Why President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua should resign

I am starting my commentary by stating in very clear terms that I wish the President Umura Musa Yar’Adua well. I really do. I had stated my confidence in him in the past. However, I cannot fool myself or cloud my sense of judgement with emotion. Umaru Yar’Adua, in my view, is no longer fit (has he ever been?) to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – on account of his poor health. He needs to resign now when it is still honourable to do so.

President Umaru Yar'Adua
President Umaru Yar'Adua. Photo credit: BBC News

I speak for myself and many other Nigerians when I say we are becoming increasingly impatient with the frequent trips abroad for medical treatment. Isn’t it a shame that after over 2 years in office, his government has not deemed it fit to upgrade at least one hospital in Nigeria to a point where that hospital can meet all his medical needs and be available to other Nigerians? Is it possible that there are hospitals that can meet his medical needs but his government wants to hide the true state of his health and thus prefers to secretly treat him abroad? Why did his government take so long to publicly state his ailment?

Just yesterday, the Federal Executive Council issued a statement which read in part:

“Council, having reviewed all the facts on ground, unanimously resolved that there is no basis for the invocation of provisions of Section 144 of the Constitution, for the reason that the President has not been found incapable of discharging his functions.

“Council wishes to inform all Nigerians that all organs of government are functioning, and that government will continue to deliver.”

To put their statement in context, these are people nominated by the President, and approved by the Legislature. Their statement should therefore be seen as an effort to protect their cushy jobs & fat allowances, and not necessarily an accurate representation of the unfolding events.

BBC News paints a clearer picture:

Mr Yar’Adua has acute pericarditis, or inflammation of the lining around the heart, his spokesman told the BBC.

Mr Yar’Adua has had a chronic kidney condition for at least 10 years.
He has been unable to perform a number of official duties because of recurring health problems.

How does a man who has problems with two critical organs – his heart and kidney – insist on leading a nation of over 150 million strong-headed people? Nigeria is at a critical phase of catching-up after decades of slow development and needs a honest & strong able-bodied leader not one that is flown-out so frequently on medical grounds. We have wasted enough time for each time the nation is put on hold whilst he flies to Germany and Saudi Arabia in pursuit of his medical redemption.

I hope the government of Nigeria would take a cue from Fidel Castro and develop Nigeria’s medical facilities to world-class standards instead of spending foreign exchange on medical trips abroad. When Fidel Castro became gravely ill, he re-signed. Due to the fact that he had developed the medical facilities in his country during his decades of strong rule, there was no need to fly him out of Cuba. He was treated by Cuban doctors and is recuperating in his own country.

Whilst wishing him a speedy and full recovery, I wish to emphasise that he considers the best interest of himself and his immediate family by quit carrying the burden of Nigeria.

What are your views? Should President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua resign on the grounds of ill-health? Are the clamour for his resignation justified or hyped? Please share your thoughts in the comments area.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.

19 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I think you hit on the point I was also trying to make in my blog yesterday and even with the example of Cuba, it is close to home than the example of Western leaders I gave.

    Which is, if we are always making comparisons with Western nations, why can we not aspire to the national pride, self-reliance and self-respect of having hospitals in the class of those of those Western nations we rush to when ill?

    The other point I made was that of bringing the fervour of running for public office into public service by building institutions of excellence.

    I am hopeful something right would eventually get done.

    Regards,

    Akin

    • Thanks for your comment Akin. Indeed, I deliberately stayed away from giving examples of western nations. I like to give examples of nations with whom Nigeria has similar past experiences of colonization as I believe those are better examples. Can you compare Malaysia, Brazil, South Africa to Nigeria? Yet, all those nations were once colonized like Nigeria but they have managed to develop their infrastructure over the years. Nigeria is still far behind. There should be no limits to our aspirations as a nation but mentioning western nations as examples might be an over-kill, for now.

    • Any objective individual with no selfish interest would agree that President Yar’Adua should resign.

      Its a good thing that some in the North have added their voice that the constitution must be followed to the letter should the President resign. Let’s hope the power-hungry ticks who have little to offer Nigeria but are desperate to cling to power, are listening.

      I just hope the pressure can be kept and we get rid of this man.

