Fellow citizens of our great country, those within our borders and those in Diaspora, it has become necessary for us at this critical juncture of our national life to bring a timely word to our people as we by God’s grace make sense of the non-sense that has permeated our polity since November 23, 2009 in the name of hanging onto power at all costs.
Those of us old enough have seen this phenomenon before during the era of sit-tight Premiers who considered leadership as their birth-right and plunged our nation into the crisis that paved way for those not trained in the art and politics of nation building to ravage our land.
Since May 1999, a new season came upon us after a long and protracted battle for the liberation of our land and people from our internal colonialists who used the barrel of the gun to harass, intimidate and subjugate the people they pledged to defend and serve.
Our hard-worn democracy, though battered by Generals in mufti is now at the brink of collapse in the hands of ‘sons of necessity’ thrust upon us by those who do not wish our country well for whatever reasons known to them.
Let me make it plain from the on-set that no right thinking person with the milk of human kindness will blame President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua for falling ill. No rational human being desires the kind of torture both known and imagined that his health has been subjected to since he was flown out of the country to a hospital abroad because the ones at home are underfunded and ill-equipped to provide the kind of treatment deserved by men in power whether it is pericarditis or radiculopathy.
We sympathise with President Umaru Yar’Adua especially now realising that after almost 100 days of grave illness and First-class medical treatment and attention, he is still not in a position to carry out his statutory duties as the Executive President of the most populous black nation on the earth. We must and we will continue to pray to God to resolve the health issue of Mr. President in his best interest and that of our nation.
Having dealt with the President’s health issue, it is pertinent to address some vital issues and ask relevant questions generated especially by the recent smuggling in of our President like ‘a thief in the night’.
1. What is the motive behind the sudden discharge from the intensive care unit of a hospital of a man so sick that he cannot be seen in public even as we talk and has not been seen by any member of his cabinet including his spokesman?
2. If the president is recuperating as is being suggested by his handlers, who are the doctors - foreign or local - attending to him and where is he located at the present moment – inside the villa, in an ambulance, attached to a life support machine, or where precisely?
3. How long will this hide-and-seek game about the health of the President go on for and how do we pray for a man whose actual condition we do not know?
4. Should the destinies of over 140 million people hang in the balance because of one life who in spite of executive powers is just a citizen like any of us?
5. What should we do in the interim to ensure that our nation does not fall into the abyss of darkness, chaos and disintegration ultimately?
I will to the best of my God-given ability answer some of these questions.
Since only God Almighty knows the intent of the hearts of men, I will not try to suggest what the motive for the sudden discharge of Mr. President is. But if by any means it is to destabilise the National Assembly’s ‘Arrangee’ Acting President, it has already failed before it is fully hatched. I do not need to overflog this issue. The same spokesman of the President who read the script of the President’s handlers addressing the Acting President as Vice President has done a sommersault and is now telling the nation that Acting President Goodluck is now in charge until the President fully recovers.
We cannot but think that the spin doctors in Abuja are thoroughly confused in the way and manner this simple issue has been handled. What made the handlers think that the President can re-gain his powers and return to his office without transmitting a letter to the National Assembly of his recovery and ability to function as Executive President of Nigeria in line with the 1999 constitution?
Let us talk plainly here: if President Umaru Yar’Adua is truly alive and recuperating, show him to us live, let him speak to us, stop guarding his executive chair, let him sit on it and address the nation. Otherwise stop forcing the dying upon the living.
POINT TO PONDER
Over 4 years ago, Israel’s then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke and brain damage. The same night he became incapacitated, his Deputy Prime Minister was made Acting President and within 100 days he became the substantive Prime Minister of Israel till he stepped down during the next election that brought the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power. Ariel Sharon is still in a coma till now and life continues in Israel.
No nation needs a President that is either invalid or incapacitated. If we continue to stress President Yar’Adua in his sickly condition, moving him up and down in order to hang onto power, what happened to Dagon when the Philistines hijacked the Ark of the Covenant of God and brought it to Dagon’s temple may happen to him. Do not kill him before his time. (See 1 Samuel 5:1-6)
1. “Then the philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
2. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
3. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.
4. And they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.
5. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
6. But the hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.” (NKJV)
Let the handlers of Mr. President be warned.
Those within and outside the PDP who maintain that for now the Presidency belongs to the North due to the party’s zoning system should have a re-think for the following reasons:
I. PDP is not Nigeria.
II. The zoning arrangement is not recognised by the 1999 constitution.
III. Nobody is responsible for the unfortunate ill-health of President Yar’Adua.
IV. If he is incapacitated due to a health challenge as he seems to be now, the constitution of Nigeria he swore to uphold should take effect because he is the President of Nigeria not of PDP.
