For your eyes only: Memo to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

To: The President

From: E. Terfa Ula-Lisa, Esq.

Subject: Credible Options

Opportunities

Being philosophical as well as pragmatic, you no doubt know that life presents us with a plethora of opportunities sometimes disguised as challenges. We have been a nation of missed opportunities, always trumping up the challenges and resting overwhelmed without a successful trouble-shooting because we have had leaders who do not think through national issues to come out with a final resolution to our malaise. However, as an introspective person, you have a rare opportunity that Providence grants few in their lifetimes to do well and affect the collective destinies of multitudes of persons. By now, you are inundated by the enormity of the royal mess left behind by your predecessors in office as leaders of Nigeria. Before the challenges overwhelm you, we would venture that you regard the challenges of our times as timely opportunities.

Elections

As you rightly noted in your speeches both in Nigeria and abroad, the elections were deeply flawed. Your major opponents in election are contesting the results at the Elections Tribunals.

In my considered opinion, the elections are likely to be cancelled by the Court of Appeal or ultimately by the Supreme Court of Nigeria for the following reasons:

1. The opposition is not seeking for a declaration that any party won elections, but that the elections be voided for inaccuracies, irregularities, outright rigging on a massive scale and ballot box jacking by hoodlums all across Nigeria.

2. Section 145 (1) provides that: An election may be questioned on any of the following grounds, that is to say…b) That the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of this Act.

Unity Government

The concept of Unity Government on its own is good, and would seemingly unite the power elite, but the strange bedfellows that may come on board as Ministers and Presidential Advisers a result of political patronage may not exactly agree with what we think need be the general direction of policy of this government. For the politicians, it would be business as usual; but we need to move away from that toward performance and progress as opposed to politics and patronage. Each party to any accord in negotiations must be made aware that it cannot be business as usual from the get go.

Minimal Role for PDP BOT

Nigerians may not have all voted for the President, but Nigerians all regard him as the person who is currently President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Before now, there have been many other past presidents/Heads of State. They all play minimal roles in governance as ex-leaders. Our constitution recognizes the Council of State and their advisory capacity. Nigerians currently resent OBJ’s muscling to remain active and relevant to this present government. He had his turn; he must be nudged gently to really retire, yelled at to back off; failing which, he ought to be checked or embarrassed to hold him in his place. He remains of the past.

What to Do

We hope the President has not missed the nuanced language of discerning Nigerians as well as the diplomatic community in aid of the Nigerian people regarding the poorly conducted elections. While Nigerians determine the political affairs of Nigeria, all had hoped to see a new engagement of the President with a brand new lease of life, not a continuation of OBJ’s efforts, however brilliant with crudities and all. We note that the current President, like OBJ before him, may be beholden to those who installed him, so we hereby suggest bold solutions following:

1. The President take up policies that would endear him to the people of Nigeria, give them a reprieve from high petroleum prices;

2. Pay some local contractors;

3. Pay all the teachers and pensioners their outstanding salaries;

4. Fund from the Federation account or even the foreign reserves, the immediate emergent repair of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Lagos-Benin-Asaba Road.

After starting on these ventures, liaise with the National House of Assembly, in consultation with the President’s lawyers and the lawyers of the opposition, to enter into an amicable out of court settlement of the Election petitions to cancel the elections and dissolve the INEC Board and recommend those with prima-facie offenses to be tried as provided by the Electoral Act 2006.

Consequence

The consequence would be that this current President would have shown that he is more interested in fixing Nigeria than hanging unto power. The President would be stealing the thunder of the opposition as well as neutralizing his meddlesome ‘godfather’. He would no doubt have national and International support, and would genuinely be embarking on the reforms of government so strongly touted but so feebly implemented by his predecessor. Once this is done and the institutions of the Rule of Law protected, International investors would be hustling in competition with one another since they already are aware of the potentials of Nigeria, the Giant of Africa. On any ballot, on a personal basis, if the President undertakes the above, he will win, Nigeria will win and a future for us all will be guaranteed. On the other hand, if the status quo is maintained, persons resent the influence of OBJ enough to throw a spanner in the works of every good strategy of this government regardless of the personal merit of Umaru Yar‘Adua.

Written by
E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq
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2 comments
  • I refer to your quote above sir [pls give yourself a name, even a fictitious one so we may refer to you] –

    QUOTE:

    why do you tell a man that his election is not valid and at the same time offer him unsolicited advice on how to govern successfully? And what are you going to say when ANPP and AC join the PDP Federal Govt in a Government of National Unity and the Election Petitions are withdrawn?

    UNQUOTE

    Nigeria must continue to exist and the governance of the polity is not personal. Families still work and have to be paid, the motorists still need petrol for vehicles and the roads must be serviced whether it is Abdul, Adeyinka or Azikiwe that is in power.

    My take on a GNU with all the parties on board is clear above, it shall be business as usual, dividing the spoils without fixing big government…

    Besides, a minister is as powerful as the President chooses to make him/her, each person serves at the pleasure of the President.

    These are my suggestions on the way forward post-OBJ. He is not the first ex-general head of state. Regarding glass houses…He may have dossiers on politicians, he is not the only one!

    Nigeria belongs to all of us.

  • These views are disappointing. The Presidential Election Petitions can never stand in Court of Law. The Supreme Court can never annul an election conducted in substantial compliance with the electoral laws and thereby execute a judicial Coup'etat especially since all of you naysayers claim you will vote for Yar'Adua in a re-contest. Or are you saying that consequent upon such annulment we should revert to the status quo ante? In 1979, Shehu Sagari did not make the Constitutional requirement but the Supreme Court interpreted two-thirds of nineteen to confirm his election and held that their decision should not be cited as precedent. Those foreign observers have said nothing new. In 1999 and 2003 they said the same thing i.e. that the elections were marred by irregularities. But in each case, they concluded that notwithstanding those irregularities, the elections represent the electoral will of Nigerians. The situation is still the same in 2007. The elections were marred by irregularities but no court will adjudge it a nullity. Everybody says Yar'Adua won. Even Buhari, the main challenger is not saying that Yar'Adua stole his mandate. All that the Petitioners allege is that there were irregularities.

    Don't join in the day-dream of Obasanjo haters because hatred for ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo is inimical to your mental health. Obasanjo will, by the grace of God, be with us for a very long time more. He will wield influence not just by virtue of being the PDP BOT Chairman but also by virtue of his INTERNATIONAL STATURE. And don't forget, he is a retired Army General. Those who resent him and want to throw spanner should remember that "he who lives in glass house should not throw stones" and that we are all in this together.

    Yar'Adua is being misquoted like you guys misquote Obasanjo. All Yar'Adua said is that the election was not perfect and that the system is marked down for reforms (just what President Obasanjo said) but you join the ignorant ones to twist it to mean that his election was deeply flawed. Are you also joining the jokers who beg Yar'Adua to voluntarily surrender his mandate and re-contest election?

    We will have a Commisson to review the Electoral System NOT the 2007 Elections. Reforms proposed will be sent for legislation at the National Assembly before the next Elections in 2011.

    But frankly, why do you tell a man that his election is not valid and at the same time offer him unsolicited advice on how to govern successfully? And what are you going to say when ANPP and AC join the PDP Federal Govt in a Government of National Unity and the Election Petitions are withdrawn? You know, yourself that the general belief in the North (to which this Presidency has been zoned) is that power belongs to Allah and that Yar'Adua got it because Allah willed it. In the long run, Buhari is Katsina and Atiku says Yar 'Adua is his "brother". So long as the mandate is between these brothers it is likely to be amicably resolved.