29th May 2007 will go down in the history of Nigeria as a date a certain Umaru Musa Yar’Adua took over the mantle of leadership emerging from a well documented flawed election. This 57 years old man who is considerable sick imposed himself on a people that sought a break from the past, knowing fully well he was ill-prepared for the office. He willingly accepted to become the President of a nation that will be considered sick. In spite of the fraudulent elections, Nigerians being good people from great nation did not only forgive him, but also believed and trusted him to change the fortunes of the nation and her people.
With all the merry, cheering and momentum ushering a new president and administration, once again Nigerians were in high spirit, praising and thanking God that a “university graduate” has come to lead. At the inauguration ground, Umaru Yar’Adua made a very passionate call for unity with promises of a new dawn. In his speech a line from which was clearly caved out “the time is now” he pledged his commitment to rule of law, fight against corruption, electoral reforms and so on.  Yar’adua did something that further rode him into the hearts of Nigerians who were still in doubts about the motive of this new messiah: he (Yar’adua) publicly declared that the election that brought him into power was a sham, confirming public knowledge. This is something Nigerians never heard before; we are used to the ranting and ego display of people that found themselves in position of power. He also went a step further to call himself a servant and the Nigeria people as his masters (humility I thought).

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Just as we were still in the “victory at last” celebration mood, Umaru Yar’adua pleaded with us for our time, patience and understanding as he embarked on the journey of clearing the mess of Obasanjo’s administration. We agreed to allow him the needed time as many believed Obasanjo created a lot of discombobulations in the polity. Before I proceed it will be worthy to recall that at the time of Obasanjo’s departure, Nigeria had about 63billion USD sitting in her New York bank account (foreign reserve), Obasanjo’s administration saved up some huge amount of money relaxing in the excess crude account with CBN, there was also ongoing independent power generation and distribution, local health centers, rail network, couple with other long term infrastructural developments all sited in different parts of the country with the targeted deadline for completion in the year 2010. Moreso the emperor- Obasanjo had cleared off our international debt portfolio, meaning Yar’Adua’s Nigeria had a zero international debt profile. Investors were confident as at 29th May 2007, things were all in top form and shape, there was a relief sign that a less corrupt President who promised to maintain/complete the investments of Obasanjo’s years has come; Yar’Adua couldn’t have done it better or Nigeria had it better.

Not so long after Yar’adua settled into his new office, as his administration took off Nigerians were awoken with operation reversal. Yar’Adua began reversing everything and anything that has Obasanjo’s signature appended on it. The independent power plans, the rail plans, the AP, NITEL and steel company’s sales were all reversed. Also not left out was the monetisation policy of Obasanjo’s government. Nigerians became a bit worried, but then we remembered he asked for time and our understanding. Weeks became months with nothing on ground to show a bright future in the making. Nigerians had closed the eyes of reasoning and questioning, but kept opened the one of e go beta. Months became a year still nothing in sight that showed a positive direction. Suddenly we were told our New York money had gone down and our international debt has gone up, official corruption rose to all time high, Nuhu Ribadu of the EFCC was removed in a yet-to-be-explained way, the committee on electoral reforms submission known as Uwais report was thrown in the garbage bin and many others I can be bothered writing down.

As all these were happening whenever we hear about our president he is either on his way to Saudi Arabia for one medical treatment or for one hajj or coffee date with the King of Saudi. Almost all of our international events were either attended by his Ministers; other times Nigeria was not represented. At the home front Yar’Adua was hardly seen in the public as most of the events he is supposed to chair or commission were all delegated to a minister or an adviser. We couldn’t complain; afterall Section 5 of the constitution bestowed on him the power to delegate duties. 

