President Shehu Yar'Adua: Matters Arising

Politics apart, President Shehu Yar’Adua deserves our empathy and prayer at this crucial time of his life in the spirit of brotherhood and nation building. My prayer to God is to touch his infirmity, and quicken that which is failing or dead in his body with the power of resurrection – in Jesus name, (Amen).

The president, regardless of the circumstances of his ascendance to office, has submitted himself to serve his fatherland amidst the alternating imbroglio of chaos and confusion. He is the number one public officer, legally elected to office to execute and direct governmental functions. He therefore deserves our support in all ramifications. While we all enjoy our lives and privacy (and we have right to it anyway), Mr. President continues to think and brainstorm( at least expectedly) with his cabinets and advisers on how to move the nation forward by resolving the nation’s socio-political and economic problems. In this regard, it is not only rational to prevent political and ideological differences from maligning our sense of decency and humanity; it should not prevent us from being our brothers keeper.

While the president and his cohorts has unwittingly trivialized the genuine concerns of the public about his health, the populace should not descend to the level of sounding lackadaisical. As the President of Nigeria, his interests, his life and death must be pertinent in our heart. Since his wellbeing, welfare and security are funded with the tax payers money; the totality of his life, as a matter of fact should be made a matter for public consumption except that part which deals with sexuality and faith.

It need be said that this write-up is not an attempt to underscore the need for the president’s privacy, instead, it is an attempt to assert the right of Nigerians to know the physical, the mental and the emotional well being of their president.

The life of any public officer can broadly be divided into three phrases; (1) Public life which encompasses whatever the individual does in the course of performing his/her duties as determined by the constitution or the statutory instrument that create such office. (2) Private life: this covers the areas of life around individual’s faith and sexuality. It is usually not a matter for public consumption unless the person concerned (public officer) approve of it; and (3) the Undisclosed; this is the mixture of part of the public and the private life styles that the public officer choose not to disclose to the public. This jurisdiction often implies values and ethics. It is usually respected and kept sacred by the public until the public office holder brake or violate the associated societal values or the implicit ethics.

It is with the third version that I would discuss the President Yar’Adua’s ailment and the concerns which it has generated among Nigerians within and outside the country. As the number one citizen, the totality of his life is the concern of the nation. His life and death could therefore not be taken away from the public glare. The president’s popularity might be restricted to his political zone and others who either benefits from his administration or those who take advantage of his regime’s naivety. Yet, as the president, he represents Nigeria not a section thereof or a tribe within. He is not the Sadauna of the Islamic Republic of Arewa, neither is he the Olu-aye of the Oduduwa kingdom nor the Eze of Biafra nation.

If Mr. President who lives in public house (Aso-rock), eat the food that were procured with tax payers money, chauffeurs in official cars and jet that were bought with public tax, enjoyed the services of specially trained security personnels that are paid from the nation’s treasury, and whose health and wellness are been maintained with the public funds will decide to make “private” what should be in the public coffer, then his judgment is not only illogical it is counter intuitive.

Disclosing the state of health of Mr. President does not equal ridicule neither is it a violation of his right to medical / health information privacy. The rationale is to afford Nigerians the opportunity to know what is going on with their president and to determine the level and the nature of support that they could offer, be it spiritual or otherwise. President’s sickness is not a news, after all, he is a human being, but the fact that he was secretive about the nature and severity of his physical and medical conditions paved way for suspicions that led to several innuendo; even among his political associates who all of a sudden took advantage of the president’s sickness and unveiled their political ambition. As the citizen of Nigeria, our president owe it a duty to disclose his health baggage to the nation. It is ludicrous to spend the tax payers money for medical treatment in different foreign countries for an ailments that he had to be forced to disclose at the last minute. This to say the least, amount to betrayal of trust and negation of the principle of transparency.

