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[Wikileaks] “Yar’Adua mistrusted Jonathan, believed Jonathan was waiting for him to die” – Dora Akunyili



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Prof Dorothy Nkem Akunyili, the former Federal Minister for Information and Communication for Nigeria under the presidency of the then President Umaru Yar’Adua [May His Soul Rest in Peace] who recently contested for a senatorial seat for the central district of Anambra State under the political party of the All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA] and failed – is reported in a recent release by Wikileaks to have espoused the private views of the then President towards his Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan – in a private midnight telephone chat with the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders.

Prof Akunyili had sought the audience of the American Ambassador to vent concerning the “real mess” Nigeria finds herself as a result of the uncertainty over the ill health of the then President Umaru Yar’Adua who was at the time admitted to a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Prof Akunyili related to the American Ambassador that the then President never had a good relationship with Goodluck Jonathan -that Yar’Adua mistrusted Jonathan – that he believed Jonathan was waiting for him to die – so he could take over.

Prof Dora Akunyili who told the American Ambassador that she made sure she was not using her “government phone” expressed that Goodluck Jonathan was confused on what do. She stated that Goodluck Jonathan did not want to send the wrong signal to the north.

For more details read the WIRE REPORT below filed by the American Ambassador – under CLASSIFIED information.




Classified By: Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders 



1. (S) As a follow-up to an earlier conversation (ref b)

Information Minister Dora Akunyili called Ambassador at 11:45

p.m. at her residence December 1 to discuss the state of

President Yar’Adua’s health, and as another Southerner, the

worries of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan if the President

dies.  Akunyili said she called the Ambassador on a

non-government registered phone and waited until she arrived

home to conduct her conversation; hence, the late call.

Akunyili began by stating that “the country is in a real mess

as Yar’Adua has been in and out of a comatose state since his

arrival in Saudi, only coming out briefly afternoon of

November 30, and since then he has been in a coma.”  She

added that the Vice President is symbolically in charge, but

is afraid to show any leadership in this environment given

that it might be “misunderstood.”  Earlier December 1, (see

other channels) several associates met with Mission Officer

to inform him that the VP was sending emissaries to obtain an

assessment of the current environment and to find out how the

international community would feel about him acceding to the

Presidency if Yar’Adua died.  Mission Officer stated our

policy of the primacy of following the rule of law and the

Constitution. News on the ground has not changed much in the

last 24 hours; succession noises are still being made, and we

continue to have feelers out all over town (particularly in

the military, see ref C on Chief of the Army’s comment on

military posture), in Saudi and through our very helpful

sister Embassy and Consulate General in Saudi Arabia.  END





2. (S) In a late night conversation on December 1 with

Information Minister Dora Akunyili, who is known as a

straight shooter from her days as Director of the National

Food and Drug Agency, told the Ambassador that “Nigeria was

in a real mess” at the moment with President Yar’Adua being

“in and out of a coma since his arrival in Saudi, but mostly

in the last 2 days.”  She said she doubted that the President

could survive this current crisis as he had in the past,

noting that he was only conscious enough to talk to a few

people on the afternoon of November 30.  (NOTE:  This account

bears out, given that Kwara Governor Saraki told us that he

had a very brief chat with the President afternoon of

November 30 — ref A.  END NOTE.).  Akunyili added that there

is no clear leadership right now, because Vice President

Goodluck Jonathan is worried, unsure of what to do, and

concerned about sending signals that “could be misunderstood

at this sensitive stage among northerners.”  (Please see

reporting in other channels for additional Information.)  In

addition, no one from the Villa (State House) is keeping the

VP informed, she said.

Q3. (S) Ambassador asked who was really running the day-to-day

tasks of the country as in the past it had unofficially been

National Security Advisor Muktar and the Secretary to the

Government of the Federation (SGF).  The Information Minister

admitted that this remained the case, but noted that Jonathan

wanted to step into the light more, but was afraid to do so.

Akunyili added that Yar’Adua and Jonathan never had a good

relationship, that the President mistrusted him, and that

there was always a sense from Yar’Adua that the VP was “just

waiting for him to die.”  She confirmed that Jonathan was

sending feelers out to key Northerners on how they were

feeling and hoping to get a signal that it was all right to

do more leadership at this time.  Ambassador asked whether

there was anything she thought friends of Nigeria could do at

this time.  Akunyili suggested that the Ambassador send a

text message to wish the President well through to his Aide

de Camp.  (Please see report in other channels.)




4. (S) Earlier on the evening of December 1, a request came

to Mission Officer outlining a scenario of having the

Ambassador deliver a letter expressing well wishes for the

President, but privately signaling the need to follow the

Constitution, de facto making the Vice President comfortable

that the USG or other international partners would not oppose

his ascendancy if it came to this.  We have told our

interlocutors that it was not possible to act in this manner

at this time, given that the President was still alive and

still the Head of State of Nigeria. (NOTE:  Ref A notes that

Jonathan went to see Senate President Mark seeking the same

assurances about succession and seeking support that the

constitutional process would be followed.  Mark said that it

would be.  END NOTE).




5. (S) Clearly, reports of the President in a coma and on a

respirator do not bode well for any recovery.  In addition,

Jonathan’s dispatching emissaries around town to take a

temperature check on the atmosphere surrounding what may be

his, sooner rather than later, ascendancy to the Presidency

further leads to the news that the President of Nigeria is in

his final days.  We are preparing a report (septel) on the

baggage that Jonathan will carry with him into State House as

there have been past reports of corruption, political

thuggery, and payments to “militant factions” from his days

as Governor of Bayelsa State as well as questions about his

competency in general.  Regarding those who might be viewed

as the strong Northerners who would become Vice President,

there seems to be a changing “short list” that could include

the Governors of Bauchi (Yuguda, also a son-in-law of

Yar’Adua), Kwara (Saraki), and Sokoto (Wamako) States at the

top.  Other strong Northern and ruling People’s Democratic

Party (PDP) personalities who will have a voice in what

happens in Nigeria range from former National Security

Advisor Aliyu, whom we also understand still desires the

Presidency, as well as Senate President David Mark.  Former

President Ibrahim Babangida, also a strong northern voice, is

out of the picture for the moment as he is in California with

his wife, whom we understand may be dying of cancer.  In

addition, we can never discount the influence and voice of

former President Obasanjo within the PDP on what to do next

as a result of Yar’Adua’s passing.  We will continue to

provide spot reporting from all sources as this situation

continues, particularly on the military.


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