Nigerian president returns from Saudi hospital

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

There was no immediate word on his condition but a presidential adviser said it was unlikely he would immediately resume office, suggesting Vice President Goodluck Jonathan would remain acting head of state for now.

Yar'Adua's absence brought sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy to the brink of constitutional crisis and threatened to paralyse the business of government, until Jonathan was sworn in as acting leader two weeks ago.

Jonathan has since adopted the mantle of leadership, reshuffling ministers, pledging to tackle chronic power shortages and forge ahead with an amnesty in the oil-producing Niger Delta. Some politicians have said he could win support to run for president in elections due by April next year.

"The news of the president's arrival is reportedly causing a lot of anxiety in Abuja especially among politicians, many of whom had prepared themselves for a post Yar'Adua era," Nigerian newspaper NEXT said on its website.

Emmanuel Egbogah, presidential adviser on petroleum matters, confirmed Yar'Adua had arrived in Nigeria this morning but told Reuters it was "doubtful" he would immediately take over executive powers.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili had no immediate comment.

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

Analysts say those close to Yar'Adua were growing concerned about Jonathan's assertive behaviour after the Senate and House of Representatives recognised him as acting head of state two weeks ago and wanted to bring the president back quickly.

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".

But Nigeria's politicians have been flexible in their reading of the constitution during the crisis.

"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."

The cabinet, which has twice passed resolutions that there are no grounds to declare Yar'Adua unfit to govern, is due to hold a weekly meeting later on Wednesday.

Splits have emerged between Yar'Adua loyalists and ministers who feel he should step aside. Any new pronouncements after Wednesday's meeting could be key to his political fate.

Many Nigerians remained sceptical he would resume office.

"Seeing is believing. He's our president, he should appear on television. Let's wait and see," said civil servant Abolaji Habib, 49, in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city.

Yar'Adua arrival was shrouded in secrecy.

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.

Jonathan could continue as acting president until such time as Yar'Adua's health recovers and he is fit enough to resume office. Should his condition be so serious as to render him incapable of holding office, he could step aside, allowing Jonathan to be sworn in as leader and name a new deputy.

Yar'Adua has been receiving treatment for pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart that can restrict normal beating, and also is known to suffer from a chronic kidney condition.

Neither the presidency, the ruling party nor the cabinet have given any details on his health since shortly after he left, fuelling speculation about the gravity of his condition.

"The state of his health is very important for the unfolding political dynamics ... It's almost impossible to keep such information secret now he is back," said Kayode Akindele, a director at Lagos-based Greengate Strategic Partners.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Environment
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells