Finally, I am going to be free from those phone calls wanting confirmation of the President's death. It's been so terrible that atimes I get calls as early as 3a.m.
In fact, i had concluded that somebody has just landed a big contract whose job is solely to create this rumour and put all of us on high jump. These rumour has sent churches praying daily for the man and Nigeria and same goes to our muslim brothers.
The man has said he is fit enough to rule Nigeria so those rumour mongers I hope you will let me have my beautiful sleep henceforth?
Yar’Adua: I’m Healthy Enough to Rule
…Opposes Carter’s mediation in N’Delta crisis
From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 05.20.2008
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has said the constant rumour about his state of health only goes to prove that he is “only human and not super human” as many are wont to believe, maintaining that he is fit enough to be president.
The President, in what appears to be his first anniversary interview, told the Financial Times of London that he feels elated at some of the rumours because it only proves that he, like any other Nigerian, has feelings and can take ill at any time.
Yar’Adua asked Nigerians to have confidence in their leader and not be gullible to all kinds of rumours.
He revealed that he was having as little as four hours sleep a day all in a bid to ensure the business of governing Nigeria is not jeopardised.
“When I hear these rumours, I always feel more elated, they confirm to me that I am not what those peddling the rumours want to believe I should be – I am an ordinary human being, I am not a super-human being, I don’t know one yet, but certainly I’m not one.
“I am a normal human being who can fall sick, who can recover, who can die, who can have feelings, who can be angered, who can laugh… Yes, and who is fit enough to be president, and who can have headaches, and can have fever.
“You see…all my medical records are in Germany, and I have been going to Germany since 1986, and I do my check-ups in Germany every year. In fact sometimes every six months, and this has been going on since 1986…Now the fact that I’m president today, doesn’t mean that when I feel there’s something that I think is wrong and needs to be checked I shouldn’t go to my doctors, where all my records for the past 22 years are there. It is the most practical thing to do…They know the background of everything about me medically,” he said.
Asked to assure Nigerians who are concerned about his health, Yar’Adua said: “They should be concerned about Nigeria itself, and that they should be rest assured [that] working, carrying out responsibilities of president, I am fit and able to do that, and I’m doing it, in fact, at times, even overdoing it. I hardly have more than five hours, four hours sleep a day, and…I believe the kind of work I do, it has to be because there is an inner energy propelling me to do it. Sometimes when I look back, I just wonder that I’m able to do what I’m doing, and I believe Nigerians should have confidence in their leaders, and they should not be gullible to all kinds of rumours. When I was going to the hospital, I had malaria, for four days, it never stopped me from doing anything. And then I took a new drug, which of course treated malaria, but then it gave me an allergic reaction. And we announced it.
“The day before, when I got the allergic reaction, it was a Sunday, that Sunday I spent over eight hours in my office in my house working. The following day, I signed the budget, and before I left I spent time in my office working, because there was nothing wrong with me except allergic reaction. Politics in Nigeria is very interesting, and we can see that people enjoy fabricating stories, falsehoods, getting their way to get them published... But gradually, once we continue to develop as a nation, and then respect for the rule of law begins to take firm root, even the attitude of people to be sincere and honest in what they do, will now continue to develop, that is why it is very critical, and very important, to establish respect for the rule of law. It’s not a small challenge, because it is the greatest challenge this nation faces.”
In a separate interview with AFP at the weekend, Yar’Adua said Nigeria would not invite any foreign mediators to help the country deal with the crisis in the Niger Delta.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had recently claimed to have approached ex-US President Jimmy Carter to ask him to mediate in the crisis.
It also said it was committed to holding a temporary ceasefire if the government accepted Carter as mediator.
A spokesperson for Carter had told THISDAY recently that the American statesman, who is very familiar with Nigeria, would not object to his invitation because he was concerned about the situation in Nigeria but the invitation must come from the Nigerian government.
But Yar’Adua has poured water on the suggestion, maintaining that the crisis is internal to Nigeria and should be handled by Nigerians.
“We are trying to avoid a situation in which the issue will be internationalised... We cannot do that because it is a Nigerian problem,” Yar'Adua told AFP.
Yar'Adua said: "The Niger Delta problem is a Nigerian problem. It is not a problem just for the people of Niger Delta. It is the national effort that will solve the problem.
“When you internationalise it and you bring, for instance, Jimmy Carter to mediate, then you are bringing a different perspective all together. Now you are saying it is the people of the Niger Delta versus other Nigerians.”
MEND had threatened that if the Federal Government failed to bring in Carter for negotiation, the violence in the region would continue.
"If as expected, the government fails to seize on this new opportunity for peace, our actions will continue to speak volumes beyond the Nigerian shores," the group had threatened.
Yar’Adua also spoke on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) which he said would be transformed from an “impenetrable bureaucratic giant” into a real privately run company when restructuring is completed next year.
After taking office a year ago, Yar'Adua decided to break up the 30-year-old NNPC into five separate new companies, but he has since been heading a committee whose proposals for a new structure are expected in a couple of weeks.
The presidential committee on oil and natural gas industry reforms was expected to submit a report to the government recommending changes to NNPC's juridical and legal framework, Yar'Adua said.
The reforms had been long expected and the parliamentary process would take time in view of the NNPC 's vital role in the nation's economy, he said.
He said the law might be changed before the end of next year, adding that new legislation would come into force and the restructured company would take off.
“The plan is to restructure or reposition the NNPC to become a truly national oil company that will go and compete and operate like other international oil companies with the capacity to use its assets, get credit from the market and become an international operator in the sector independent of government,” said Yar'Adua.
"It will act purely as a private sector company and this will relieve the national budget of joint venture cash calls," he added in a reference to funds that the state has had to inject every year into joint ventures with multinationals such as Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Total.
"This year, NNPC requires about $8.3 billion for its joint venture cash calls and out of this, $4.9 billion is coming from the national budget, and for the first time, we asked the NNPC to go to the capital market to raise the balance," he explained.
Meanwhile, Yar'Adua will make an official visit to France on June 12 during which he hopes to clinch an "energy partnership", he also told AFP.
"I have great expectations for this trip," said Yar'Adua. "Relations between France and Nigeria should be much closer."
Yar'Adua is travelling on French President Nicolas Sarkozy's invitation and hopes to seal "an energy partnership between France and Nigeria".
Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil exporter and, along with South Africa, is France's most important economic partner on the continent.
"I also want France to come and invest in railway network of this country," said Yar'Adua. "We are going to enter a new phase in our relations,” he added.