These questions should be some of the indices or yardstick that should be used not only to access ‘objectively’ Yaradua’s performance as governor, but his qualification to even vye for the presidency or become the president. The answers to these questions are very important because if Yaradua did not perform any magic for the indigenes of Katsina state within those 8 years that he was the governor, it’s obvious that he definitely can not perform any magic for 140 million people. It will be very naive of us to expect him to perform miracles for 140 million people within the 3 or 7 years left for him to serve. It will be very naive of us to expect him to fix our police force. It will be very naive of us to expect him to find a lasting, fair and acceptable solution to the crises in the Niger delta. It will be very naive of us to expect him to provide 140 million people with regular water and electricity. It will be very naive of us to expect him to revive our economy. It will be very naive of us to expect him to implement complex economic programs for the whole country. It will be very naive of us to expect him to conduct a very effective foreign policy. It will be very naive of us to expect him to take on the multinationals that has been polluting the Niger delta since oil exploration started. It will be very naive of us to expect him to engage in battles with the multinational oil companies for paying Nigeria peanuts for the previledge to drill oil in the Niger delta. The development of a country does not take place by magic or prayers. The development of a country requires good planning, vision, professionalism, hard work, competence and a team work.
However, what is most disappointing about Yaradua is that for 8 good years as the governor of Katsina state, he was unable to build just a single state of the art hospital that will cater for his ailment! As the president of Nigeria for 12 months, Yaradua still is not capable of building a single medical center to treat himself despite the fact that Nigeria has more than $45 billion in reserve! Such a hospital is not even in the pipe line! Instead of building state of the art hospital, and employing the best of the best of Nigerian doctors to run it, Yaradua prefers to shuttle to Germany in a big Boeing and entrust his life to German doctors!
It’s worth noting that more than fifteen thousand Nigerian medical experts operating in the U.S. alone rank not only among the best of the best in the world, but even the most demanding Americans are glad to entrust their lives to them. Even the Arab oil magnates consider it a previledge to be treated by Nigerian doctors. Nigerian medical practitioners are not only held in the highest esteem abroad but have also won uncountable number of international awards. Nevertheless, Yaradua does not consider any of these professionals qualified enough to treat him. He would rather waste billions of dollars of the Niger delta oil money flying to Germany to see German doctors than allow a highly qualified Nigerian doctor examine him. To add salt to injury, Yaradua, through his press secretary, publicly discredited Nigerian medical professionals by publicly announcing that the German doctors claimed that Nigerian doctors made a wrong diagnosis of his ailment. Ironically, to the best of my knowledge, Yaradua relies on these incompetent Nigerian doctors, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, scholars, bankers, engineers, consultants, e.t.c, and not German professionals to design and implement his Vision 2020 project. What a president!
According to an analysis just conducted by a Nigerian economist, the money that Yaradua has squandered on shuttling to Germany including his medical fees, lodging of his entourage, e.t.c. is more than enough to build and maintain a state of the art hospital in Nigeria that will cater for him and other highly placed public figures.
But, for a competent leader with vision, must it take the intervention of an economist to understand that it is much cheaper in the short and long run to build a modern hospital that will cater for his ailment in Nigeria than making endless trips to Germany? In addition, a president with vision must understand that for the security and prestige of the country, only Nigerian doctors should be entrusted with his health and life. Try to imagine George Bush flying to Germany to be treated by German doctors. Or, try to imagine even Israeli, South African, Indian, Venezuelan, Iranian, Cuban or Zimbabwean presidents respectively entrusting their health and lives in the hands of foreign doctors irrespective of their qualification. For God’s sake, if Yaradua does not understand even these basic things, and is incapable of resolving very trivial problem like building a hospital for himself to treat his ‘own’ ailment for 9 years in the capacity of governor and president, how do we expect him to solve all the enormous economic, political, social and military problems that Nigeria and Nigerians are facing? Since Yaradua was not prepared to be Nigeria’s president, it is not surprising that he is always running to the Germans for treatment; the British to fix his police; Americans to resolve the Niger delta crises; the Chinese to build rails; the Indians to build Petrochemical plants; the Malasians to build houses, the Lebanese to build roads. Yaradua is ready to run to anybody but not Nigerians to build Nigeria. All he tells the foreigners is to just name their price for solving his problem. Since he himself is a mediocre, it’s no surprising that he doubts the capability of Nigerians to provide solutions to the surmounting problems facing the country.
It’s really very unfortunate that 140 million Nigerians rely on a man who pays a nonchalant attitudes even to his own health to lead them not just out of the wilderness and poverty, but as well place Nigeria among the 20 richest countries in the world in the next 12 years! Isn’t this ridiculous?
Making endless trips to Germany for medical treatment is just one of many reasons to buttress my point that Yaradua is another incompetent and visionless leader from the north. Other reasons to prove the incompetence of Yaradua and his predecessors will be presented in details in the coming parts of my article titled “Leadership, decision making, the military, the north and development in Nigeria.” Finally, it is worth noting that Segun Osoba, the former governor of Ogun state, was quoted as saying that he simply could not recall Yaradua participating actively in any major discussions during the meetings of all governors, when Yaradua was presented by the PDP as her presidential flag bearer in the election. According to Osoba, Yaradua was always silent and sat aloof in those meetings. Yaradua, without any exaggeration, is Alhaji Shehu Shagari fast forwarded from 1983 to 2007!