      Do you dislike him that much? 😉

  2. I see my neighbours beard burning… anarchy is a scary possibility if his health condition is indeed precarious and could result in an abrupt termination of his term via death. Objective assessment is what the nation needs.

  3. The Constitution is merely a guide that is agreed by a majority of the affected. Those affected are to give that Constitution the honour by applying its letter with integrity and honour. This will help command respect for the Constitution by the affected and foreigners.

    There have been instances in history that state leaders have been medically infame and they have remained in their position till the end of their term even though their functions were being carried out by another executive. The constitutional provision referred to in your article, section 144, is only to be employed in very extreme situations where the president or vice-president is labouring under any medical condition that the executive council believe is affecting the decision of the executive and the good governance of the state.

    It is not to be invoked even when the executive is labouring under any medical condition that the executive council believe is affecting the decision of the executive and the good governance of the state, if the affected executive is prepared to let another executive or the executive council take executive decisions and govern the state while the affected executive receives treatment.

    This shows the honour and integrity of the state’s executive council. Section 144 should not be invoked unless extremely necessary in very extreme circumstances. The section in common palance best describes what is called ‘constitutional coup’ and which in my humble opinion was wrongly applied by General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi in 1966.

    The press as the ‘forth arm’ and protectors of democratic governance and all good Nigerians should be heard crying out loudly for caution before the invokation of section 144.

    God bless democracy.

    Olu OGUNNAIKE

  4. I accept your candid opinion Niyyie!

    The best of the situation is a lesson for the future. Presidential aspirants should be cleared of health issues before vying for the public office.

    As for his resignation. Capital NO! Yar’adua should stay and die on the throne. And I believe he will not die.

    Let’s do our best to encourage him with our positive, optimistic words about his health.

    I LOVE Yar’adua!

    • Using the word “throne” in itself is pregnant with meaning. The Presidency is NOT a monarchy and not the exclusive preserve of any single person or single interest group. So, it is not a do-or-die affair.

      • “Throne” I mean the Presidency. Is better to die in the battle field than to resign to fate. This is my true definition of a hero.

        Good luck Jonathan has been physically strong doing all the things that Mr. President can’t do bcos of his health challenge.

        Democracy is not all about the President. If this adminsitration fails, share the blame among the Executive, Judiciary and Legistration.

        Let’s focus on building a solid democratic system and stop being distracted by His health issue.

  5. As a Medical doctor, I am convinced that Mr. President and his cohorts have something they are hiding from Nigerians. Hence his frequent hospital trips. Why do i say so?
    I have been in medical practice for just about 3 years now and with my little experience, I can comfortably handle a case of Acute pericarditis without any senior doctor’s supervision.

    I remember in the days during my Houseman-ship at the University of Calabar teaching hospital, at the cardiothoracic unit, we had this patient who had Down’s syndrome. Pericarditis and pericardia effusion are common findings in these people. So this little girl usually comes down with massive pericardial effusion which is by far more life threatening than an acute pericarditis (what we are told the president has). With a simple 20ml syringe, we easily relieve the patient with a pericardiocentesis (a procedure where fluid is drained from the covering of the heart.)And that i mean was done at the patient’s bedside not even in the theater. So the question is, how can Mr. President stay this long in a hospital for a simple case of Acute Pericarditis? Why should he be flown abroad for a case that even a House officer in Nigeria can manage?

    These are the questions FEC members should be made to answer. The truth is that, they are actually hiding something. Mr. President’s health is worse than we are made to believe but they are only hoping he will get well soon. I am however disappointed that Mr. President is allowing all these to continue.

