A President And His Health Problems


President Umaru Yar’Adua, who is currently in a Saudi hospital, may have decided to stay on in power, at least till 2011. Indeed, it was gathered that the president’s condition in the hospital is improving as there are indications that he was still fit to run the country. Cable News Network (CNN) on Friday quoted an unamed presidency official as saying that the president is not thinking of resigning despite his state of health.

The president was reported to be suffering from medical condition called acute pericarditis which is an ailment of the heart. But CNN quoted the official in its website on Friday that President Yar’Adua is not contemplating quoting for now. According to what CNN called a ‘spokesman’ in the president’s office, “President Umaru Yar’Adua and Vice President (Goodluck Jonathan) will continue in their respective roles and the latter will not assume presidential duties,” — the official said.

It is, however, unclear how soon Yar’Adua will return from his medical trip. There has been a lot of comments on what the constitution says on what happened when the president is not around. Below is a summary of what sections 144, 145 And 146 Of The Constitution Says About What Happens When The President Is Absent From Office.

If The President Sends A Written Declaration To The Heads Of The Senate And House Of Representatives That He Is Going On Leave Or Otherwise Unable To Carry Out His Official Functions, Those Duties Are Carried Out By The Vice President As Acting President Until He Sends A Written Declaration To The Contrary.

The President Ceases To Hold Office If A Two-thirds Majority Of The Executive Council Of The Federation Passes A Resolution Declaring He Is Incapable Of Discharging His Functions And That Declaration Is Verified By A Medical Panel Of Five Doctors Including His Personal Physician.

The Medical Panel Must Certify In A Report To The Heads Of The Senate And House Of Representatives That, In Its Opinion, The President Is “Suffering From Such Infirmity Of Body Or Mind As Renders Him Permanently Incapable Of Discharging The Functions Of His Office”.

Discharge Of Function Of President

The vice-president holds the office of president if the position becomes vacant for reasons including death, resignation or permanent incapacity. If the office of vice-president is also vacant at the time, the president of the Senate holds the office of president for not more than three months, during which there is an election of a new president who completes the unexpired presidential term.

Source: articles 144, 145 and 146 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that President Umaru Yar’Adua is healthy and urged Nigerians to disregard any rumour on the contrary.

Receiving muslims who came to the Presidential Villa to pay him Sallah homage, the vice president said he was in constant touch with Yar’Adua and that the president wished Nigerians well.

There were very strong rumours on Wednesday that the President had died from his sickness.

Said the vice president, “we spoke yesterday and even this morning. After this time I will even speak with him. He asked me to convey his personal greetings to all Nigerians.

“There are some rumours about some stories, but let me assure Nigerians that the president is okay. We spoke before he left this country and we have been speaking.

“So, discountenance any form of false rumours being spread by mischievous characters in this country. I assure you that Mr. President is healthy.

“I express Mr. President’s appreciation and my own appreciation to the Muslim Community for their consistent prayers. May Almighty Allah continue to bless this country to see that we succeed as a nation and Government in all our endeavours.

“Even as individuals from childhood to adulthood you will require sacrifices. We call on all Nigerians, especially those of us in government, we have to reflect on this and to shun temptations just like Abraham and his men did. This special ceremony reflects what happened in those days, the vice president stated.

Nigerians were not really jolted on Monday night when information filtered out of the Presidential Villa in Abuja that President Umaru Yar’Adua will be jetting out of the country once again to attend this year’s Hajj and see his doctors as well.

The current visit to Saudi Arabia would be his third visit to the country on medical ground. The previous ones were shrouded in secrecy. The President is known to suffer from kidney- related situation, for which he had earlier received medical attention in Germany when he served as governor of Katsina State.

It was also not the first time the president’s health became an issue. In fact, in the last two and a half years, Nigerians have spent longer periods pondering over the state of health of their president than they had ever done for any of his predecessors.

The period of mounting anxiety started before Yar’Adua took office in May 2007. Shortly after his emergence as the presidential hopeful in the 2007 election, news came into the open that the man did not enjoy sound health, which many believe could be a source of hindrance for him as president.

But the then President Olusegun Obasanjo stood stoutly behind his anointed candidate. He was doing much of the talking, as Yar’Adua chose to play the role of a diplomat who should seen but not heard.

