, LONDON, Jan 12 – Nigerian President Umaru Yar\\\’Adua has broken a long silence he has kept since going into hospital in Saudi Arabia for heart treatment in November, telling the BBC he hopes to resume his duties.
The condition of the president as been the source of widespread speculation in Nigeria, and on Monday some online publications reported he had died the previous day.
Nigeria\\\’s opposition has also demanded tangible proof that Yar\\\’Adua is alive.
But speaking to the BBC — by telephone — Yar\\\’Adua said he was recovering.
"At the moment I am undergoing treatment, and I\\\’m getting better from the treatment. I hope that very soon there will be tremendous progress, which will allow me to get back home," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"I wish, at this stage, to thank all Nigerians for their prayers for my good health, and for their prayers for the nation."
Yar\\\’Adua, 58, has not been seen or heard from since he was flown to hospital in Saudi Arabia on November 23 to be treated for acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane around the heart.
Critics complain that his long absence has stalled governance in Africa\\\’s most populous country and second largest producer of oil, and there have been growing calls for the president to step down.