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Yar'adua to go on 8-week Medical Trip-Reuters

January 15, 2009
Image removed.ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's presidency declined to comment on a newspaper report on Friday that President Umaru Yar'Adua would spend eight weeks abroad having medical checks from January 26.The Business Day newspaper quoted a special assistant in the presidency as saying that aides and ministers were trying to get approval for government business ahead of Yar'Adua's departure in 10 days' time.

"I'm not going to react to that story, whether it is true or false, papers can go ahead speculating on the health of Mr President. I won't talk about it," presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said.

Yar'Adua, known to have a chronic kidney problem, travelled to Saudi Arabia for more than two weeks last August.

Official statements said he was on a Muslim pilgrimage but senior Nigerian officials and a medical source in Saudi Arabia said he had received treatment in Jeddah during the trip, raising fears about his fitness.

Under the Nigerian presidential system, ministers must obtain approval for certain expenditures and projects, and a prolonged absence could stall government business as the Vice-President does not automatically have executive powers.

Yar'Adua's health was long a source of concern even before he assumed the presidency.

He had to be rushed to hospital in Germany while he was campaigning just weeks ahead of the April 2007 presidential election.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo called him by phone from the stage at a ruling party campaign rally so he could confirm he was still alive after rumours spread to the contrary.
Our Initial Story:

Yar’adua’s medical trip nears
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
 Plans by Umaru Yar'adua to travel abroad for a prolonged medical treatment are in high gear, according to our sources in Aso Rock. SaharaReporters had earlier disclosed that the long-planned trip was put on hold until Yar’adua secured a favorable judgment from the Supreme Court. Last week, a 4-3 majority of the court’s panel of justices upheld Yar’adua’s “election,” a verdict that has drawn criticism from the political and legal establishments.

“The president and his inner circle are now considering an opportune time to take his inevitable medical leave,” said one source. He disclosed that the trip may last several weeks, may become longer, depending on the diagnosis and the course of treatment decided by his foreign doctors. The source added that Germany is the most likely destination for the latest round of treatment for Yar'adua. The German Vice Chairman of Julius Berger, Hans Wittman, recently visited Yar'adua on October 29 2008 in the company of top officials of Lufthansa, the German airline. Yar’adua’s prospective treatment was reportedly discussed at the meeting, said our source.

The Presidency sources told SaharaReporters that Yar'adua handlers are looking for a “dignified exit” for him without raising the public profile of the intended trip. A medical source in Nigeria told our reporter that, despite spending close to N10 billion to import medical equipment to the Aso Rock Clinic, Yar'adua’s condition still requires critical attention in Germany or some other foreign country.

“Yar’adua’s dialyses have increased sometimes to twice daily in frequency,” said a medical source. He added that a progressive loss of weight that has left Yar'adua looking gaunt, tired and emaciated has led to his desire to seek medical care abroad as soon as possible. The source described Yar'adua's health as “really bad.” He noted that, during the opening of the new Court of Appeal building, Yar’adua appeared exhausted from the strain of walking a few yards at a time from one part of the complex to another.

The last time Yar'adua went for medical treatment, he went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia under the pretext that he was going for lesser hajj. However, SaharaReporters revealed before hand that the excuse was a cover-up for a series of medical tests and treatments. Yar’adua was stuck in his Saudi hospital for more than two weeks. In fact he did not return until a number of People's Democratic Party (PDP) officials traveled to Saudi Arabia to warn that his hold on power could be threatened by any further absence.

Another source in Aso Rock told our correspondent that, unlike in the past, Yar'adua would be compelled to hand over to his deputy, Jonathan Goodluck, before departing.

Meanwhile, following a report by SaharaReporters revealing that Goodluck’s information was missing from the Presidency’s main website (, Yar'dua reportedly instructed his aides to update his deputy’s profile and to remove the logo of the office of the "First Lady" from the website.

The website now reflects the bio, profile and activities of Jonathan.


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