When the former governor of Katsina State collapsed midway into the presidential campaign and had to be flown abroad, Obasanjo continued the programme and at the podium in Ado Ekiti, the former President had to put a call through to Yar’Adua on his sick bed to enable him speak to Nigerians and affirm that he was still alive.

At that point, Nigerians were no longer in the dark as to the health condition of the then president-to-be. Apart from the opposition Action Congress (AC), which asked the government to “come clean” on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health, many Nigerians have kept mute on the matter. The AC, in a statement on Tuesday asked Nigerians to “pray fervently for the president’s good health so he can face the tough task of governance.”

Maxi Okwu of CNPP was quoted in the media as saying: “The president of Nigeria is a public figure and all that concerns him should be in the public domain. But since Umaru Yar’Adua became president they shrouded his obvious health problems in mystery.”They should seriously advise him against going for second term in the interest of himself and in the best interest of Nigeria,” Okwu stated.

One of the first casualties of the president’s state of health is the yearly budgets which have never been well implemented since 2007. Budget implementation has always hovered around 35 and 40 per cent, with undue bickering made to chop into the 2008 and 2009 financial years.

While the National Assembly passed the 2008 budget early in February of that year, the President returned the budget and insisted that some projects that were not contemplated by the executive had been injected into the document by the legislature.

His officials, including the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, insisted that the matter should be taken to court to decide whether the legislature has the power to initiate projects and include the same in the national budget.

Before reason could prevail, the year was almost half way. Though the president signed the budget on April 15, he gave the condition that some contentious areas would have to be amended before implementation was assured.

The said amendments did not get to the National Assembly till late July, when the lawmakers were already going on their annual recess. It meant that the final copy of budget 2008 was not ready until October of that year.

Everyone had thought that the experience of 2008 will not be repeated in 2009 and the lawmakers themselves attempted to extract commitments from the president that it was serious about the budget.

To convince the lawmakers, the presidency sacked two of the ministers who were believed to have orchestrated the 2008 budget crisis.

However, there was no respite for the nation as the 2009 budget went into the history books as the least implemented. In the average, the budget implementation stood at 35 percent. In some areas, the nation recorded 15 percent implementation. Even most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) projects that were designated as constituency projects remained unimplemented, prompting one lawmaker to declare recently that Nigeria cannot meet the MDGs target of 2015.

In the National Assembly for instance, lawmakers have now raised a supposedly non-issue of seniority or supremacy between the two chambers of the Assembly to a national question.

Before then, the Presidency had looked the other way when members of the House of Representatives stalled the retreat of the Joint Committee on Constitution Review (JCCR) when they demanded parity with the senators and insisted that the Deputy Speaker be named a co-chairman of the JCCR.

Because his party controls two thirds majority of the two chambers, a quick move by the president would have resolved the logjam that is now threatening the nation’s lawmaking process.

The invisible nature of the president has also affected Nigeria’s image within the international community. Only recently, Nigeria lost the bid to secure a top post at the African Union Commission as a result of what is considered ‘failure of diplomacy.’

A diplomat who recently spoke of the dilemma of his colleagues said Nigeria’s position is no longer clear on Zimbabwe, the Congo and Darfur.

Efforts of the foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, to define diplomacy his own way are also said to be landing Nigeria on the wrong side of international politics. Sources said that the president yielded too much ground to the man who does not even have basic backgroung in diplomacy.

IF there is any reason for Nigerians to be worried about the health condition of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’Adua, which many observers have described as deteriorating, it is not only because of the frequency of his trips out of the country for medical reasons, but more importantly because of the exalted position he occupies as the president of the country which places him on a national and international spotlight.

It cannot be said exactly when the president’s health began to draw concerns from the Nigerian populace, but what is obvious is that the first indication that his health was degenerating was at a point in the build-up to the 2007 presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was rumoured to have slumped during a PDP campaign rally, prompting his being flown out of the country for medical check-up in Germany from where rumours began to emanate that he was dead.

The incessant medical trips embarked on by the president to Saudi Arabia subsequently have continued to unnerve many concerned citizens of the country.




His Medical Trips In Office

The President has made no fewer than four trips outside the country since assuming office.

