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Nigerian President Returns After 3 Month Absence

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Nigerian President Returns After 3 Month Absence

Africa

Nigerian President Returns After 3 Month Absence

Nigerian President Returns After 3 Month Absence

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Under a veil of secrecy, Nigeria's president has returned to the country after three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. The vice president will continue to run state business as the president recuperates.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Two planes touched down in Nigeria this week. An ambulance and troops were on hand to meet the late night flights. The next day, Nigerians woke up to the news that their president had finally returned home. He'd been gone for three months in Saudi Arabia while suffering an illness. NPR's West Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is monitoring developments.

INSKEEP: And, Ofeibea, it's had to imagine the president of the United States being out of action for three months. What are things like in Nigeria?

OFEIBEA QUIST: A complete mess and confusion, continuing speculation, especially since President Umaru Yar'Adua is back in the country, but no one has seen him publicly. Which is, of course, leading to even more allegations, accusations that the entourage around the president, including his wife Turai, are still keeping him away from the people who elected him.

INSKEEP: Now, let's remember for the last period of time, he hasn't formally been running the country. Duties were passed over to his vice president Goodluck Jonathan. So who's running the country now that he's back?

QUIST: So many people are saying who is in charge in Nigeria. We want some answers. And now we're seeing a tussle between the loyalists to the president, the national assembly, those who support the vice president and many unanswered questions.

INSKEEP: Are you telling me that the president returned to the country without this question being answered in advance?

QUIST: This is the first amendment, I think, in the constitution in the past ten years. So these are uncharted waters for Nigeria. And questions still need to be answered. It's total confusion there.

INSKEEP: So a confusing situation in the most populous nation in Africa here, a major supplier of oil and increasingly liquefied natural gas to the United States - economically important country. And Ofeibea, do you have any sense of how this controversy is affecting daily life over the past three months in Nigeria?

QUIST: But, as I say, Steve, many, many, many questions still remain unanswered.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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