Africa News blog
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The puns were too much for the Nigerian press (and me) to resist in headlines after Goodluck Jonathan quietly managed to get himself into the top job without even appearing to want a position left open for more than two months by the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Suddenly it seems that everyone and his brother is congratulating themselves on having found such a wise way out of the impasse that derived from the ambitions of those in the various camps and the ambiguity of a constitution that had never foreseen such an eventuality.
Even Justice Minister and Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa, among those who most vociferously defended the idea that no change of power was needed, gave full support to Jonathan and pointed out that the de facto transfer happened two months ago anyway.
Politicians in few countries may be able to sustain a crisis for quite so long, cause quite as much concern – among foreigners if not among their own people – and then find a way to resolve it more easily than any might have thought possible.
The foiled Christmas Day bomb attack on a U.S. airliner has put further pressure on ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua to either confirm he is fit to govern or hand over to his deputy.
Yar’Adua has been in Saudi Arabia for more than a month being treated for a heart condition and uncertainty over how a succession would be handled if his health worsens risks plunging Africa’s most populous nation into political crisis.
Nigerian 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.