A man who pledged a renewed national spirit, and a servant of the people gradually started turning into a nightmare and monster to the same people he is supposed to be serving.... what an irony? As if matters will not get any more worse, his ministerial appointments into key ministries were chosen from his clan, where some sets of unknown bunch of rogues became what are now known as the kitchen/bedroom cabinet. Under Yar’Adua’s watch the Attorney General of the Federation became the Attorney General of Fraud. Still under his close watch more elections were rigged in favour of his party, PDP. As if that was not all there is to take, our ill-equipped universities were closed down for months, different groups under the NLC and other labour groups embarked on strikes and demonstrations for good governance; fuel pump price was reviewed upward even though the products were not available, our refineries remained in comatose with prices of basic food, goods and services on the rise. In the face of all these, our servant was nowhere to be found or in some instance found in Saudi Arabia.

Still under his watch, the Nigeria Police were busy constituting nuisance. Yar’Adua allowed many Nigerians to die in avoidable circumstance on our death trap roads, Niger Delta became a torn in the flesh of Nigeria, different armed men who enjoy killings were having a sweet time around the country; from Niger Delta to Jos, Bauchi and to other parts of northern Nigeria, kidnapping became a profitable business, with politicians as joint investors.

Umaru Yar’Adua may not have been the showman his predecessor was; however there is a gap between what you are and what you do. It is a known fact that Yar’Adua had the opportunity of setting the pace for a robust Nigeria had he continued with the achievements of Obasanjo. Yes I agree that no man is a saint as human beings are subject to mistakes and given the nature of our democratic culture Obasanjo may have ran into moral issues by over stepping his boundaries. I have no doubt in my mind that Obasanjo did 85% of what was best for the nation at the time he did. I couldn’t have supported Atiku Abubakar to succeed Obasanjo for reasons best known to me and others. Buhari may have had a corruption-free regime, but he also had gross human rights abuse records attached to his name, his democratic credentials was already dented before they even started.

The choice of Yar’Adua may not have totally been a bad choice pre-2007, as I have argued with people who felt Obasanjo’s imposition of Yar’Adua on Nigeria was to set clear his achievements and thereby “punish Nigerians” for their refusal to hand him the 3rd term ticket. This line of thoughts is far from the truth because no one would have expected Yar’Adua to not deliver on his campaign and inauguration promises. Should he (Yar’adua) had performed credibly well, I have no doubt in my mind Obasanjo would have been vindicated. A case look at Bola Tinubu and Raji Fashola in Lagos State will show some example: it is on record that Tinubu imposed Fashola on Lagosians, at that time a lot of people queried the rational of his (Tinubu’s) intentions, with the continued Tinubu’s policy and those of Fashola, Lagos is now a model for other states and the nation. Lagosians and indeed Nigerians have forgotten the process that brought Fashola into governance; no one remembers the under-hands and the intrigues Tinubu adopted to install Fashola against the wishes of his party-men. This is because Fashola is performing what some people call wonders.

Back to Yar’adua. To be sick is not a wish any human being would pray for him/herself. We all want to be in good and sound health. That Yar’adua became sick or more sick is not the question of the time, but when such a sickness becomes a factor that would prevent him from functioning as a president of an already dying nation to the best of his capacity and to the fulfilment of Nigerians’ wishes. There is a path of honour like Obasanjo pointed out. After all he was never interested in the office ipso facto. That Yar’adua, an adult who has advanced to such an age that he clearly understands the implications of his conducts to turn around and act like a child is to say the least shameful. Power does not belong to anyone, and dying in power selfishly is a curse on its own.

A servant who serves his master in a way that has brought his master to public ridicule with total disregard to his master’s goodwill, has not only invoked his master’s wrath, such a servant also deserves a sack. However he chooses to act now, the deed has been done.

Asking Nigerians to keep praying for Yar’adua while he refuses to hand over power to his deputy is morally wrong, because if it is morally right to pray for his recovery, it is morally right for him to hand over pending such a time he is deemed fit/capable of presiding over the affairs of Nigeria. To do otherwise is to further extend the piss to encourage Yar’adua into taking the mickey.

May Nigerians Heal Their Land

May God Bless Nigeria
 

Charles Jiduwah

[email protected]

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