Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

How ill is Nigeria’s president?

September 5, 2008

yaradua_portrait.jpgNigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia more than two weeks ago for the Islamic obligation of the lesser Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Yar’Adua, who is known to have a chronic kidney problem, has sought medical attention in Jeddah and has still not returned, raising fears about the state of his health. A medical source in Saudi Arabia told Reuters he had undergone an operation.

Government and presidency officials have been tight-lipped about the president’s condition and have not said exactly when he will be back. The opposition has demanded clarity on the president’s health, adding that his absence is having an adverse effect on the workings of government and that the official silence is fuelling speculation and uncertainty.

Should the head of state’s health be a private issue or is it a matter of public interest? Is his prolonged absence from Nigeria a cause for concern? As governor of Katsina state, Yar’Adua spent several months abroad for medical treatment without attracting much public attention, only to return, complete his term and win another one. Can he expect to do the same as leader of the nation?

What if the president leaves office early?


The President’s inexplicable absence has left Nigeria as a corpse strewn on the rocks.
Vultures at the seat of power have descended on the country and are tearing its assets apart silently whilst all the supposed checks and balances of the state remain complacent.

It’s an eerie conspiracy of the elite that involves the Press, the Military, Traditional and Spiritual leaders, the Politicians and even organised Labour.

The quiescence of the elite in this country confronting this situation of an inexplciable absence of the President does not bode well for the future and stability of Nigeria.
One wonders, does it mean that enlightened Nigerians are more comfortable with a country that has no Constituted Authority at the helm of affairs.


It is funny how the elections were conducted in the first place. Why allow a sick man to rule or directed over 200 Million people in a country like Nigeria. I hope he makes it home on time before the people he left behind decide steal more than the have stolen.
I hope this situation doesn’t give those barrack boys any idea of coup pilot, that will look really ugly, which will throw us back again.

Posted by James Ogbe | Report as abusive

That Nigeria ended up with Yar’Adua as the president would remain a mystery for years to come. The power that imposed him on the country is not unaware of his state of health, and for him to allowed himself to be imposed underlines the peak of hypocrisy and greediness. In a world where citizens would pay the supreme price to move their countries forward, to give hope to the children, our leaders only care about themselves and politics. Can these people die for their country? Who are they deceiving with due process and rule of law? Where is the rule of law when an adult knowingly keeps 140 million people hostage just for the lust for power? Nigeria wants to become one of the 20 biggest economies by 2020, but the president is terribly sick. When he is not in hospital abroad, he is sleeping for the better part of the days in Aso Rock. Is this what the country need now? Nigerians deserve the right to know the state of health of their leaders, in fact, when he was undergoing surgery, as we learnt, he ought to have transferred power to his deputy. That is my understanding of due process and rule of law. But is it not Nigeria? Anything can happen here. In this part of the world, you can criticise from today till the kingdom comes, but leaders in the school of Obasanjo have been laughing and will still have the last laugh. It is a tragedy.


It is true that the Nigerian President has been sick lately. I think it is human for people to fall sick even when they are presidents, kings and queens. What is unacceptable is the childish denials being issued from the seat of power.
I am praying for his quick recovery because this is the only president that seems humane and, yes, fraile like us. I hope that the Vice president, Jonathan Goodluck and Ambassador Kingibe can rise up to the situation and provide the guidance required for these times. What must not happen is that civil servants and enemies of Nigeria must not see his sickness as an opportunity to rape the treasury.
God bless Nigeria

Posted by Ngozi Asoya | Report as abusive

I think Yaradua is doing well now but, whatever is his condition of health it should not be an opportunity for anyone to think upside down. I mean we had the same case in Kaduna state under makarfi, when many thought he will not be opportuned to complete even his first term. But he even did second term and eventually became a senetor all afterwards.
But do not forget that his then healthy deputy passed away in the process, now Makarfi again is the chairman senate comittee on finance. GOODLUCK Mr. Jonasan

Posted by Aminu H. Sanusi | Report as abusive

My thoughts are that President Yaradua’s sickness has made him lose focus on the issues at hand. There is no way he can run the affairs of the nation when he is always out of the country on medical grounds. Rumours are that the nation is being run by the first lady. After more than one year in office, the President
is yet to achieve any of the post election promises.Worse still, the economy has taken an awful downturn, investors in the capital market have lost billions of Naira in the past few months, the Niger Delta is worse secure than ever, inlation figures are higher than the Obj days, the power sector is still as unreliable as ever. The list is way too long. If he indeed loves this country, he should step aside and let less health challenged persons order the direction of our potentially great nation, Nigeria.

Posted by Uchechi | Report as abusive

Very sick man indeed, not the sort of leader Nigeria needs at this moment in time. Nigeria needs a strong and very disciplined leader like General Buhari, a leader who can instill discipline into the country and end corruption due to his zero tolerance qualities. With all Yara Dua’s good qualities, he still lacks that strong leader traits and he is also too diplomatic for Nigeria.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

Zambia just lost a president, who came into office a sick man. Nigeria must put measures in place just in case he dies.


so he is just aoerson like any other nigerian if he dies he ll be buried and the country ll continue ……
so i dont see any big deal in dis

Posted by yax | Report as abusive

No one wishes to be sick, it is the wish of every human being to be health, but sickness can be destructive, however
it is also good for someone to step aside if she or he as health problem making it not to run the country sufficiently, but so long as the country is running well no problem be it let him continue he is there democratically anyway.


I agree with eliud …and same thing applies to other contributors. I think we need to support the current Presidency so as to enable the country to run smoothly..


President yaradua has come to stay for a while,his health has been his problem and ours not minding it state.what we should be aiming now is how to produce another person like him or one who is better.

Posted by Godsglory | Report as abusive

How Nigeria ended up with a president like Yaraduwa is still a misery to me. For how long do we have to let Corrupt people like Babangida dictate who our next leader is going to be? Why don’t we give people that are ready for change a chance? Since Yaraduwa stepped to office, I have not heard of or seen anything he has contributed to the well being of Nigeria. The idiots that we keep electing are already rich but just want to keep getting richer.
For those of you that stand on line to vote, You are just wasting your time. Your vote does not count. Right now, the top officials already know who the next president is going to be even before Yaraduwa’s time is up. I am Hausa and I believe that it is time for the Igbo people to get in power. Let’s see something different. All most Hausa politicians think of when they get in positions is how to embezzle money. As for Yaraduwa’s health condition, it is something that should have been disclosed to the public before he became the president. Anyway, sick or not, He makes no difference.

Posted by Meeh | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see