April 14, 2008

It took nearly a year after the March 6, 2007 episode before the president would embark on another medical trip to Germany for a check-up. The president was flown to a German hospital in Weisbaden after hurriedly signing the 2008 Appropriation Bill. Spokesman for the president, Mr Segun Adeniyi, in a statement, said President Yar’Adua would consult his doctors after developing “an indisposition believed to be allergic reaction.”

August 28, 2008

The tension generated by the president’s trip to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment was more intense than before. He spent two weeks during which activities in the Aso Rock ground to a halt. The president, who seemingly had adopted new strategies for leaving the country for medical treatment, changed the destination of his trip from Germany to the oil rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and had the purpose of his journey shrouded in the lesser hajj exercise. When questions were asked by agitated Nigerians over the absence of the nation’s foremost citizen, his aides quickly provided an answer claiming that he had gone to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj (umrah). A delegation of PDP officers led by the National Chairman of the party, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, went to Saudi Arabia to ascertain the true state of his health.

August 14, 2009

On this occasion, the president travelled to Saudi Arabia for a scheduled medical check-up. Adeniyi, who announced the development in a statement on August 10 2009 explained that the president would also perform the lesser hajj. This trip drew little or no anxiety from Nigerians who were beginning to get a feeling of déjà vu as a result of the president’s regular trips and partly due to how details of his trip was handled this time around. Adeniyi who announced the development in a statement before the trip explained that the President would also perform the lesser hajj.

November 23, 2009

Yar’Adua’s current medical trip to Saudi Arabia took a frightening dimension the following day when news filtered into the country that he had been admitted to a hospital in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah, as disclosed to the German Press Agency, dpa, by a doctor there. His trip had earlier on Monday night been announced in a statement made by Adeniyi. The statement read: “President Umaru Yar’Adua will leave Abuja today (Monday) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While there, the President will call on his personal physician in Jeddah for follow-up medical checks”.

However, the presidential spokesmen neither mentioned the hospital where Yar’Adua would be attended to nor stated the duration of his stay in the kingdom. The latest trip came just five days after the Senate and the House of Representatives had flexed muscles over which chamber would host the presentation of the budget before a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday.

The National Assembly also is not batting an eyelid on the matter. The Senate spokesperson, Senator Ayogu Eze, when broached with the matter by Senate reporters in Abuja, explained that there was nothing unusual about the President’s frequent overseas trips for medical checks. He said in part: “The health of the President is a constitutional issue and it is only a health board of enquiry that can determine the fitness or otherwise of the president; the composition of that board is very clear,”he said.

As apprehension gets rife over the health of the nation’s number one citizen, the questions on the lips of many are- for how long will the president continue to travel out of the country to seek medical care?

Sallah Tragedy: Bus Driver Kills Mother, Child

By Tayo Ogunleye and Laolu Afolabi – 28.11.2009

A woman and her child were killed on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State, after they were knocked down alongside four other pedestrians by a commercial bus at Agbaje area of Orita-Challenge.

Eyewitnesses told Saturday Tribune that the bus, a 14-seater Mitsubishi model with registration number: LAGOS EX 529 KTU, had swerved off the road and knocked the people into a ditch.

Mrs. Ruth Ayodele and her son, Oluwadamilare, who was said to be less than two years old, reportedly died instantly, while the others who were injured were taken to different hospitals in the area for treatment.

An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, told Saturday Tribune that the driver ran away immediately after the incident occurred, leaving his passengers behind.

The passengers were said to have hurriedly alighted from the bus and also run away for fear of being attacked by sympathisers who were gathering at the scene of the accident.

Men from the police station in the area later attempted to remove the vehicle from the scene of the accident, but were prevented from doing so by sympathisers.

However, the policemen, who were angry at the development, came back reinforced and began shooting sporadically to scare off the adamant sympathisers, who insisted that the police would not remove the vehicle.

As a result of the development, many people were injured.

Eyewitnesses told Saturday Tribune that those who were injured were also receiving treatment at different undisclosed hospitals.

An unconfirmed report indicated that the vehicle in question was known to be used by the police for patrol, a reason the policemen wanted to save it from being damaged.

Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ms. Bisi Okuwobi, confirmed the incident.

However, efforts to get the divisional police officer in Challenge proved abortive as calls made to his phone did not go.

