Power play at Aso Rock: Yar'Adua made me Acting President, say Yayale Ahmed, SGF

Umaru Yar'Adua: Empowered Yayale Ahmed to act as President

As his health failed and he had to be rushed to a Saudi hospital, late president Umaru Yar’Adua illegally bypassed his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, and handed presidential authority to Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

This unconstitutional act, in November 2009, has now come to light through US diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks and made available exclusively to NEXT.

The sidelining of Mr Jonathan, who finally became president only after Mr Yar’Adua died in March last year, was confirmed to US diplomats by none other than Mr. Ahmed himself.

The 59-year-old secretary to the government, apparently ran Nigeria, performing the functions of the president, while late president Yar’Adua lay sick, unable to discharge his duties.

The leaked diplomatic cables show that Mr. Yar’Adua, after becoming too ill to govern, asked Mr. Ahmed to discharge the functions of president on his behalf, effectively sidelining his deputy, Mr. Jonathan.

The Nigerian Constitution directs the vice-president to discharge the functions of the president whenever the latter proceeds on vacation or becomes unable to perform his duties.

But Mr. Yar’Adua repeatedly travelled out of the country, at times for prolonged medical treatment, without handing over to his deputy.

Ahmed goes to Washington

According to the cable, dated September 17, 2008, Mr. Ahmed told the American ambassador, Robin Sanders, who met him on September 15, 2008, that when president Yar’Adua became too weak to govern, he handed over to him, and asked him to perform the executive functions of the president.

“Ahmed noted that Yar’Adua had asked him to take over a lot of the day-to-day executive responsibilities due to his health,” the ambassador said in her cable to Washington.

To enable him to consolidate his position as the country’s de facto president, Mr. Ahmed then requested direct meetings with senior US government officials. Ms Sanders assured him she would inform Washington of his request.

It is not clear whether Mr. Ahmed eventually met with American government officials in his capacity as the anointed acting president. He was, however, in Washington on April 6, 2010, where he represented Nigeria at the signing of the US-Nigeria Binational Commission.

Mr. Ahmed’s disclosure that he acted in Mr. Yar’Adua’s stead, ahead of then Vice President Jonathan, offers some insight into the deft political manoeuvring and power play in the country during the period the late president was sick and unable to govern.

Mr. Yar’Adua wouldn’t handover to Mr. Jonathan during his numerous trips abroad for medical treatment, allegedly following advice from his wife, Turai, and close associates who claimed the vice president could not be trusted.

Nigeria Seal


Keeping it among friends

Even after it became clear that the late president had become incapacitated and would no longer be able to perform the functions of his office, the cabal around him still blocked Mr. Jonathan from ascending to the position of acting president, until the National Assembly and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum stepped in.

In another cable dated October 24, 2008, which profiled Mr. Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet, the Americans described Mr. Ahmed as a powerful and influential Nigerian who ran the show while the late president was sick.

Mr. Ahmed, a former defence minister and head of the civil service, became SGF on September 8, 2008, replacing Babagana Kingibe. He thus became one of Mr. Yar’Adua’s closest confidants.

The dispatch described Mr. Ahmed as, “A former classmate of the President; in charge of most of the day-to-day operations of the government; affable but should not be underestimated; reasonably positively disposed towards the U.S.; recommend we take him up on his desire to visit Washington DC.

Yayale Ahmed

“If Yar’Adua weathers the medical issues longer than anticipated, then Yayale Ahmed most likely will be the one running the show behind the scenes unless he is forced out in some political play, which could happen,” the cables said.

Mr. Yayale’s spokesperson, Salisu Na’inna said he could not comment on the statements credited to his boss because he was in a meeting when NEXT contacted him. He promised to call back but had not done so at the time of going to press.
Source: Wiikileaks through NEXT


  1. And so what if he said yaradua made him acting president,….
    Tell me a single point in time where the SGF acted in the capacity of the president without GEJ knowing… Point out just a single incident that showed the SGF bypassed the then VP, or making any presidential descision without the knowledge of GEJ.

    I bet u the SGF has long before their meeting with the ambassador informed goodluck of all that was happening. GEJ knows the SGF more than u all think morons, and the SGF knows GEJ more than many top gov officials not to mention useless people like u whom their mouth never say anything positive. He knows how important and how helpful and supportive the SGF has been all this while. Wasnt there a cabinet shake up at then? Do you remember the officials that were dropped? What treatment did they accorded GEJ and the SGF as well other cabinet members not in support of their hidden agenda? Where were they all this while? If the SGF ever worked against GEJ, where do you think he might have been by now? As the crises deepened and eventually ended, why cant people think honestly and be bold enough to reason like civilized humans and assess the whole drama in an unbiased point of view, the bitter truth remains and the records are their for generations to come that YAYALE Ahmed gave GEJ with utmost respect one of the best of supports, guide, courage to stand on his fit on strong grounds that only few government officials gave or offered at that particular time. First of all, there were no witnesses or anyone around at the time of the meeting, so how stupid are people to think that the SGF will just start parading himself as the acting president? Tell me how he managed to do that if morons actually thought that really happened, not even the question of how would he have done that when the whole world was looking and waiting for events to unfold? All these are unfair to the person of a man like him, when at that period only few people will be able to tell us the kind of hardship they’d passed with GEJ as one of those.
    So what?? oh, YES, the late president made him acting president but only at the venue of the meeting and that’s where it has ended.

    All I want now is for some1 to please point me just a single thing on the contrary in which the SGF did that actually showed he accepted and had acted in that capacity. What yaradua said we know is unconstitutional but point out a thing that yayale did to match as the result of the unconstitutional offer..

    Anyways, you morons are nigerians poisoned with nija mentality of turning little things into big ones, blindly, deaf, not being opened minded, selfishly, mind full of hatred for one another, jealousy, envy…. GEJ is a witness to all that happened cos they stood together during the crises and they came out in one piece yet even stronger. If u think GEJ was bypassed off his powers by Yayale alone, then God the ALL Seeing has been watching all the way and the Same God that guided all of them never gets tired, nor does He sleep, And HE will see those with clean heart and good intentions all through no matter what morons like u all have said, are saying and will say in the near future. WHO SIGNED THE BUDGET???? Make una use ur common sesnse! This is not about north or south,