V. Those who smuggled the President to Nigeria willingly or unwillingly have shot themselves in the foot because he is now within our territory and it should be a lot easier for him to be examined by a medical panel pursuant to section 144 of the 1999 constitution to determine the capacity or otherwise of the President. If he is too ill to function, let the word of the Lord in Ecclesiastes 9:4 prevail:
“But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” (NKJV)
VI. As a nation:
i. We had a Ceremonial President in the 1st Republic,
ii. Military Presidents in the years of the locust,
iii. Executive President between 1979 & 83 and from 1999 to date.
iv. God forbid that we end up with a CADAVER President in 2010. Amen.
In closing let me bring out two relevant Biblical truths as we point out the way forward.
1. THE SEARCH PARTIES/FACT FINDERS SENT BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF THE FEDERATION.
2. WHO IS NOW CALLING THE SHOTS IN ABUJA?
Both the search parties sent by the National Assembly and the 6-man panel sent by the Executive Council of the Federation under the nose of the Acting President did not gain access to the president whilst in Jeddah until he was smuggled back into Nigeria in the dead of the night, and none of those people have seen him up till now. If all truth is indeed parallel then the issue of peaceful succession is upon us. A clear example was what happened when Elisha succeeded Elijah as a leading prophet in Israel. (See 2 Kings 2:15-18)
15. “Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha. And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
16. Then they said to him, Look now, there are fifty strong men with your servants. Please let them go and search for your master, lest perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley. And he said, You shall not send anyone.
17. But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, send them. Therefore they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days but did not find him.
18. And when they came back to him, for he stayed in Jericho, he said to them, Did I not say to you, Do not go?” (NKJV)
Time has come for us to stop searching for what is not lost and defending the indefensible. Let us do the needful and follow the spirit and letter of the 1999 Constitution for now, however imperfect it may be.
As to who is calling the shots in Abuja right now, we do not need to go too far to find the answer. Let’s see a parallel truth in 1 Kings 21: 1-26 (esp. vs: 4-10)
4. So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
5. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?"
6. He said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'"
7. Then Jezebel his wife said to him, "You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
8. And she wrote letters in Ahab's name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.
9. She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people;
10. and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, You have blasphemed God and the king. Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die.
At the appropriate time we will find out who signed the budget and on whose authority soldiers were brought to the streets of Abuja on that inglorious night the sick President was smuggled back into the country without the knowledge of the Acting President. Whoever did so outside of the President or Acting President acted illegally.
It is also important to note that the Jezebel factor is the breeding ground for military incursion into the political life of a nation. But let me bring a timely warning to those who might be tinkering with the idea of military solution. They should know that the Jehu revolution that wiped out Jezebel and the 70 sons of Ahab brought greater disaster to Israel than the combined efforts of Ahab and Jezebel. As the bible says,‘Let not the man who puts on the armour boast as the man who puts it off’ (1 Kings 20:11). Military incursion is an ill wind that will blow no one any good in this country. The wound inflicted on the psyche of our nation by the years of military rule is yet to fully heal.
The era of military incursion in Nigeria is over. God forbid that we plunge the nation into the years of the locust again.
THE WAY FORWARD
To avert National chaos, disaster and disintegration let the Executive Council of the Federation set up a medical panel pursuant to section 144 of the 1999 Constitution to determine the capacity or otherwise of the President due to his grave illness now that he is within reach. If the medical panel establishes that he is alive and is able to continue in the office of the President, then let Dr. Jonathan Goodluck continue to preside over the affairs of the nation as the Acting President and Commander-in –Chief of the Armed Forces, until the President fully recovers and is able mentally and otherwise to resume his statutory duties.
However, if the President is deemed incapable of continuing to run the affairs of the state by the medical panel, lets us be courageous and noble enough to do the needful by swearing in the Acting President as substantive President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces alongside a new Vice President so that our nation can move forward. (See 2 Chronicles 26:21)
26. King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD. Then Jotham his son was over the King’s house, judging the people of the land. (NKJV)
This we must do as a matter of urgency and without further delay in the interest of peace, justice, fair play and national progress.
In closing, if there is any lesson we should learn from this present dilemma to avert a re-occurrence in the future, it is that no man or woman should be elected into any political or executive office in our clime without first establishing their mental and physical fitness in addition to all other measures already established for the purpose of screening public servants in any sphere of public office.
No serious corporation employs people without first subjecting them to medical screening. Our public offices deserve nothing less. God establishes in the Bible that people with defects should not serve in the priesthood. (See Leviticus 21:17-24)
17. "Speak to Aaron, saying: 'No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God.
18. For any man who has a defect shall not approach: a man blind or lame, who has a marred face or any limb too long,
19. a man who has a broken foot or broken hand,
20. or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch.
21. No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the Lord. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
22. He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy;
23. only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the Lord sanctify them.'"
24. And Moses told it to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel.
That is not necessarily discriminatory. God knows the strength and vitality required for the office of the priest, how much more that of the #1 Citizen and allied offices of our nation? Time has come for the best, the brightest, and the fittest of us to mount the saddle of leadership in our nation regardless of where they are from – east, west, north or south.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
PASTOR TUNDE BAKARE
THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY,