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Yar’Adua: back, but not in action
If there’s one thing I’m sure of this morning it’s this: the reason I was never a better reporter in Nigeria is because I slept "normal" hours. In Nigeria, big news always happens after midnight. That’s what happened last night. At around 2 a.m., the ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua returned from a months-long absence in ...
If there’s one thing I’m sure of this morning it’s this: the reason I was never a better reporter in Nigeria is because I slept "normal" hours. In Nigeria, big news always happens after midnight.
That’s what happened last night. At around 2 a.m., the ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua returned from a months-long absence in Saudi Arabia, where he had been recieving medical treatment. He arrived to the apparent surprise of the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Just when this country’s people finally thought they could move on — they had a new acting president and the legal fudging they needed for him to rule — now we’re back at square one. Among the countless rumors circulating today in Nigeria, the biggest is certainly that Yar’Adua’s wife Turai Yar’Adua, one of the most powerful women (and people) in the country these days, came back so that she can start (some would say resume…) running the show. She is scheduled to meet "Vice President" Jonathan later today, as the presidential spokesman called him (not "acting president.") Already, the sacked ministers that Jonathan kicked out are back (most notably, the Attorney General), and others deemed disloyal — notably Information Minister Dora Akunyili, who called for Jonathan to take the reins — are slated by the removed. If the rumor mill is to be believed (and in Nigeria, far stranger rumors than this have turned out true…) it looks like a wholesale power re-grab from Yar’Adua’s camp.
(By far the best story proving this point, true or not is this detail: "A security detail is guarding the president’s chair to ensure Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan does not sit on the chair.)
Forgive the pun, but this is all very back luck for Goodluck. He had a real chance to do some good, as my former colleagues at The Economist pointed out this week. Now he just has a lot of nasty power-grabbing politics to sort through. If the past is any guide, he may not be up to that brutal, grueling task.