If I Were President Yar'Adua…

by SOC Okenwa

In April 2007 (a month described as ‘cruellest’ by the poet T.S. Elliot) Nigerians were subjected to cruel electoral drama organized by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and supervised by Maurice Iwu and his INEC. In the general elections of that month (the outcome of which remains controversial with litigations going on across the land) Obasanjo and Iwu awarded fictitious victories to candidates of their choice leaving the real winners as losers. Some of these ‘losers’ have had to apply legal means to retrieve their stolen mandates while others are not as lucky.

In the presidential level Obasanjo worked, manipulated and with crudity ensured that Umaru Yar’Adua was selected at the primaries and ‘elected’ to continue his ‘policies’ after his third term project suffered crushing defeat. President Yar’Adua’s ‘election’ is not yet finally settled judicially as litigation up to the Supreme Court continues with the supposed losers, Buhari and Atiku, taking their cases up to the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court’s decision will put an end to the April presidential poll fiasco for or against the litigants.

During his swearing-in ceremony in the Eagles Square in Abuja on May 29th Yar’Adua sought to appeal to the public emotions in his inaugural address to the nation. He subtly admitted that his election was flawed but argued nevertheless that were the exercise deemed and seen as free and fair he would have all the same triumphed over his rivals. Many Nigerians saw reason with him (then) including this writer.

When Obasanjo lost his bid to continue in office in a masked third term gambit he quickly re-strategised and sought out those who would most likely be amenable and non-radical-minded. In the run up to the presidential poll a whole lot of aspirants across the geo-political divide were criss-crossing the landscape campaigning and building bridges of understanding towards clinching the PDP primary nomination. But Obasanjo had a plan B up his sleeves as he reached for former Governors of Katsina and Bayelsa States respectively. Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan were sold to Nigerians as a good pair who would assure peace and development post-Obasanjo.

Whereas I agreed with the President that if the election that brought him in as President were free and fair he would most definitely have come out victorious the questions are: whatever happened to the organization of a free and fair poll in the first instance in our dear nation? Whichever oracle told us that that scenario of victory was assured without the incumbency factor and the INEC partisan approach to the poll playing themselves out? Whoever concluded (with a definitive position favourable to ours) that the reverse would not have been the case in a different electoral atmosphere devoid of intimidation, thuggery and wanton manipulation by the electoral umpires?

Yar’Adua could have been defeated possibly with the right level-playing field provided! On the other hand he could have won — all is open to imagination and guess work.

Faced with a health profile that is not as sound as should be (one that is conveniently kept secret) and with a huge task at stake still waiting President Yar’Adua’s attention it is doubtful if anyone would love to be in his shoes. But given presidential prerogatives and awesome powers at his disposal one bets that the Katsina man is enjoying his position as the Commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Yet if I were the President I would have since increased the pace of my administration; I would have abandoned the tortoise-type speed and embraced the antelope kind of speed. If I were Yar’Adua I would have since taken heed of the Gani Fawehinmi challenge by declaring my health condition, that is, telling Nigerians what ails me. Whether it is related to kidney as many Nigerians suspect or cancer or whatever keeping his health condition secret gives room for speculations which are not good for the health of his presidency.

If I were the President of the federal republic of Nigeria I would have since paused and asked myself crucial questions about the German doctors that supervise my health and the hospital in Wiesbaden Germany in which they work: did the doctors get their training from the moon or in heaven or here on earth? Is the hospital itself built by men or spirits from above? And if the answers are what we all assume to be true, the handiwork of men, then I would deploy resources to build such reputable hospital of excellence in any Nigerian city and train the Nigerian doctors of high professional pedigree to man same — so that delicate health cases such as mine could be treated with dispatch back home.

Obasanjo never cared much about our doctors or hospitals because he believes more in native doctors and ‘agbo’ herbal concotions. Nothing less is expected from a rich farmer of high pedigree!

If I were President Yar’Adua I would have since kept the promises made on my inauguration (or is it coronation?) day speech: declaring a state of emergency in the energy sector and summoning the Niger Delta stakeholders’ general parley. Today Niger Delta region still boils and the power situation is still very much paralytic! Yet the centrality of electricity supply to all spheres of our existence cannot be disputed. Neither can we possibly neglect the millions of barrels of crude oil pumped daily from the creeks and polluted lands of Niger Delta.

If I were him as the President of the African giant I would concentrate on one major project at a given time making sure that the kind of NIPP power scandal never happens again. Trying to solve many problems at the same time breeds confusion and in the end no tangible result could ever be achieved.

If I were Yar’Adua in his presidential excellency I would call my wife, the first lady, to order immediately, marriage sentiments aside. Going by recent troubling revelations Turai Yar’Adua is ambitious, powerful, power-hungry and marabout-loving. I would insist that she emulates not the bad precedents set by Mariam Babangida and Mariam Abacha.

President Yar’Adua is a devout muslim and his faith permits multiple marriage and occultism. But if General Abacha whose tyranny claimed his elder brother, Shehu Musa,

could shamefully be eliminated when a horde of marabouts from different neighbouring backward countries were at his beck and call then it stands to reason that there is a Supreme Force intervening in the affairs of mere mortals that we are. Turai Yar’Adua must therefore be made to owe allegiance only to this Supreme Being. In that sense the beautiful articulate first lady would come to her senses and realise that all is vanity — vanity upon vanity ultimately!

If I were President Yar’Adua finally I would consider stunning the outside world as I mark my one year in the saddle by renouncing my illegitimate mandate! I would make history as the first Nigerian leader to do so based on my incapacitating state of health and the Obasanjo connection in my coronation.

While wishing President Yar’Adua well as he soon celebrates his 365 days in office I demand respectfully however that he ponders over my suggestions. Long live the squash-playing Mallam!

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