2. POPULATION ADVANTAGE OF THE NORTH AND ETHNIC COMPOSITION OF NIGERIA.
The north, with a higher population; at least according to the just concluded census, than the south, will always have an advantage in electing or deciding whom the president of Nigeria will be. The fact that the population north is much higher than the two other major ethnic groups; the Yorubas and Ndigbos, is of strategic advantage in choosing the president.
3. EXPERIENCE IN POLITICS AND MANIPULATION.
The fact that practically all of Nigeria’s presidents from independence are from the north is another strategic advantage to ensuring their victory in future presidential elections because they know the political mechanism and structure of the country very well and are better connected to the power brokers or key politicians in the south.
4. TRIBALISM AND POLITICAL CONSERVATISM OF THE NORTH.
Tribalism is another serious impediment that will neither allow a southerner to emerge as the President nor choose a competent leader with vision. Nigeria, since independence has not only failed to transform into a nation, but is even more divided now than in 1960. What this tantamount to is that northerners will always vote for a presidential candidates from the north irrespective of his capability. Without a substantial votes of northerners, the chances of a presidential candidate from the south winning a presidential election is infinitesimal.
The 1979 presidential election is more than enough to support this thesis. Pa Awo and Zik, despite the fact both were obviously much experienced than Shehu Shagari, a former school teacher, nevertheless, emerged the winner in the presidential election. The fact that both Pa Awo and Zik were veteran politicians with excellent track records, and as well played very active roles in gaining independence for Nigeria, was not enough argument for the descendants of Othman Dan Fodio to cast their votes enmasse for either of them. Shagari emerged from no where and won the presidential election. The north would rather have a lame duck than from the north as president than competent southerners like Pa Awo or Zik.
At this juncture, it’s worth mentioning that the fact that Moshood Abiola emerged the winner of the June 12, 1992 presidential election against an opponent from the north was more of an exception than the norm. In statistics, we refer to such event as ‘outliers.’ Outliers in statistics is a situation influenced by extremely large or small values that may ‘distort’ the representative nature of the mean. Outliers are data or figures that seriously deviate from a set of data or figures within the same range or very small variance from the mean. Outliers could be compared to the ‘Gaussian noise’ in a communications transmission system that causes signal fluctuation or distortion. Therefore, in order to get a ‘noise free’ signal from the transmitter to the receiver, you have to pass it through a digital modulator which in this case is like a filter that separates the noise from the original signal that you want to transmit. Therefore, in statistical analysis, outliers are always ignored in order to calculate the average correctly and avoid significant deviation from the mean.
Nevertheless, if we are to analyse Abiola’s victory over Tofa ‘thoroughly,’ we will come to the conclusion that in actual fact, his victory was after all neither accidental nor a miracle. With handsight, Abiola’s victory could be explained. Some of the factors that led to his victory included the following:
a. Abiola’s wealth and very strong personality. Without any exaggeration, Abiola was not only a very wealthy business man, but was also a very strong personality in all sense of the word. He had an unusual charisma. He was a philanthropist who spent a substantial part of his wealth on on charity throughout the country, including the north. This philanthropic activities warmed him to the hearts of millions of Nigerians.
b. Religion and strong connection with the north. The fact that Abiola was a muslim played a major role in getting the votes of northerners. in addition, he had wined, dined and cut deals with the most powerful of the northern elites and power brokers – both civilians and retired military officers. Abiola was so popular in the north to the extent that he was honoured with different chieftancy titles by the northern monarchs.
c. Close relationship with Babangida. Abiola’s personal and business relationships with Babangida, who was then the head of state, was another major factor that opened the hearts of the northerners to him. Many northerners thought that since Abiola was Babangida’s buddy, they had nothing to worry about. They believed that Abiola would always protect the interest of the north.
d. The national reach of SDP. The Social Democratic Party (SDP), that Abiola was the presidential flag bearer, was formed on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Most of its founders and financiers were staunch members of the defunct NPN with strong political connection nation wide. This automatically gave SDP a national reach, which undoubtedly is a very big advantage.
e. The choice of Kingibe as running mate. With Kingibe, a northerner, beside Abiola, northern voters were even more assured that Abiola would not go against their interests. Kingibe, together with other northerners did their own part of the campaigning. If Abiola had chosen a southerner as his running mate, he would have certainly lost the election to Tofa.
f. Abiola’s connection in Nigeria. Abiola was a veteran of Nigerian politics. He knew the in and out. He knew all the movers and shakers of Nigerian politics. This factor contributed immensely into emerging as the flag bearer of SDP in a fierce contest. Emerging as the presidential candidate of such a formidable party was itself at least 40% guarantee of victory against Tofa.
g. Popularity in Yorubaland. Abiola’s strong popularity among his kinsmen, the Yorubas, was another equally important factor that led to his victory. Without this strong home base, it would have been difficult for Abiola to defeat a northern opponent.