Budget Impasse: How Presidency Instigated Crisis Between Senate, Reps

Donald Ojogo, South South Bureau Chief – 28.11.2009

Fresh facts emerged on Friday as regards why President Umaru Yar’dua was unable to present the 2010 Appropriation Bill at a joint session of the National Assembly last week.

Saturday Tribune can reveal authoritatively that the impasse leading to the last-minute cancellation of the joint session was actually precipitated by the presidency.

The motive, according to an impeccable source in the National Assembly, was to save the president from the rigour of standing to address the joint session. This is contrary to the widely held belief that the disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives on the choice of venue for the presentation had anything to do with crisis of precedence between the two chambers of the parliament.

Perceived disagreement between the two chambers was said to have stalled the joint session from holding and this culminated in the forwarding of the budget speech and the Appropriation Bill to them through separate letters through the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Abba Aji.

This was the first time a Nigerian president would resort to this. But the latest revelation, coming from a senator from a South-South state, illustrated how strategists in the presidency incited some influential members in the lower chamber against the Senate.

The senator, who pleaded not to be named, had been called by Saturday Tribune on Friday for clarifications on the state of health of the president, which had generated anxiety in the country.

He said: “Mr. President is human, as he has always said on his state of health. All these rumours concerning him are unfortunate, or do Nigerians wish that such rumours come to pass? I believe only God knows when a man would die; no human being, not even a physician can correctly say that.


“Maybe if you call in the next three hours, I will be able to give you a clearer picture because I’m yet to see the Senate president for further details on the matter. As far as I know, there is no cause for worry, anybody can fall sick except that some of the president’s aides do not help matters at some points.

“You won’t believe that some persons who claim to love the president more than others held a meeting with some members of the House of Representatives to incite them against us; that they should insist on having the joint session in their chambers instead of the Senate chambers as it has always been. And funny enough, they claimed that the president was more disposed to having the joint session in the lower chamber, which was a blatant lie.

“It is unfortunate that people will play politics with life as if they can create one. What stops them from saying, ‘Look, the president is indisposed. He would rather send in the bill through his adviser?’

“There is nowhere in the constitution that says the president must be physically present to submit an appropriation bill. It was later that some of us learnt that a few days to that Thursday or so, the president had needed some medical attention and as such, he was not likely to have the strength to stand and address us.

“But rather than opening up, these persons played smart by generating crisis between the two chambers and throwing the nation into an arena of perceived impasse.”



What You Need To Know About King Faisal Hospital – Where Yar’Adua Is On Admission

Our Reporter- 28.11.2009

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH and RC), Jeddah, began in March 2000, due to the generous gift of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz. It was his wish to provide outstanding medical services to the people of the Western region. This luxurious tertiary care hospital is located in the prestigious Al-Rawdah district, only a few minutes away from the King Abdulaziz International Airport. It occupies 80,000 square metres with a capacity of 460 beds.

The protocol programme aims to provide outpatient care for distinguished guests. Selected nursing and paramedical personnel are staffed on a full time basis. It has a tracking system for pharmacy, phlebotomy, X-ray and other services.

Patient Relations Programme

KFSH and RC adopted the new concept of unifying all the services that a patient may need under the umbrella of the patient relations programme. This programme consists of social service, patient relations, admission and pre-registration, eligibility, medical coordination, medical records and home health care.

Community Relations Programme

KFSH and RC unified the three departments of media affairs and health education, public relations and the hospital club under one department to ensure the best service to the public. The programme aims to promote the services of KFSH and RC-Jeddah as the leading health services provider in the region, in order to benefit the community and raise health awareness.

The telemedicine programme was established to support both national and international medical needs. Telemedicine services are integrated into routine practice where radiology and pathology images can be transmitted to other medical facilities. Services provided by telemedicine include— videoconferencing, tele-pathology, tele-radiology, interactive distance learning programme, and patient education seminars.

In order to provide the best patient care information support, the computer and hospital information centre has established a hospital wide network infrastructure. This network is state of the art technology. The hospital recently signed a contract with Cerner Arabia for a clinical management information system. The hospital is in the implementation stage of integrating its management information systems.

Total Quality Management

KFSH and RC-Jeddah has adopted a customer driven quality management philosophy. The quality management department coordinates the efforts of quality and performance improvement in the organisation. In a further effort to meet international health care quality standards, the hospital has committed to the accreditation process through the Joint Commission for International Accreditation (JCIA). Quality management is coordinating the efforts of KFSH to meet the 11 standards of care that the JCIA established for meeting quality health care.

