Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua is back home after
spending more than two weeks in Saudi Arabia. However, the mystery surrounding
his health remains and the lack of information is affecting both the government
reporter Chinedu Offor is on assignment in Nigeria. From the capital, Abuja, he
spoke to English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the mood in the
country following the president's return.
mood is that of confusion. No one actually knows what is going on. Close aides
of the president are not talking. The information minister is not talking….
Government business has virtually slowed down. Some businesses are at a
standstill as everyone waits for the direction the president wants to take. But
the mood all over the country is one of apprehension and fear and everybody's
demanding to know the true status of the president's health," he says.
Yar'Adua returned home without any fanfare. Offor says, "None whatsoever. To
put it in context, when a president returns to the country there's usually a
guard of honor. There are dignitaries and top government officials. But
President Yar'Adua got into the country at 2 a.m., virtually without the
knowledge of his close associates. He came into the country with his close
family, aides, and he was whisked immediately to the government house in Aso
Rock. Top government officials have not seen him. They wanted to see him, but
he's not allowed any appointment. But sources say that the president is not in
the best of health."
whether there was any new information about reports the president was treated
for a kidney ailment in Saudi Arabia, Offor says, "What has come out is finally
government officials have confirmed that he may have been in the hospital. When
the story broke they said he went to the pilgrimage in Mecca and that he was
staying back to get some rest and recovery. When people demanded to know more,
then the story came out that he may have used it (the trip) to check in with
his doctors. When people didn't buy that, they said, oh, yeah, it was a little
bit serious, but that has not incapacitated the president. That he may be back
in a few days. When days turned into weeks, they...owned up that something was
wrong. But one thing is clear from our sources that it was much more serious
than authorities want to acknowledge and they're putting a brave face to it."
Opposition parties are demanding to
know the status of the president's health. So far, there's no word from the
government as to exactly when the president would make a public appearance.