President UM Yar Adua – Turning a Wrong Turn to a Right Turn

No Comments » June 1st, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles



Dan Azumi Kofarmata


Friday, 01 June 2007



I agreed with the position of the Nigeria Village Square (NVS) that appeared on May 30, 2007 edition of its website: [] on the political correctness or otherwise of the first presidential appointments made and announced by President Umaru Musa Yar Adua (UMYA). The write up opened the floodgate of debate on the appropriateness or otherwise of the early appraisal of UMYA’s first presidential actions. Some people however, think that it is rather too early to start faulting UMYA’s presidential actions and/or inactions. I also share this view to some extent.


However, we must not forget that a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of any organization sets the tune, policy directions and expected results of his or her stewardship from his or her early actions and or pronouncements. Therefore, it is not out of place to start critical analyses of UMYA’s actions and/or inactions. Doing so has the advantage of giving him the benefits of alternative views that differ in substance and quality from those emanating from the establishment order and sycophantic enclave of rent-seekers.


At issue are the first presidential staff appointments announced by President UMYA. Some critical minds consider these appointments as sloppy and politically incorrect. Some of the grounds of the thumps-down of these appointments are largely because they do not meet the decisive test of Nigeria’s sensibilities regarding ethno-linguistic, religious and geo-political realities principally. Furthermore, the appointments are not in consonance with the promise candidate UMYA made to Nigerians during his electioneering campaign blitz that his presidency would end the rapacious and greedy reign of the existing political ruling elites. Therefore, based on these grounds, an early warning flag is being raised to remind UMYA that the world is watching every meniscus step he takes in starting his legacy.


Foreign watchers of Nigeria are also curiously watching every step the new government is taking. For example, the influential international magazine, The Economist, in its May 26th 2007 edition carried almost two pages of very critical analysis of the new government-in waiting then. It asserted that people should “expect a different style in leadership but little change in the government’s way of working” (The Economist, May 26, 2007, page 67-68).


Therefore, these first presidential appointments made by UMYA re-affirm what is in the minds of some sceptics. For example, UMYA is beginning to surround and cage himself with the never-ending any government in power (AGIP), re-used and re-cycled members of the very political ruling elites that he promised to eliminate in his no business as usual change in governance and national leadership style. For instance, the appointments of Ambassador Babagana Kingebe as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the retention of retired generals Abdullahi Mohammed and Sarki Muktar as Chief Staff and National Security Adviser respectively are not good omen for the new administration facing serious legitimacy crisis at home and abroad. With this first batch of appointments, the presidency is beginning to show that, it would be heavy loaded with Obasanjo’s leftover garbage. Nigerians are watching with keen interest – we pray that the honeymoon will not be short lived! 


These old establishment hawks (and we expect more of them are coming on board soon) left behind by the “gruff, short-tempered and evangelical Mr Obasanjo”(courtesy of The Economist Magazine referred to above) are viewed by many watchers of the Nigerian political scene as the continuation of the old order. They are there to ensure that Obasanjo’s orders are implemented, with UMYA as a mere figurehead and puppet holding the throne in trust for Obasanjo. These concerns are buttressed by the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Constitution – the ruling party, has been altered to allow Obasanjo unlimited powers and control to dictate and map out how the country will be governed. Least we forget, Obasanjo assumes his new role as the life Patron-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling PDP and as well as the “Father of modern Nigeria.” These positions and titles carry with them full executive powers and stamps of authority over the future of Nigeria.


The other pointer to the concerns over the “one-man” domineering influence over the lives and welfare of over 140 million Nigerians is the anointing of whom become the new leaders of the National Assembly. This duty has been performed by one and only one person, Garrison Commander-General Obasanjo. For example, Garrison Commander-General Obasanjo (a.k.a. Emperor Obasanjo).has anointed another retired Army General as the new Senate President. This shows that the political space is peopled and dominated by a mafia-styled militicians who displaced the original tradition political class since 1983.


