‘Power tends to corrupt; absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely’. That was what eminent Professor of Jurisprudence Isaac Oluwole Agbede taught us some years back in Ibadan. His position is a slight alteration but a sharp deviation from the popular saying that ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Agbede’s example of an exception to the rule is the great man Nelson Mandela. I need not go into further details on our man Nelson. The fact speaks for itself.
How great a lesson one has learnt in the events of the last six months or so in our very interesting country, Nigeria? The facts were very straight forward. Our late President was sick. Nothing is new in that. In fact it wasn’t the first time he was sick. He had been perennially ill from when he was the Governor of Katsina State and he preferred to seek medical treatment abroad. His last sojourn however took a different twist; he stayed outside for longer than expected. One spoilt brat tried to blow up a plane in the US and then all hell broke loose. Schemes and plots and cabals emerged. Various agenda both hidden and blatant were tabled, discussed and conjured. Alas! The great man himself was oblivious of happenings around him. There was nobody to sign neither the budget nor anyone to put the US in their place as we were being bashed all over the international media. All sorts of rubbish got flung at Nigeria. Then when it became obvious that Nigeria’s listing ship might not survive the brouhaha, and painfully we had to appoint a new helmsman to steer us to safety, his wife packaged the poor old man and flew him in like a DHL parcel in the dead of the night. She did this with the help of the security chiefs right under the nose of the ‘new Commander-In-Chief’ and he never knew!
Under different circumstances, could there have been a few traits in this woman that might have been a virtue? I leave you to conclude. Did she want her husband to be in power for the good of our country? No. She wanted him in power but it was for her own sake. A friend’s sister said Nigeria underestimated her because of her ‘kunu-seller’ looks. Quiet, seemingly harmless, seen but not heard. She once again confirms what they say about the quiet ones. Still waters run deep. There must be some hunger for power in a woman that allows two of her daughters to be subsequent wives to serving Governors. It seems as if she was trying to build an alternative political dynasty to that which the late Sheu Yar’Adua had laid down in Katsina. And why was she trying to undermine the office and powers of the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief? If I were to have had access to Mrs. Yar’Adua, I would have advised her differently. As soon as things were going upside down in Saudi Arabia and the whole country was going restive in Nigeria she ought to have brought her husband back home and gone to the Vice-President. All she had to say was ‘Oga, your brother no well o! I don’t know if he will survive this sickness.’ What do we do? He can’t sign the letter to transmit power to you, because he is not conscious. He cannot recognise anybody.’ I am sure the ‘brotherly Nigerian spirit’ in Goodluck Jonathan would have awakened and he would have known how to resolve the situation better.
For one, our late President could have had the best medical care in our country. The University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan is unrivalled in medical expertise and excellence. An intensive care unit could have been equipped to the highest standard in the world for Yar’Adua over there. Even the National Hospital Abuja would have benefitted if the late gentleman had been hospitalised there. There would have been no stalemate in the polity with all manner of legal interpretation coming out from all persons of various shades and hue. But can we blame them? The Attorney-General of the Federation had compromised his position has the foremost legal brain of the executive. His every utterance seemed desired to frustrate the voice of reason and to thwart the natural progression of due process which would have allowed the erstwhile Vice-President to step in and breathe life into a Nigeria that was dying slowly.
Secondly, she would not have been the object of so much ridicule, hatred and division in the extended Yar’Adua family and the nation as a whole. If what we read in the papers is true, tell me, what kind of a wife keeps her husband’s mother away from seeing her son until a few days before ‘he died’? What was Mrs. Yar’Adua’s aim when she summoned some Alfas and Reverends to the Presidential Lodge yet the Acting President nor the Senate President could see him? What was this woman playing at? You can imagine how the country looked before the international community when Goodluck Jonathan had to disclose to Christiane Amanpour of the CNN that neither he nor senior government officials had been able to see the poor man. I think after that US trip, Turai herself must have weighed her options and finally realised that the game was up. It was time to put off the life support machine. The implication of soldiering on would be that either she liked it or not, as the country prepared for the forthcoming elections of 2011 she would have had a serious time-bomb ready to blow off right on her laps. She would have had to surrender the man to the nation and to the political party as hale and hearty for them to secure another term in Aso Rock. She couldn’t have expected Goodluck Jonathan to have continued to be running mate nor campaign nationwide for a man he had not seen. In fact there can be no campaign because the man as we heard had become mentally and physically incapacitated. Or she would have had to vacate the Presidential quarters with the problem of how to care for the man on her hands. Where would she hide him that would be as comfortable or secure as the Villa? Certainly not in Funtua! And how long would she be able to defy the Yar’Adua family from seeing their son or his other political associates when she is no longer able to use the Brigade of Guards to cordon everyone off?
Therein lays the irony in the folly of the so called ‘power of a woman’. The power can only be exercised with joy and peace of mind when it is used to nurture and bear good fruits. The power that builds bridges and consolidates relationships is the one that is desirable. Not the power that destroys the home or the nation. Of what use is the power of this woman, when death the ultimate leveller of all fate and destiny rendered her powerless. Not because she was the one who died, but that the very man whom she ‘abused’ in her position as his spouse was granted eternal rest by his creator. Turai subjected our late President to torture and degrading treatment. It was a perfect example of man’s (in this case woman’s) inhumanity to his fellow man. Of what use is the power of a woman when she will not allow the poor man to die with dignity? Of what use is the power of a woman when all she tried to do was knock heads together, destabilise the security of the nation and she was still out-witted? Nigerians through our representatives decided that it was a ‘necessity’ for us to have a leader who was active, energetic and alert. The power of a woman eventually bowed down to the ‘doctrine of necessity’. Shikena!
On a slightly different note, I read with dismay last Wednesday in the Guardian newspaper that the National Assembly have refused to endorse Option A4 and a biometric/electronic system of voting. This is why we make a laughing stock of ourselves as a nation everywhere we go in the world. We shy away from addressing change fundamentally. What have the Representatives, Senators; Governors et cetera got to lose if the issue of making electoral votes count is addressed? Yes, the majority of them tend to lose their seat because rigging of votes will become a thing of the past. And if an elected person does not perform creditably in one dispensation, he can tru
ly be booted out by the voters the next elections. It is a shame and irony to see Nigerian professionals set wonderful precedents in politics, law, and medicine, peacekeeping and other fields abroad but at home we are in shambles.
Rest in Peace Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. You have done your bit and left us to it. Sleep well brother, you deserve to rest.