50103: Nigeria’s minister of information calls on Yar’adua’s aides to clarify his condition

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications Prof Dora Akuniyli yesterday insisted those aides close to President Umaru Yar’adua should be honest about his state of health if he remains unable to address government after his return from a Saudi hospital five days ago

Speaking with media in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, she said that, “It is in the best interest of the country if our president comes out to address us if he is in a position to do so. But if he is not in a position to do so, people around our president should be honest enough to come out and tell us the true situation of his health.”

Some Nigerian newspapers had yesterday quoted Akunyili as saying that a cabal around Yar’adua was dishing out orders in the name of the president, alleging that, “The cabal (around Yar’adua) wants to continue with their usual statement of ‘the President said and you must comply.”

“They want to continue dishing out instructions even when the president did not say so ... They sneaked him into this country in the night ... I think it’s something that is unnecessary and uncalled for,” she said.

Prof Akunyili is the first minister to openly criticize the handling of Yar’adua’s absence, raising the prospect of divisions within the cabinet. This led to Jonathan’s taking of executive powers on February 9, thereby ending months of state paralysis.

Akunyili was recently come under series of pressures when she was asked to step down especially when she insisted that she would only continue to take instructions from Jonathan who is currently the acting president.

On the resignation, she said, “If anybody comes up tomorrow to explain to me why it is necessary for me to resign so as to help stabilize the polity, I will not waste one minute.”

Meanwhile, a political group, the Future Nigeria group (FNG) said yesterday in Abuja that ailing President Umaru Yar’adua did not commit any offence or breach the constitution by not appearing in public five days after his return from Saudi Arabia.

In a statement the group said that the prompt directive by President Yar’adua to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to oversee the affairs of the state while he recuperates is enough to show that the president means well for the country.

The group further cautioned people with unbridled desperation for power to stop their grid unless they want to thrown the nation into confusion.

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