hard to develop and create a better future for present and future generations. Is he suffering from a kidney problem, a heart issue, both or more? One look at the most recent picture of Yar'Adua should give all cause for concern and hope for nothing but the best. But, just because Nigerians want the best for their President does not mean that same President should ignore the rights of citizens to know what is going on.
UPDATE: Yar'Adua's 'heart condition' is called pericarditis and according to the BBC, it is "triggered by cancer".
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