Nigeria leader to go on 8-week medical trip-paper
Nigeria's presidency declined to comment on a newspaper report on Friday that President Umaru Yar'Adua would spend eight weeks abroad having medical checks from Jan. 26.
The Business Day newspaper quoted a special assistant in the presidency as saying that aides and ministers were trying to get approval for government business ahead of Yar'Adua's departure in 10 days' time.
"I'm not going to react to that story, whether it is true or false, papers can go ahead speculating on the health of Mr President. I won't talk about it," presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said.
Yar'Adua, known to have a chronic kidney problem, travelled to Saudi Arabia for more than two weeks last August.
Official statements said he was on a Muslim pilgrimage but senior Nigerian officials and a medical source in Saudi Arabia said he had received treatment in Jeddah during the trip, raising fears about his fitness.
Under the Nigerian presidential system, ministers must obtain approval for certain expenditures and projects, and a prolonged absence could stall government business as the Vice-President does not automatically have executive powers.
He had to be rushed to hospital in Germany while he was campaigning just weeks ahead of the April 2007 presidential election.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo called him by phone from the stage at a ruling party campaign rally so he could confirm he was still alive after rumours spread to the contrary.
Reuters Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2009, 15:34