France, as one of the principal world powers, official possessor of nuclear weapons, permanent member of the UN Security Council and one of the engine rooms of the European Union, must be seen as wielding enormous influence in the new world order. When this pre-eminence is coupled with its progressive international policy that leaves no accommodation for any tyrant anywhere in the world then the great nation ought to be respected and lauded. Besides, the majesty of the democratic system in the old country much like the US, was in full display as the French people went to the polls recently.

Upon winning convincingly the 2007 presidential election in France, the then president-elect (and now out-going president) Nicolas Sarkozy found himself in the middle of a family dispute that was blown open because the then wife acted un-African in nature! The then First Lady suddenly decided it was time to go, to move out of the life of the dimunitive first citizen. Sarko, as Sarkozy is fondly called in France therefore made a name globally for himself for 'wrong'  matrimonial reasons: his ex-wife Cecilia Sarkozy filed for divorce and quit the home claiming irreconcilliable differences.

I said 'un-African' above (mark my word!) because such decision by Cecilia would never have happened in this clime. Just imagine the late beautiful Maryam Babangida in her Better-Life-For-Rural-Women robe quitting IBB days or months after the 'Maradona' shot his way to Dodan Barracks in Lagos thus deposing Gen. Buhari as a fifth columnist? Or Mariam Abacha abandoning the late Maximum ruler weeks after he sacked Ernest Shonekan's illegitimate ING and forcefully took over the national treasury which he 'manhandled' at will? Or better still a Stella Obasanjo refusing to continue living in Aso Rock with OBJ just because 'Baba' was a former prisoner and a hooker? Or because the 'oracle of Ota' came out of the Abacha gulag penniless and emaciated to the point of looking like a Somalian refugee?

Or recently a Turai Yar'Adua filing for divorce because the late President Yar'Adua was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss Syndrome which later killed him and the woman in active collaboration with the cabal held the nation hostage for weeks trying to 'raise' him from dead? Holy Jesus! The spectacular failure to 'resurrect' the then ailing 'clinically-dead' president went a long way to showing how desperate politicians in 'Naija' could abuse the celestial domain that belongs exclusively to Jesus the Christ and God the Almighty!

Let us, in the spirit of 'libre pensée' (free thought) take the issue further by involving the present political circumstance back home. Imagine a Dame Patience Jonathan quitting GEJ as he assumed the executive power as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces just months after Yar'Adua 'expired' in the Villa because Goodluck was equally 'lucky' when it comes to dating his lady-Ministers? Throughout the campaign period in France we never saw Ms Trierweiler-Hollande mounting the soap-box and screaming 'vote for umblera(!)' as the Dame did nor expected to see the French new first lady visiting the opposition stronghold to 'thank' supporters for 'voting' for her husband as the Dame did recently in Lagos causing a huge traffic jam that made Governor Fashola to condemn the visit and the manner the over-zealous security agents held Lagosians hostage for hours just to 'secure' the Dame.

The truth is that Cecilia left Sarkozy and Sarkozy had to recuperate from the 'trauma' of yet another marital blow having divorced his first wife before 'engaging' Cecilia whom he reportedly 'snatched' from another man! While Sarkozy later met the Italian model Carla Bruni and married her Cecilia equally met and married a Moroccan-born businessman named Richard Attias in the US (New York). And they are living happily ever since.

The woman Sarkozy defeated in the 2007 poll, Segolene Royal, also suffered a broken home having seperated from the father of her children and the president-elect of France Francois Hollande. And the president-elect has a 'mistress' by name Valérie Trierweiler, the future First Lady, a practicing journalist who still bears the name of her former husband. And the love story goes on and on. Between the French and love there seems to be a perfect romantic accord: what with the language whose tenderness and feminity is legendary; what with the culture and general understanding that the biological 'he-pistol' and 'she-hole' must never be 'enemies' no matter the provocation?! Sexy people, sexy country, sexy culture, sexy language 'la' France!

Just a year ago in May in New York's Sofitel Hotel a huge international sex scandal broke out involving one black African lady from Guinea-Conakry, Ms Nafissatou Diallo, working in the hotel and the former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Khan (DSK). Before that big sexual issue happened the DSK was tipped to become the next President of France as the general opinion polls gave him a huge advantage over the incumbent Sarkozy. The scandal consumed that ambition and rendered DSK jobless as he was forced to resign from his top job. See what an 'unathourized' sexual escapade can do in a big man's life?

The French satirical media were comparing the DSK dirty amorous affair to the ex-President Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky sex scandal many years ago in the US. With the randy DSK out of the political picture and equation Francois Hollande seized the opportunity to avenge the loss suffered by the mother of his children in 2007 when Sarkozy inflicted a demoralising defeat to the socialist party by ending speculations about France producing the very first female president.

The presidential election in France has come and gone with clear winner and loser known even though the contest was tight with just 3 percent separating the victor from the vanquished. The French political landscape changed with a socialist candidate trouncing the right-leaning incumbent president as Francois Mitterrand did three decades ago.

