President Umaru Yar’Adua has returned to Nigeria after 3 months away receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Apparently Yar’Adua flew back into Nigeria on Tuesday (February 23) night on board a presidential jet, while members of a government delegation that travelled to Saudi Arabia to see him, flew back to Nigeria in a separate plane, after not being allowed to see Yar’Adua.
Reuters quoted a Saudi official at Jeddah airport as saying “”The president left at 10:22 p.m. (1922 GMT) alone in a plane and another plane carried Nigerian government envoys,” the official at Jeddah airport told Reuters. Al Jazeera has confirmed that Yar’Adua is back in Nigeria, in the capital Abuja. Reuters reported that two presidential planes landed in the presidential wing of Nigeria’s international airport in Abuja.
Return Borne Out of Fear
The timing is very telling. The political mood in Nigeria has been moving toward having Yar’Adua PERMANENTLY declared incapacitated, and the “acting” President Good luck Jonathan has been treated with some hope and optimism with many assuming that Yar’Adua was not coming back, and urging Jonathan to carry out reforms.
Things were not looking good for Yar’Adua: his cabinet ally Michael Aondoakaa was removed as Attorney-General and Justice Minister the same day that Jonathan became acting President. Then the cabinet were become increasingly insistent in demanding to know the state of Yar’Adua’s health. They went to so far as to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia with a mandate to physically see the President to ascertain his condition. Yar’Adua’s return must be viewed in this context. He and his allies are feeling the heat, and are trying to pre-empt any moves that could permanently sideline Yar’Adua from power.
However now that Yar’Adua is back, what next? Is he healthy enough to resume as President? Will Jonathan stand aside for him? Things are heating up….