How Nigeria President Yar'Adua made his stealth return

Nigeria President Umaru Yar'Adua flew into the capital in the dead of night Wednesday after undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for nearly three months.

Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters/File
A poster showing an image of Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua is pasted on a wall along a road in Katsina city, January 28. Yar'Adua returned to Nigeria during the early hours of Wednesday morning after nearly three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

President Umaru Yar'Adua returned to Nigeria in the wee hours of Wednesday morning after nearly three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Two unmarked jets landed in the dead of night at the sealed-off international airport in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to be met by a fleet of SUVs and an ambulance.

Within minutes, that 23-vehicle convoy was speeding along the deserted highway – with armed officers stationed every 300 meters – toward Abuja and, eventually, to the presidential palace at Aso Rock.

Yar'Adua is not yet healthy enough to lead the country, which will be run in the interim by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. (READ STORY on how that is sparking unease.)

But how is Yar'Adua's health?

“I have not seen [Yar'Adua], so I cannot say what his condition is,” says Mary Ikoku, special assistant to the minister of information. “But he arrived in what I can call an air ambulance, and he was taken to Aso Rock in an ambulance, so I don’t imagine that he is in the best of health.”

There have been persistent reports of deliveries of state-of-the-art medical equipment to Yar’Adua’s quarters to care for his heart ailment. Sources in Nigeria said that it was understood that he was taken to a "clinic" within the presidential complex.

Ms. Ikoku refused to comment on that.

But she added that it was "unlikely" that Yar’Adua would attend a hastily convened meeting due for Wednesday afternoon to be chaired by Mr. Jonathan and attended by the country’s cabinet.

Yar’Adua’s spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said in a statement that Jonathan would continue to run state affairs while the president recuperates.

"President Yar’Adua wishes to reassure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved," Mr Adeniyi said in the statement.

---- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.