IN the early hours of Monday, November 23, 2009, when President Umaru Yar’Adua was being flown to Saudi Arabia, one thing was on the mind of a handful of his minders. Made up largely of those with whom Yar’Adua had worked with as Katsina State governor and who are now powerful members of his cabinet in Abuja, they believed the situation could very well be managed. And if people were going to travel with Yar’Adua, they would be members of the inner sanctum made up of his ADC, Mustapha Onoyiveta; his chief security officer, CSO, Yusuf Tilde; and, of course, the man called Distinguished, Inuwa Baba.
Yar’Adua has for company in Saudi Arabia these three persons and his wife, Turai. 49 days gone, Nigerians are worried that their President has been away for so long. Some Nigerians believe the manner of his departure from the country is in breach of Section 145 of the Constitution which states that he should transmit a letter to the leadership of the National Assembly whenever he would be away, signaling an immediate assumption of the mantle of presidency by his deputy.
That was not done. And the crises this action has created continue to generate tension in the land. And when it appeared as though the Supplementary Budget for 2009, approved by the National Assembly might not be assented to by the President, an aide was flown to Saudi Arabia from whence the budget was reportedly signed by President Yar’Adua.
Well, as has been going on for the past 49 days, the aide who took the budget to Saudi Arabia did not set eyes on President Yar’Adua. In fact, he handed the budget to the ADC who in turn offered him a seat in an ante office, went to meet Yar’Adua and after about two hours, came out with the document signed. He returned to the country immediately after. And whereas there are those insisting that the signature should be investigated, there is yet no proof that Yar’Adua did not sign the signature himself. Sunday Vanguard has been informed that there is a four-way communication between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, a link which facilitates President Yar’Adua’s hold on power.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that though Yar’Adua may be recovering well, he is not strong enough to confront the rigours of presidential responsibilities for now. And whereas it was the chief economic adviser to the president who informed Nigerians that his boss had spoken to four Nigerians including Vice president Goodluck Jonathan, it had to take another 24 hours for Jonathan himself to tell the Federal Executive Council, FEC, that he, indeed spoke with Yar’Adua.
This, according to a source, is the new template of governance in Nigeria for now. It may not likely change until the return of the president. Though the constitution makes no provision for what should happen in the event that a President does not transmit the letter to the National Assembly, there are those calling for the invocation of Section 143, which deals with impeachment, an option which may never work in an environment of conflicting interests of geo-political dimensions.
The link in Saudi Arabia
*Turai, wife, first lady, powerful.
*Inuwa Baba, (aka Distinguished) very powerful, full of wisdom, a family member; was said to be the link between Obasanjo and Yar’Adua and the outside world while they were in jail during the Sani Abacha days.
*ADC, Mustapha Onoyiveta, very, very close to Mr. President.
*CSO, Yusuf Tilde – very powerful
Link in Nigeria
*Dr. Abba Ruma, Minister of Agric and Water Resources
*Tanimu Yakubu, Chief Economic Adviser
*Serki Muhktar, Major-General (rtd), National Security Adviser, NSA
*Michael Aondoakaa, Attorney General and Minister of Justice
*Mansur Muhktar, Finance Minister
*Hassan Lawal, Minister of Works
State affairs that have suffered in the absence of Mr. President
*Swearing-in of CJN
*Swearing-in of 15 new permanent secretaries
*Signing of 2009 Supplementary Budget
*Ambassadors waiting to present letters of credence and oil lifting license renewal