Furthermore, Emperor Obasanjo (and Minister-for-Nearly-Everything)has decreed that henceforth, he would micro-manage the affairs of the two arms of government from the Command and Control Desk of the Life-Patron and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling party (PDP). Of course, UMYA has already accepted the dreaded decree by telling Nigerians and the international community to expect little changes in the composition of the new administration and has pledged (probably not the Okija style) to irreversibly, continue with the failed economic reforms agenda of His Royal Majesty Emperor Obasanjo!


In a few days to come, the Emperor will initiate the new leadership of the National Assembly into the cult of Babacracy of Nigeria. They too, are expected to fall in line or will soon be forced to walk on the infamous dreadful Banana Peels-covered red and green coloured carpeted political “Runways” located in the respective hollowed Chambers of the National Assembly. The take-off and landing will be banishment to the destination of political wilderness experienced by victims like the indefatigable former Senate Presidents late Dr Chuba Okadigbo (the venerable Oyi of Oyi) and the young super-warrior Anyim Pius Anyim, respectively.


We have seen that UMYA’s presidential limousine has been forced to take a “Wrong Turn” on its maiden presidential journey so far. The hands of the driver have been arms-twisted by the political-cum-spiritual godfather who decides which route must be followed even if it will lead the flock of over 140 million lives to precipice. Is there a way-out to lend a helping hand to steer the presidential limo out of this clear and present danger? Of course, the world is not a dry pond, as Obasanjo would like us to believe. I would suggest a quick rapid emergency rescue measure for UMYA if he would not be afraid of being accused of “biting the finger that fed him” (with my apologies to the super-ego driven former Minister Nasir El-Rufai). 


A quickie of turning from the “Wrong Turn” to the “Right Turn” would be to borrow some political acumen from France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who took over power in France some weeks ago, before the changeover here in Nigeria. I anticipate that some people would be quick to say that, Nigeria and France are poles apart by history, culture, economic and political maturity. Nevertheless, the issue at hand is universal; it is all about how good political calculations, creativity and strategies are made in order to achieve desired political objectives of exercising and retaining political power and building bridges across the political divide. For this reason, I have no problem in making France and President Sarkozy as points of reference.


The only fundamental difference between the French and the Nigerian situations is the elections that brought the two personalities in power respectively. The issue before us here has nothing to do with the electoral processes per se, but the aftermath of the elections, managing the process of forming a government. Thus, it is safe to use this example to underscore the relevance of the lessons that President UMYA can learn from President Sarkozy’s mastery of the political game of turning what seems to be political adversity into extra-ordinary political assets.


Therefore, I would seriously recommend President UMYA to obtain and read the May 26th – June 1st 2007 edition of The Economist Magazine (pages 35-36). The magazine x-rayed how President Sarkozy within his first week in power, was able to disarmed and brought unto his political fold almost all his political opponents that contesting with and against him and the critics whom opposed his being elected as President of France for ideological and/or other reasons. It was reported by the same magazine that, Sarkozy used an artful mix of political inclusiveness, policy creativity and symbolic renewal to disarm his critics and adversaries. By so doing, Sarkozy formed a broad-based government that stunned even those who expected an ideological president. Accordingly, he put merit before loyalty and thus, responded to a public that desired political inclusiveness rather than “a winner takes all” type of political arrangement and order.


Therefore, I fervently recommend this type of political balancing style to President UMYA and the entire Nigerian political class, including civil society organisations. All should embrace this win- win style at this trying period of our shaky democratic experimentation. With this type of style, President UMYA may likely win over his side and disarm the must virulent opposition parties and civil society groups that are very strongly opposed to the flawed April 2007general elections that ushered in the present administrations in Nigeria. To succeed in this onerous task, President UMYA must free himself from the shackles and tentacles of Emperor Obasanjo, the rabid militician PDP hawks and the gang of rent-seeking business moguls surrounding him. France’s Nicholas Sarkozy is a man of courage, fearless and righteous. These qualities helped him achieved the marvellous feat using this remarkable style. Would President UMYA be Nigeria’s Sarkozy? This is more than a billion naira question. The honeymoon is still on. Time will tell and Nigeria will survive.

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