Now that it is obvious that President Yar’Adua’s sickness has significantly weakened and impaired his ability to continue his constitutional functions, for instance, the president’s ailment has taken him away from been able to chair the meetings of the National Council of States, delayed his ability to work on and present the 2010 fiscal budget to the National assembly, deprived him of the mental alacrity needed to check and control the excess of some members of his cabinet especially the Attorney General and the Chairman of EFCC who had been on each others throat on the issues relating to policy interpretations, inability to follow through and implement his 7 Points Political Agenda, etc. He therefore need to take a giant stride and delegate the power to his assistant – The Vice president (Dr. Jonathan Goodluck). There should be no “if”, “em” or “but” about this. The Chapter 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very explicit on the issues of succession. If any person or group of persons articulate anything different or advice the president to do anything contrary to the stipulation of the constitution, Mr. President should ignore such ignoble and counter progressive advice.

The President who has been severally described as a democrat should guide and defend this legacy even to death. The insinuations of Alhaji Abubakir Olusola Saraki (first Republic Senate Leader) and Dr. Godwin Dabo Adzua (Former PDP National Auditor & Current Director General of Solid Minerals Association of Nigeria) who disparagingly said that “the North was not ready to relinquish power till 2015”, should be considered as loud mouthy and preposterous. The reason for their disingenuous assertion stems from intra PDP agreement on presidency zoning. In as much as I do not have anything against the PDP zoning policy, my contention is that the prevailing circumstances should be addressed pro-actively. The way to do this is to follow the dictates of the constitution, which in any case is supreme and superceed any intra party agreement. If Mr President is still able to talk; he should use his strength ( if need be, his last breath) to educate these enemies of democracy and their likes about the supremacy of the constitution and the Rule of Law in a democratic state. Situation where the intra party agreement is prioritized over the constitution is dangerously inimical to the growth of democracy and the nation. Nigeria’s interest superceed any myopic political or individual agenda.

President Yar’Adua should refrain from the track of “sit tight”, “never-quit”, and “die in office” syndrome that is synonymous with African political leaders. Being indisposed, he should hand over the business of government to his able assistant, and therefore write his name among few African leaders who truly love their nations and seek its progress and stability. His delegation of power to the Vice President will attract a pass mark to this democratic litmus test and mark the beginning of a consciou

s effort at sustaining a formidable democratic institution as opposed to building a strong personality.

As for those political ignorants who have been vociferous and championing the call for President Yar’Adua’s misadventure, and especially Dr Godwin Dabo Adzua who was reported to have said “… even if Yar’Adua resigns or cannot continue in the office, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan cannot be President because we shall not relinquish power until 2015. The Northern caucus of the PDP will meet and another northerner will be chosen in a special PDP convention…” Let it be clear that Adzua’s loose talk and threat would not be allowed to cause crisis in Nigeria. Whoever and whatever interests he represents, it is evident that they are anarchists and self centered; interested only in what they can reap from the system. They are bunch of political profiteers who few months ago pretentiously clamored that 10th year anniversary of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria was worth celebrating. Now at the challenge of the prevailing circumstances, they sing a new song of democratic dissonance. The outcome of the democracy anniversary confirmed that they do not have the interest of the nation at heart. Their pocket is their interest. Post anniversary audit revealed wanton embezzlement, mismanagement and siphoning of the money voted for the “show” (Democracy Anniversary).

In the final analysis, while Nigerians look toward a crisis free transition of power from Shehu to Jonathan, The prospective president (if actually destined) should caution his gut and refrain from flammable statements; such as was credited to him and published in Vanguard Newspaper of Friday December 11, 2009 at the 49th National Executive Council meeting of the PDP that “…if angels were called from heaven to conduct elections in the country, PDP will win…” The V.P and his PDP should not be desperate to rule, especially if the voters indicate otherwise. If Vice President Goodluck is a good student of history, he will recall that during 1983 general election, the NPN made similar pronouncement (moon-slide victory), and the aftermath was Buhari/Idiagbon’s intervention. While I am not insinuating or advocating for a military intervention in case of any foul electoral practice, I want to make it clear that the lord who delivered Nigerians from the yoke of late General Sanni Abacha is still in the business of answering prayer; and whoever attempt to appeal Shango with Kolanut will not live to tell the tales. Nigerians had for so long been deprived of good government and good lives. This is the time to change the status quo of oppression and suppression. It is a clarion call and no one should feel unconcerned. God bless Nigeria.

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