President returns to Nigeria, Deputy to stay in charge

The return of Nigerian President raised fresh questions over the leadership of Africa's most populous nation.

President returns to Nigeria, Deputy to stay in charge

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua arrived back in Abuja on Wednesday after three months in a Saudi Arabian hospital, raising fresh questions over the leadership of Africa's most populous nation.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan will continue to run affairs of state as Yar'Adua recuperates.

There was no immediate word on Yar'Adua's condition and it was unclear whether Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president, would remain as acting head of state.

Emmanuel Egbogah, presidential adviser on petroleum matters, confirmed Yar'Adua had arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday morning.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili had no immediate comment.

"I heard about it this morning and I am yet to be briefed," she told Reuters.

Two planes arrived at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport in Abuja in the early hours of Wednesday, one of them met by an ambulance which left under a heavy police escort shortly afterwards, a Reuters witness said.

Soldiers lined the main road from the airport to the city, a standard manoeuvre when the president is travelling.

"Deputy to stay in charge"

A Senate resolution passed on Feb. 9 stated that Jonathan would cease to be acting president once Yar'Adua stated in writing to the leaders of both houses of parliament that he has returned from "medical vacation".

Nigeria's Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will continue to run state affairs while President Umaru Yar'Adua recovers after three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, the presidency said on Wednesday.

"President Yar'Adua wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved," Yar'Adua's spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said in a statement.

"However, while the President completes his recuperation, Vice President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state," the statement said.

"The Senate resolution was very clear. It says the acting presidency lapses once the president sets foot on the shores of Nigeria," a government source close to Yar'Adua said.

"We now have a president and a vice president. The president can choose to delegate or carry out his functions directly."

Jonathan postponed a planned weekly cabinet meeting, instead summoning ministers to a special briefing.

Yar'Adua has been receiving treatment for a serious heart condition in hospital abroad.

The 58-year-old leader was taken ill last November and flown out to Jeddah's King Faisal clinic for treatment for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane covering and protecting the heart.

He has not been seen in public since then and there has been no official report on his health condition.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Şubat 2010, 16:52