I do not feel it is right to accuse anyone without justification let alone the leader of a country. It would also be morally wrong to tarnish a person's name with the graffiti of insincerity as insincerity strikes at the heart of a person's credibility and integrity. To suggest therefore that Yar'Adua is insincere is not an attempt at soiling the image of the President of Nigeria, who possibly, may have some good points in his kitty. In my own view however, Yar’Adua may have every gift of nature but he lacks an honourable mind because of his penchant to break promises.
It would be different if he promised to build 20 hospitals per year and only managed to build eight, or better still, if he promised to reduce the number of serving police officers before the election and realised that he needed to increase the number for improved security. No, our President takes advantage of Nigerians, surreptitiously worked his way to their minds with promises that he is not prepared or has the capability to fulfil.
The following are a few reasons why I believe that Yar’Adua is the most insincere President we ever had:
1. The 'servant leader' ruse – Like many Nigerians, I was impressed by Yar'Adua's inaugural speech when he boldly went where no President before him had gone, declaring he will be a servant leader. This was a new season for Nigeria, I thought, a new beginning for our nation when the leader recognises that he is essentially the servant of the people. My belief was that no one could have said these words unless they were consciously prepared to serve. Yar'Adua's assertion of servant leadership was loaded. First he was distancing himself from the bullish tactics of his immediate predecessor and the aggression of past military rulers. Secondly, he was signalling that there is clear blue water between him and former Presidents who behaved like rulers. Having borrowed from the words of Jesus, we all justifiably read into his servant leadership promise that he will prove to be real and truly serve as Jesus did to the end.
Two years on, it is clear that Yar’Adua is not living up to this reasonable expectation. His militaristic closure of ‘Channels TV’, his repeated lies to Nigerians about the purpose of his trip to Saudi Arabia which we now know was for medial treatment, his trip to Brazil whilst the Niger Delta and the North were boiling and his stubborn refusal to face the Nigerian citizens are testaments to Yar’Adua’s true feeling of who is boss. In Yar’Adua’s books, it’s certainly not the Nigerian people. We see more of Barack Obama on Nigeria’s television screen than we see Yar’Adua. The reason why Obama or any decent leaders will go on the television to present, defend and sell their policies and programmes is because they believe they are accountable to the people. If Yar’Adua is a servant leader, if he believes he is accountable to Nigerians, he will engage the public more and not just sit in Aso Rock fantasising that we never had it so good.
2. The rule of law ruse – We also initially believed the ‘rule of law’ thing which Yar’Adua sang to our ears from his inaugural speech and on the few occasions that he ‘spoke.’ We continued to believe the lie until Yar’Adua’s Attorney General began firing supporting letters to shield corrupt governors from prosecution abroad; until the EFCC stopped prosecuting people; until Siemens scandal and Senator Jubril Aminu; until Haliburton and Obasanjo’s administration bigwigs; until the House of Representatives and the inflated Peugeot scandal; until the EFCC changed a 191 count against Igbinedion to one and allowed him to walk away free with a paltry 3.5 million Naira fine for stealing 100 times this amount; until Orji Kalu, until Ibori’s hatchet man in the looting of Delta State effectively became Yar’Adua’s Chief of Staff, until Ibori himself and until I observed that the police have continued with their main vocation of harassing people for money in broad daylight and in frightening evening darkness.
So much for the ‘ruse’ of law! The people know Yar’Adua’s rule of law is a ruse to protect the powerful, even a fool knows it’s a ruse, but Yar’Adua does not give a toss because he is not accountable. He’s after all the ‘ruler’ of Nigeria, not a servant leader.
3. The State of Emergency on power ruse – Probably the greatest ruse of all is the promise made by Yar’Adua to declare a state of emergency on power within his first 100 days in office. Nothing happened after this period and no attempts were made to update the public. When the few sensible elements in the media and the more sensible citizenry spoke out at this unfulfilled promise, we were roundly condemned by the Vice President for having the effrontery to complain. Nearly 600 days after, the President spoke through a rare interview with the Guardian newspaper giving the reasons why he had not declared the state of emergency as he promised. Although he did not apologise for this breach of trust, he nonetheless, gave a robust and believable argument. He then made another pledge that he will be ready to declare the state of emergency on power at the end of May 2009.
Well this is the 3rd day of August 2009, and nothing has happened.
• Has he forgotten that he promised to do so?
• Has the power situation improved?
• Am I using inverter powered lighting system to write this article?
• Is there constant light in ‘Aso Rock’ – the President’s office?
• Would a leader be content with the majority of his people living in darkness?
• Does any of the above prove the President is accountable?
I am sure your answers to these questions are as good as mine.
One more thing, the President promised that we will generate 6000 megawatts of electricity by December 2009. We are now generating less than 1000 megawatts. I did not have light in my neighbourhood for three weeks in July. When I lamented about it, a listener said, his neighbourhood had been in the dark for six months. We all know that Yar’Adua promised 6000 megawatts to keep us silent in May when he realised that his government was in disarray. Yar’Adua’s 6000 megawatts power generation by December 2009 is a ‘will of the wisp’ promise, the more you approach, the more it recedes. Now that he realises that everyone is talking about this and also because December 2009 is knocking at the door, he has deployed his ministers to suggest why this may not be possible. Everything possible under the sun is being bandied around.
Don’t bother Mr Yar’Adua, no one believed you in the first place. I am getting a bigger generator.
he truth of the matter is that Nigeria has never really had good national leaders, so it’s a case of one bush fowl not being taller than the other with Yar’Adua. He could have however been forgiven but for his practiced sincerity which has now been exposed as a ruse. At least with the others, we knew where they stood. We knew that Babangida was a snake; he even likes to refer to himself as ‘the evil genius’. We knew that Abacha was a murderer and a vagabond, he booted off many people and he wore dark sunshades even in the dark. We knew that Shonekan was a joke, he still parades himself as a one-time President of Nigeria though a gun was held to his head throughout what even his Yoruba kith and kin has appropriately tagged fidihe government. We knew that Abdusallam was desperate to go as he was desperate to loot. We knew that Obasanjo was a bully, he even harassed priests, friends and family. All these people displayed their true colours and though we loathed them, they were relatively genuine.
The reason why Yar’Adua’s actions are unforgivable is because of his hopeless strategy to play on our intelligence. Some call this type of behaviour ‘green snake under a green grass syndrome’, some say it’s politics, I say it’s insincerity.
Gbenga Badejo [email protected] publishes ‘Postcard from Lagos’ www.postcardfromlagos.com