Yar’Adua: Two Months Gone! Time for Goodluck to Visit

No Comments » January 26th, 2010 posted by // Categories: General Articles

Yar’Adua: Two Months Gone! Time for Goodluck to Visit


Chido Onumah

If ever there was any doubt about how unfit President Yar’Adua is to govern, that doubt was erased by his recent interview with BBC. And by his admission – if we accept that it was Yar’Adua who spoke with BBC – we can conveniently say he is not likely to return to his job anytime soon.

Each passing day, the plot thickens, the desperation is raised another notch, and the drama gets more interesting. A few days ago, the vacuous Ojo Maduekwe, confessed, on BBC, that he had not spoken with President Yar’Adua in two months. He went on to say it was perfectly normal since he and the president, it appears, are telepathic; they know each other’s thoughts even when they are thousands of kilometres apart.

Maduekwe didn’t for once think it was odd that as Minister of Foreign Affairs he had not briefed the president in two months and the president had not given him any directives considering the events of the last two months. Watching Maduekwe, one could notice not only how miserable he was, but how difficult it was for him to defend the indefensible.

Then came the equally bizarre comment before the Senate by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, that because of the manner he left the country, the president verbally handed over to his vice. It seems whenever Yar’Adua’s handlers open their mouth, they confirm what we already know about the true condition of the president. Ahmed tried to absolve President Yar’Adua of any wrongdoing by recalling that during the president’s penultimate trip to Saudi Arabia for medical check-up and “inauguration of a university”, he had drafted a handover letter which was approved by the attorney general and signed by the president. The letter was passed to the president’s Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters for onward delivery to the National Assembly. That letter was not delivered. Ahmed urged the Senate to investigate why the letter was not delivered because in the absence of such a letter, there is, according to him, no precedent to follow.

It is difficult to know what kind of information, if any, President Yar’Adua is currently getting from the likes of Yayale Ahmed who are not only benefitting from the status quo, but are hoping against hope that Yar’Adua would be cured in no time and that he would return as president. Yayale Ahmed and his associates in this immoral plot are endangering Nigeria; and at the rate they are going, considering their frantic disposition, by the time Yar’Adua returns to Nigeria, dead or alive, irreparable damage would have been done.

Of course, this is not an attempt to lessen the culpability of the president. He can’t be excused from this morass. He bears full responsibility. It may be true that his devious attorney general has been telling him he can help him wiggle his way out of the current fiasco as he did when the Supreme Court validated the flawed outcome of the April 2007 presidential election; perhaps his handlers have told him that they can use State resources to blackmail, cajole, and “settle” every person, including judicial officers, that stands in his way from being president until May 29, 2011.

All these are in the realm of conjecture; we may never know the truth. But Yar’Adua should take the greater part of the blame. He is (or perhaps was, up until when he relapsed into unconsciousness) President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  He knew exactly what he needed to do before he became incommunicado.

That Goodluck Jonathan, the president in waiting, has not seen (and probably not spoken to) his boss since he was wheeled out of Nigeria two months ago says a lot about the character of Nigeria’s ruling elite. Can Jonathan explain to Nigerians why he has not visited the president since November 23, 2009? They say there is honour and respect among thieves, I say not in Nigeria! Yar’Adua’s unceremonious departure from Nigeria and from his duty has further exposed the bankruptcy of Nigeria’s ruling elite. It is frightening to think that these are the people on whose hands rests the fate of 150 million people. If they do not trust one another, how can we trust them to work for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians?

The vice-president claims he has been speaking with the president. Considering the lack of official position on so many important national and international events in the last two months, it is either the president is not taking any decisions or the vice-president is not telling the whole truth. Constitutionally, the vice-president has very little role; he is more like a social prefect. But with the events of the last two months, Goodluck Jonathan can save himself and save Nigeria the impending disaster if he discards the social prefect garb and show some chutzpah and leadership. He has nothing to lose except his vice-presidential position which, whatever happens, he cannot maintain beyond May 2011.

Since President Yar’Adua can’t come to Nigeria – until his doctors permit him – Vice-president Goodluck Jonathan must out of necessity go to Saudi Arabia or wherever his boss is and let him know the following: that since he left Nigeria, a new chief justice has been sworn; that a young Nigerian attempted to blow up an airline in the US on Christmas Day, necessitating the inclusion of Nigeria in the US Terror Watch List; that the president’s signature appeared on the 2009 supplementary budget; that a massive earth quake hit Haiti, the first Black nation to gain independence, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, and Nigeria the largest Black nation in world was noticeably absent in the relief effort; that his favourite Super Eagles, after an uninspiring performance against Egypt, managed to make it to the quarterfinals of the Nations Cup; that a mini civil war has been raging in Jos, Plateau State, in the last one week; that there have been massive demonstrations around the world against his inaction; and that the “Oracle of Ota”, the man who made him president, has denounced him publicly and called on him to resign.

Finally, Jonathan should tell Yar’Adua that there is so much anger and unease in Nigeria and unless something is done urgently, even he may not have a country to return to. Jonathan should forget about the vaunted 6000 megawatts of electricity when he gets back to Nigeria. He has two simple tasks: Sack Michael Kaase Aondoakaa and start the full implementation of the electoral reform report.

I hope this is not wishful thinking. But again, this is Nigeria – a land where grotesquely odd plans very often come to pass.


Onumah is coordinator, makeyourvotescount.org

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