January 11, 2010 / 5:10 PM / 10 years ago

Nigeria president's health is improving: spokesman

Nigeria's President Umara Yar'Ádua listens during the opening session of twelve heads of states and government meeting of the African Union in Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna

ABUJA (Reuters) - Ailing Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is “very much conscious” and his health is improving after receiving treatment for a heart condition in hospital in Saudi Arabia, a presidency spokesman said on Monday.

The 58-year-old leader has not been seen or heard from publicly since leaving Nigeria on November 23, leading to widespread speculation about his health.

“The president is alive and actually getting better,” Olusegun Adeniyi told reporters by phone from Angola. “He is very much conscious, can talk and has been talking, including making phone calls to some people back home.”

Adeniyi said Yar’Adua had ordered him to return to Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Tuesday.

A mass rally, led by Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka, is scheduled for early Tuesday in Abuja to pressure the government to disclose more information on Yar’Adua’s medical condition. Parliament is also expected to address the issue of Yar’Adua’s absence on Tuesday.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan has been representing the president at cabinet meetings and official functions but executive powers have not been transferred to him, leading to questions over the legality of decisions made by the government in the president’s absence.

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