Yar’Adua has been in Saudi Arabia since November 2009, where he is receiving medical treatment for a heart condition. His absence has left the country without a formal leader, and has led to a breakdown in a government cease-fire with fighters in the oil-producing Niger Delta.
In addition, there has been renewed sectarian violence in the central city of Jos, where almost 400 people were killed in two days of clashes between Muslims and Christians in November 2008.
Questions remain over the legality of Jonathan’s appointment as temporary leader, a measure approved by both houses of the assembly. According to Nigeria’s constitution, Yar’Adua must make a written declaration that he is unfit to govern – a move which he has not yet taken.
In Nigeria, bloggers have commented on living in a country of 150 million without a formal leader and the political uncertainty that it has unleashed:
From Nigerian Curiosity, the “musings of a concerned Nigerian”:
A ‘rule of law’ President all the way in Saudi Arabia does not help the average Nigerian and the confusion this absence leaves in its wake only compounds issues. What is beyond confusion, nevertheless, is that the political disorientation Nigeria currently experiences will not soon abate.
From Grandiose Parlor, commentary on Nigeria:
The president has broken his contract with the Nigerian people who voted him into office … [T]here are just too many controversies surrounding his medical stay in Saudi Arabia to warrant forgiveness from the Nigerian people. Dead or alive, Alhaji Umaru YarAdua is no longer fit to govern Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The leadership crisis has also triggered criticism of Nigeria’s political class. From Adeola Aderounmu’s blog, Thy Glory O Nigeria..!
Those who own and run Nigeria don’t care about the millions living in poverty and desperation … [S]ince we don’t have democracy in Nigeria and since those who run Nigeria do not give account to anyone, the rest of us can remain in coma with the runaway fake president. Welcome to Nigeria, a country ruled by mad politicians and gangsters called godfathers. They are sharing money, bribing themselves back and forth and everything is so uncertain.
The author of Nigerian Curiosity has also predicted that any statement from Yar’Adua on his capacity to govern will be questioned from many quarters:
This disturbing reality – questions about Yar’Adua’s capacity – lends itself to any letter that might be issued and signed by him. Already, there is a court case alleging that the 2010 budget introduced during the President’s absence has a forged signature on it. Hence, it is likely that any letter supposedly signed by the President to the National Assembly will equally be questioned and rightly so as it remains unclear whether President Yar’Adua is in a position, healthwise, to perform such functions. And, if he is capable, then how long will he be gone for? Will this time be added to the almost 80 days he has been gone? The questions are limitless …
– James Matthews