By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua will travel to Saudi Arabia on Monday for medical checks, his office said.
"President Umaru Yar'Adua will leave Abuja today for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While there, the president will call on his personal physicians in Jeddah for follow-up medical checks," presidency spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said in a statement.
Yar'Adua has travelled to Saudi Arabia in the past for treatment for a chronic kidney problem, raising questions about whether he will be fit enough to stand for a second term in 2011 elections.
Adeniyi said Yar'Adua had forwarded copies of the 2010 budget, which he had been due to present to parliament last week, to the heads of the Senate and House of Representatives.
The presentation of the spending plans for sub-Saharan Africa's second-biggest economy was postponed because of a row between the two chambers of parliament over which one should host the event.
Government sources have said Yar'Adua will seek approval to breach a 3 percent deficit target for the second year in a row in 2010, due to the cost of development projects in the Niger Delta and rehabilitating the country's ailing power sector.
Yar'Adua has had regular medical treatment in Germany and Saudi Arabia and his health was a source of concern even before he assumed the presidency.
He has not yet confirmed whether he plans to stand again in presidential election in 2011 but key figures in the ruling party have pledged their support if he decides to do so.
It was gathered that sickly Nigerian ruler, Umaru Yar’adua, is due to be flown out today or early tomorrow for what our source described as “urgent medical treatment.”
As at the time we were briefed, the source said insiders close to Yar'adua said the sick former governor of Katsina would be taken to a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Our source said that Yar’adua’s father-in-law is also in an Egyptian hospital. “The president’s medical trip is scheduled to last at least one week,” said the source, adding that Yar'adua “may offer the excuse that he would be visiting his father-in-law in Egypt and that his wife would attend this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia as the excuse for the trip.”
Mr. Yar’adua suffers from Churg Strauss syndrom
e, a degenerative disease. Our source said Yar’adua’s health dipped in the last three weeks. Poor health explained his conspicuous absence at the Abuja stadium during the final game of the FIFA Under-17 football game that featured Nigeria and Switzerland. “Vice President” Goodluck Jonathan stood in for him.
Saharareporters sources also said Yar’adua had only managed to meet with cabinet members at his official residence in Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
“His health took a turn for the worse over the weekend,” said one source. “His doctors have advised that he undertake immediate medical treatment outside Nigeria,” the source added. Yar'adua maintains a retinue of expatriate medical personnel at his residence and office. He travels with two well-equipped ambulances everywhere he goes in Nigeria.
Another source Yar’adua’s inability to present the annual budget last week at the National Assembly was actually due to his illness. “The so-called ‘crisis’ between the two chambers of the National Assembly was contrived to cover up Yar'adua's illness,” said the source.
In an intriguing move, Yar’adua’s People's Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday issued a stunning press release to denounce those campaigning for Yar'adua's second term in office. The party said it has not made such decision.
Meanwhile, several sources have told Saharareporters that some PDP crooks, including rogue Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa and former Delta State governor James Ibori
, have been assuring Yar’adua’s wife, Turai, that they are capable of arranging for her to serve out the remainder of her husband’s tenure should Mr. Yar’adua die or become permanently incapacitate