HOBA was established to encourage KFSH and RC staff to share their knowledge and skill with colleagues in all the regions of the kingdom, thereby ensuring that all patients distant from KFSH and RC still have access to more convenient and cost effective health care. HOBA also designs programs to train health professionals, and addresses health related issues.

Technical and Research Affairs

KFSH and RC is an equal partner in the center of innovative minimally invasive therapies (CIMIT). The CIMIT partnership includes four other world class centres of health care excellence, and develops the latest technology and methodologies to reduce the physical trauma of surgery.

KFSH and RC is entitled to have its faculty/ staff participate in single or multi disciplinary research projects. KFSH and RC also has agreements for cooperation with elite universities and medical centres like John Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, Baylor University, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Academic and training affairs manage the residency and internship programmes. To enhance and support specialisation, they coordinate and organise the training programmes between KFSH and RC and the other partners in the community, such as the faculties of universities and governmental hospitals. Academic and training affairs also organises local and international seminars and symposiums.

Medical Services

The Department of Medicine includes internal medicine, nephrology and renal transplant units, a pulmonary section, an endoscopy unit, diabetes, gastro-enterology and infectious disease.

Outpatient clinics receive 1200 patients daily in the various clinics, which include general surgery, medicine, pediatrics, OB and gyne, neurosciences and oncology.

The oncology department includes adult and pediatric hematology, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and oncology.

The neurosciences department provides world class clinical care to patients to diagnose and treat neurological disorders, such as sleeping disorders. The department includes neurosurgery, clinical neuropsychology, psychiatry and clinical pathology. In addition, due to the spread of epilepsy in the kingdom, the neurosciences department initiated a complete treatment programme for epilepsy that is accredited by the International Office of Epilepsy, which is linked to the World Health Organisation.

KFSH and RC-Jeddah is an important referral centre for high risk adult and congenital heart procedures, such as atherectomy, stinting of coronary angioplasty, balloon dilations of stenosed valves and coarctation of the Aorta. Surgery includes ENT, ophthalmology, urology, general surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and the day surgery unit.

Pediatrics provides specialised medical services in addition to general pediatrics. Pediatric specialties include: gastroenterology, nephrology, renal transplant, rheumatology, metabolic diseases, allergy and immunity diseases.

The ophthalmology section has two well equipped clinics. It contains a contact lens fitting room, A and B ultrasound, argon laser and yag laser, fundus photography camera, visual field, and ximer laser suites. It also encompasses an operating room for minor cases, and a fully equipped operating room for major operations.

Dentistry provides comprehensive dental services. It offers high quality care, encompassing pedodentices, crainofacial surgery, prosthodentist, orthodontics, dental laboratory and recovery room.

The Department of Pathology and the medical laboratory offer an extensive range of advanced diagnostic clinical services, using the latest technology. It is pursuing accreditation by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).

Radiology includes the following modalities: MRI and CT; nuclear medicine; ultrasound, angiography, fluoroscopy, and general radiology. radiology also performs diagnostic, therapeutic and invasive procedures, including ultra sound and CT guided biopsy.

The intensive care unit is a state of the art facility. It is the largest ICU department in the kingdom. It occupies the second floor with a capacity of 54 beds, including 16 beds for surgical and medical, eight cardiac surgery beds, eight ICU beds, eight coronary care beds, and 14 beds for the neonatal Intensive care unit.

The Department of Emergency Services consists of 22 beds, 10 patient examination rooms, two critical rooms, and four pediatric beds. It also has a plaster room, ENT, ophthalmology, OB and Gyne, and operating room for minor procedures and a VIP section.

There are more than 800 nurses from over 15 countries in the nursing department at KFSH and RC-Jeddah. The nursing department is a mosaic of excellence, education and experience blended with culture, competence and caring. Most of the nurse in the outpatient department are bilingual, to ensure effective communication with patients. The nursing department embraces total quality management philosophy in all services. One of the objectives of the nursing department is to develop a strong continuous education programme for all nurses. Collaboration with community partners, such as King Abdul Azizz University is a major focus of Nursing Affairs.