Former Nigerian head of state and one of Africa’s elder statesmen Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon said some of what is being said about the health of President Umaru Yar’Adua has a potential to create loss of hope in the country.
His comments came as Nigeria’s cabinet Wednesday rejected calls from about 50 public figures for President Yar’Adua to resign or prove he is fit enough to govern.
The Nigerian president has spent the last nine days in a Saudi Arabian hospital reportedly suffering from heart and chronic kidney ailment.
“It’s rather very unfortunate all that is being said about the president’s illness and the way it is being politicized,” he said.
Gowon said Nigerians should instead pray for President Yar’Adua’s quick recovery so that he can continue to do the work for which he was elected.
“I think all the things being said are very unhealthy for the country and even for politics itself. Let us hope that Mr. President gets well and gets back to his work and his commitment for what he wants to do for the country,” Gowon said.
He urged Nigerians to seize what he called diversions and stop saying things that could despondency in the country.
Gowon said he found difficult to believe that former Senate leader Ken Nnamani and former House of Representatives speaker Aminu Masari were among those who signed the statement calling for President Yar’Adua to step down.
“I’m one of those who would not believe that somebody like Senator Nnamani and his colleagues would say things that are unhelpful. I’m sure if you go deep into some of these press statements you might probably find that they are misquoted,” Gowon said.
In their letter Wednesday calling for President Yar’Adu to resign, some public figures said the president’s physical condition has had a negative impact on his ability to govern.
Member of Parliament Ita Enang from the ruling People’s Democratic Party said for now the parliament supports the Nigerian cabinet’s decision to reject the call for President Yar’Adua’s resignation.
“The constitution provides that if the president is indisposed it provides the action the cabinet could take. And there was no formal call by any agency of government for the resignation of Mr. President…the Nigerian Federal Executive Council has taken a decision that Section 144 of the Constitution is not right to be invoked,” he said.
Enang said that as of now Parliament has not received any information that is alarming on the state of President Yar’Adua’s disposition.