The heated televised debate between the out-going President and the elected President was a demonstration of the French philosophy of true democracy and an opportuned avenue for making a definitive choice by the electorate especially the undecided and the reluctant. Between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy a huge opportunity was equally provided by the 3-hour intense debate platform (viewed globally by a record-breaking 18 million viewers) to deliver a knock-out punch but no one did exactly that; agreed it was tense, gruelling and controversial no one was clearly in Mike Tyson mood!

With accusations and counter accusations, promises upon promises, polite insults and clichés flying back and forte -- all combined to render the face-to-face memorable -- democracy triumphed in the end. No one really came out with a clear 'victory' but Sarkozy was, for me, more elucidating and more presidential in outlook and speech content. But he betrayed a president who under-estimated his socialist bespectacled opponent who looked more relaxed and less radical.

Trailing behind Hollande in different opinion polls months even before the campaigns kicked off Sarkozy was rattled when three of the losers in the first round called openly for their voters to vote for Hollande. The lady who took third position, the FN leader, Marine Le Pen whose old father Jean-Marie Le Pen was a political collosus in France, refused to support any one of the two finalists insisting that she was going to cast her vote for no one but leave it blank.

As he takes his bow this week Tuesday handing over power (in deference to pure and unadulterated democracy, centuries old) to his arch-rival Francois Hollande President Sarkozy may have one or two regrets which bother on his arrogance, superior demeanour and false belief that since no French President in history had ever lost to his challenger in the first round of any presidential poll history would most likely repeat itself. He has gone down in history as the very first incumbent leader who lost in both first and second rounds. The French rightly sanctioned him in the poll for his haughty swagger and crass demonstration of "omniscience".

'Monsieur' Pierre Péan, a veteran French writer, in his book "La République des Mallettes" (The Republic of Suitcases) literally took the system 'down' in France by detailing how politicians laundered and still launder money. He specifically mentioned how the former ailing French President Jacques Chirac solicited and collected huge sums of hard currency (delivered to him via suitcases) by African presidents notably the late Omar Bongo of Gabon. But in Nigeria if I were to contemplate writing such a book I would have aptly titled it: "The Republic of 'Ghana-Must-Go!'" or better still: "The Republic of Reprobates!".

Fabrice Lhomme and Gérard Davet equally wrote a book entitled: "Sarko M'a Tuer" (Sarko Has Killed Me). In it the two journalists of 'Le Monde' in Paris narrated in graphic details how the 'Sarkozy system' worked including 'eliminating political opponents and indulging in illicit "cash deals" for sponsorship of his campaign. Sarkozy was painted as a ruthless politician with little or no sentiment.

During the protracted electoral crisis in Cote d'Ivoire President Sarkozy was allegedly calling President Goodluck Jonathan often and often encouraging him to use ECOMOG to dislodge Gbagbo who had usurped power. The two old French controversial lawyers (Maitre Roland Dumas and Jacques Verges) who came to Abidjan in the heat of the political 'war' made it clear that Sarkozy wanted to use ECOMOG to achieve an aim and warned against the dire consequencies of such brutal military invasion of a sovereign nation. In the end it seemed Jonathan back-pedalled and Sarkozy decided to act under the banner of a UN resolution against the Gbagbo electoral banditry.

As Sarkozy was defeated he made a name for himself by becoming the first French President since Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981 not to win a second term. As his 5-year hyper-presidency technically came to an end last week Sunday Sarkozy is going home with sweet and bitter memories. Sweet memories of marrying the Italian model Carla Bruni as wife after assuming the presidency. And 'extracting' a beautiful daughter from her named Giulia. Sweet memories of endearing himself to some democratic forces around the world!

Sweet memories of becoming the first French President in modern history to have fathered a child in Elyseé Palace! Sweet memories of aiding the global coalition in defeating the late Ghaddafi's killing machine in Libya -- with him ordering the first air raid against the government amoured tanks heading towards Benghazi. Sweet memories of installing President Ouattara in power in the Ivory Coast and having given the nod for the ex-President Gbagbo to be 'deported' to the Hague to face trial for war crimes!

On the other hand however he will be going out with bitter memories as well. Bitter memories of the harsh electoral judgement passed on his administration by the French voters. Bitter memories of multiple scandals that trailed his government. Bitter memories of not belonging any longer to the 'big club' of four most powerful people on earth: Presidents Barack Obama and Vladmir Putin, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister David Cameron. Bitter memories of prospects of judicial pursuit a la Jacques Chirac now that his immunity is gone!

'Sarko, c'est la chute, la fin de la hyper-presidence!' (Sarko, it is the fall, the end of the hyper-presidency). The democratic forces around the world salute your modest contributions to a better world! Yes we do! The only regret we harbour remains the fact that the presidential daughter, Giulia Sarkozy, in her innocence, may be heading 'home' from Elyseé with nostalgic feelings. Since she was conceived and born in the imposing edifice in Paris it is a thing to bemoan how she might feel outside it come Tuesday-- 'acclamatising' herself with life outside the 'paradise' she had probably thought was hers or her fathers for the asking!

'Au revoir Mec!' (Goodbye buddy!) 'A bientot Sarko' (Farewell Sarko!) 'Mardi prochaine sera vraiment une long jour et nuit!' (Next Tuesday will really be a long day and night!)

SOC Okenwa
soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

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