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Nigeria State Governors Urge Endorsement of VP as Acting President

Nigeria's powerful regional governors want parliament to pass a resolution, as early as next week, endorsing Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as acting president. President Umaru Yar'Adua has been away for more than two months receiving treatment for a heart condition in Saudi Arabia.

The governors join a growing number of Nigerians, including former heads of state, lawmakers, and the opposition calling for Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to take over as acting president.

A member of the cabinet this week asked President Yar'Adua to hand over power to his deputy, at least in the interim, suggesting a possible split among ministers who have -- until now -- given the ailing president their unanimous support.

Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe admits ministers are very worried about Nigeria's current difficulties, but says officials appointed by the president remain loyal to him.

"As views are expressed we will stay united. Every member of the cabinet loves this country. Every member is loyal to the president," he said. "Every member of this cabinet is concerned about the current difficulties we are going through. And I am sure that there will be enough wisdom, enough statesmanship both in the cabinet and outside the cabinet that we all as much as possible speak with one voice.. And I believe that is what is going to happen," he added.

The 58-year-old president has not been seen in public since he flew to Saudi Arabia in November, prompting speculation on his condition and calls for a transfer of power to the vice president.

The growing speculation over Mr. Yar'Adua comes as Africa's most populous nation and largest energy producer faces its most serious constitutional crisis in decades.