    • The truth is it is possible our dear President is suffering from a different ailment and not what they are telling us. African nay Nigerians are hospitable and caring people. Why is it that non of our loyal tradional rulers have not gone to visiting charade our ailing president on his sick bed. It is also strange that even our bicyle riding foreign minister Chief Ojo Madueke has not gone to visit our ailing president in Saudi Arabia not to talk of governments mouth piece affable Mrs Akinyuli. E get as e be my brother. In normal circumstances, I am sure thousand would have been falling over each other to empathise with our sick president and his family, but this not to be. I hope our beloved President is not placed under a kind of “quarantine”, abi, why people nor fit see am. Haba, make una tell us the truth ooo, so that this man go get honour on his last daysoooo. Got help our President to get well quick, Amen

  6. This whole thing about limiting leadership to physical health is very bogus and i urge you to stop it!!!

    Fidel Castro was in charge of Cuba while in a sick bed!!! He only gave up when he thought best so to do!!!

    it’s important to ask questions and seek answers about the true state of affairs but to decide that the president can’t function as president just because of physical health is bogus!!! especially so when you don’t have proof that his brains aren’t functioning!!!

    if you are calling for the head of the president bcos of corruption or some other breaches worth such a call then i’d have supported you but this business of health is very primitive!!!

    • My brother, Fidel Castro never left Cuba for treatment during his ailment. So, there is no basis for comparison. President Yar’Adua sneaked out of the country,if it were a royal throne, we can presume he had abdicated.

  7. YAR’ ADUA: WEIGHING THE NATIONAL INTEREST AGAINST THE DEMAGOGUES’

    One thing capable of ruining the economy of any nation is the activities of the demagogues. Propaganda on its own, if done with a bona fide intent is a very good thing. The question therefore follows: What good can we derive when propaganda is for selfish interest? This simply calls for my attention in respect of the call on president Yar’ Adua to resign the office and those who choose to see nothing wrong even in the face of this blatant incapability of our president.

    Truly, no one will expect a housefly to side any man other than he with a sore. However, there is a need to weigh the interest of Nigeria against any interest that might be accrued to people like Dora Akunyili and the Minister of state for health who have chosen to proclaim peace to our overt and apparent set back in Nigeria.

    The Minister of state for health has responded that there is nothing wrong even in the face of president’s inability to attend to the issues of the nation. He mentioned inter alia, that peace has been brought into the Niger Delta. Are we to dwell on the past and never to progres? Are we to say since he has been able to bring Peace into the Niger Delta now, there is no need to do any thing in the country any longer? Have you ever considered the pain one incures where he needs just a signature of a man that cannot be found?

    It is true that we have a good president. We cant deny that he is a listening man with good response but incapacitation is not synonymous with any thing other than an inability to perform. Whatever therefore people like Dora Akunyili among others, profess to understand from our constitutional provision that orders resignation on the ground of incapacitation is something they will need to interpret to the nation. I mean We can’t paint a dead goat in a white paint in order to prevent odour; it is time we remove it from the street.

    Another word of caution to the minister of state for health is that he should learn to be a gentle man anywhere he represents the nation. We were not very happy the way he responded to the interview on the BBC, so aggressively that he would not even listen to the next question. Nobody is blaming you for fighting the cause of your bread winner, but the interest of our nation is the number one.

    Hence, I hereby advise that our president should resign: considering the fact that the priority to live should outweigh that of ruling the nation at all cost. Although, it is incontestable that he would do his best if his health permits, but if otherwise, there is nothing to force himself over. If a trap will kill no rat, at least the hunter should retain his palm kernel. I mean if the SEVEN AGENDA and VISION 2020 are falling through, we can do something else.

    Finally, I must remind the Mr.president that his enemies are those who will not advise him about his resignation. They are the ones waiting to see him dead so that they can laugh and do their enterprise; when the calabash from which they have drunk is shattered they will turn their back. Praise singers, be warned! Let our nation progress, for enough to this fruitless propaganda.

    I must say this, to conclude, we are praying for you Mr. President because your health, particularly to me, is of the utmost priority and may God of heaven grant you healing and peace of mind in Jesus’ name.

    Akinyele Godwin
    LLB Dept.
    University of London

  8. President Yar’Adua need not resign, he should only hand over to his vice and concentrate on his health. Even “if Jesus come”, there and then will he get the deserved honour because, whether we like it or not, he has served his country faithfully even in different capacities. So, those advising him to stick tenaciously to power are doing this humble man and his family the greatest deservice.

  9. Fellow nigerians,the fact dat urself and ourself are not sick is only a privilege and not a right.leave presiden Yaradua alone,let him carry on wit his work.the devil u know is better than the angel u dnt know.so,let him be.all u need do is pray for him and his tenure.kul’est&d’oneluv

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