There's uncertainty about the health and even the whereabouts of Nigerian president Umaru Yar'adua. The official word from the administration is that he is on vacation. But observers say he has not been seen at any of the three presidential retreats he normally uses for time off. Lawmakers are also complaining that the president did not inform them of his vacation plans and did not officially hand over to his deputy.
Mr. Yar'Adua's absence has reportedly slowed government business and
is causing some anxiety among the public and the business community. Oguwike
Nwachukwu is editor of the influential Sunday Independent Newspapers. He says the concern over the president's
absence unnecessary. Oguwike Nwachukwu is editor of the influential
Sunday Independent Newspapers.
He says the controversy over the president's
absence is unnecessary.
"The controversy here is that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate is
saying there was no formal letter from the president to them intimating them that
Goodluck Jonathan, who is his deputy is going to take over his responsibility issue
and I as I talk to you now, it is still at the realm of controversy. Jonathan
has gone ahead to some of the things the president used to do, or the president
is supposed to do." Nwachukwu says his paper has not been pressured
to stay away the story.
"There is a problem. The problem is really about interest. You must know that Nigerian politicians, they read a lot of meaning into so many things. What they have failed to ask themselves, or the issue they have failed to raise, is whether the president told his deputy to sign certain documents that they are afraid of or maybe to fill some gaps in areas where they have an interest. I don't think what the president has done should in any way generate controversy."
Nwachukwu says the ordinary people are more
concerned about how to improve their lives than about controversies that he
says may have been generated by prominent politicians to achieve some personal
interest. "What they people know is that the president is on holidays and his vice
is standing in for him and the government activities are moving on fine. So it is
all about the senators that have refused to do their work and they are finding loopholes
here and there. Some of them are feeling perhaps that the president should have
named them to stand in for him, when there is a deputy."