Nigerian leader ill?

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua will travel to Saudi Arabia on Friday for a scheduled medical check-up, the presidency said today.
“In the course of his stay in Saudi Arabia, the president will also perform the lesser haj (Umra),” the presidency said in a statement, adding he was expected to be away for one week.

Known to have a chronic kidney problem, Yar’Adua travelled to Saudi Arabia for more than two weeks last August, an absence which raised questions – particularly among his opponents – about his fitness to govern Africa’s most populous nation.

Official statements at the time said he was on a Muslim pilgrimage but senior Nigerian officials and a medical source in Saudi Arabia said he Yar’Adua has regularly sought medical treatment in Germany as well as Saudi Arabia in the past and his health was a source of concern even before he assumed the presidency.

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

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

Pic: President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria