Yar’adua and His Sickness

Extreme hypocrisy is far too common to take note of every time one sees it, but sometimes it is so jaw-dropping that it can’t be ignored. A remarkably petulant column in the national dailies last week is a prime example. Some Nigerians were asking Mr. President to disclose his medical records. The public does not like you to mislead or represent yourself to be something you’re not. And the other thing that the public really does like is the self-examination to say, you know, I’m not perfect. I’m just like you.

But the far more significant aspect of this whole spectacle is that the writers– of all people — have the audacity to publish a lecture on the grave harms of hatred towards the health condition of Mr. President. This is the Editorial Page that, throughout last year, did more to infect and degrade our public discourse than anyone this side of democratic regime. But the writers were actually far worse than this administration, because they put a stamp of establishment journalistic credibility on those rancid dirt-mongers, elevating them to the realm of the credible and influential. Entire editorials could be written on the defamatory filth disseminated by the writers throughout.

But in light of nation’s self-involved civility sermon last week, it is worth reminding ourselves of just some of the profound hate-mongering and truly deranged accusations that regularly spewed from those same pages during the Yar’Adua presidency.

According to Ann Richards, people don’t ask their public officials to be perfect. They just ask them to be smart, truthful, honest, and show a modicum of good sense. The entire nation has been in frenzy…Its funny how one event can change a lot of permutations…Nigeria and her leaders indeed beat sane imagination.

Certain data, such as tax and medical records, customarily emerge once the ruling party nominee was selected. But with important choices having already been made in the country as an important one in the presidential race, it’s time for full foreclosure.

Last week the presidency told some news reporters that President Yar’Adua was in fine health. Under the trained eye of prominent Nigerians within the State house Abuja, the President paddles in the Aso Rock strolling for 30 minutes practically every day between 5:30p.m and 6 p. m.

Some people began to take anxious note of the haggard lines that seventeen terrific months in office have left on the President’s face. The smile is as bright as ever but the flesh has aged perceptibly. It seemed colds have caused the President most of his trouble. Last June he was forced to remain indoors for two days with a congested nose and sore throat. In July a slight cold helped him lose two of the seven pounds which he had picked up during his Asia vacation. In August another head cold and touch of fever again confined him to bed & study, and left a hangover which required a weekend in the sun aboard the Sequoia to eradicate. Last time that he was indisposed was late in April, when he went to bed with what he called the “sniffles.” Since then he has been taking sunlamp treatments.

Is it that if someone has a health problem, then it makes that person unfit to hold office? Unbeknownst to many Nigerians, several presidents have been ill. This did not stop them from governing efficiently: Some of America’s earliest leaders — George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor — contacted numerous diseases, including dysentery, malaria and what could have been cholera or typhoid fever. Abraham Lincoln suffered bouts of depression, but he succeeded in keeping the Union together and in addressing the issue of slavery through the Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921 and was confined to metal braces and a wheelchair. Did his physical handicap make him unfit to be president? Umaru Yar’Adua would be considered by many historians as an exceptional president.

Nigerians should be more concerned about our president’s solutions, character and morality than his health. Animosity towards Yar’Adua is based almost exclusively on the policies he has implemented as President. These writers, all but acknowledges this, as the social events that have so upset them primarily involved a defense for Mr. President’s policies and strong reactions from critics — little things like starting anti-graft war based on false pretenses, introducing torture to our country, spying on Nigerians in violation of our laws, etc. Indeed, they describe the claims of the anti-Yar’Adua panelists who were mean to tarnish him this way.

Mr. President should not discount his power to shape outcome of sick-day battle. It is obvious that the sick-day mandate proposed for him would be terrible for business and job creation in the country. He has acknowledged as much. That’s why his action on this issue will be one of the most profound tests of his leadership.

Last week, a union-led coalition submitted petitions to the national assembly to add the State-House Family Healthy bill to the floor. If the law-makers approve it, all the officials of the presidency or more the head of service of the federation will be required to provide seven paid sick days a year to the presidency.

Nigeria, which ranks 5th among African nations, needs a blueprint for quality health care delivery cannot stand another health policy, yet here it is. This is an enormously expensive, complicated mandate. If it passes, the country would be the only nation in Africa that mandates sick leave. That would be like a hale droplet flashing to the global health sector: Don’t bring your fluke and ill-health here. Take them next door to Somalia, Lesotho, Sudan or Burkina Faso.

A cross section of Nigerians I spoke with really had no problem with the man other than the fact that he was handpicked by Chief Obasanjo, no one could really say that this man was a thief or stole like his contemporaries, but trust Nigerians we always have reasons to pick holes…For a man that always had left-over in state coffers it does not mean he did not perform.

Well I am least perturbed because for all we say and all we care the men in black robes and umbrellas have already perfected the act of fooling us. Whatever that means the truth sometimes in Nigeria is not the fact, however either way we calculate.

Nigeria is sick, very sick, I pray Yar’Adua should not die, there is likely to be a push in “power-gamblers” for interim government which is at the risk of military come-back, or the PDP will play chess with his replacement, will it remain a Northerner or what will the equation be, certainly not Dr. Goodluck despite all his luck and if we factor in the known.

It is speculative but in the long run we may be again toying with an annulled election only that this time we may not be able to just sweep it under the carpet as free and fair because indeed it will not be free and fair.

I am not a Yar’Adua supporter, nor do I root for PDP…to me the AC, is an air-conditioner without compressor. For and to all intent all the parties are sick, Buhari has not told us how he hopes to contain the corrupt elements that make up the ANPP, should the Supreme Court act otherwise. This is part of which suffered his wrath during his first reign.

Who amongst the very top botchers in our politics is healthy, we forget so soon that ex-president almost died mid way into his tenure, but he did not die…whether it is his liver, kidney, or stomach with all the money they can buy replacements at short notice. Nigeria itself is sick and the truth is that we really can get replacements and good ones at that and at short notice too but we lack the will to go for it.

I am displeased once again, about going to Saudi Arabia for medical support rather than giving the home nation a medical beef-up, as if a coincidence, that a man “voted” President, all things working PDP’s way sought to do a routine check in Germany, and then Saudi Arabia while the nation’s doctors and hospitals were have no well-equipped place and well-train physicians, and we talk of continuing the good works of ex-president Obasanjo, suffice to tame democracy…sad story of our existence.

What happens to the millions of Nigeria that cannot afford routine Paracetamol, millions that rely on self-medication and more millions that have become herbal medicine freaks?

Watched on television the rented crowd that awaited the PDP flag bearers during their re-run elections and all I saw was a nation of sick citizenry, in the temporary sickness. During the 2007 presidential poll warm-up, some were even floating IBB’s name, and if this is not sickening, only Nigerians know what more can be sickening.

What is the price of truth in Nigeria, our media engage in yellow journalism or better still outright lies are told in the name of breaking news or our sources in Kampala, run campaign for Obama here in Nigeria and even cover “shadow” fundraising ceremony instead of meeting the campaign train there in the United States. Despite Western propaganda, they were careful not to report speculations, but we…with our “trusted sources” we flew to bed, with all sorts of “those close” unconfirmed and uncomfortable nonsense.

We tend to even give out ourselves cheaply to leadership manipulation by our reactions, which are often misplaced emotional ranting. This maybe rather harsh but it helps leadership to know how best to fly their kite, where, when and how to adjust to our whims and caprices, we loose at the end either ways.

Are we not sick…? We have to face it that whatever side of the coin, we are in trouble, whether Yar’Adua is sick, or his organ has or will fail, Nigeria is the story of Yar’Adua’s health, good in places, bad in vital places, may pack up, may end up not packing up…but there are warning signs, they may be wrong and we hope they are not right.

Of the 36 ex-Governors, only 6 has not traveled out for medical, some have even gone for the frivolous, while the rest have from acute asthma, intense migraine, stomach adjustment, pocket realignment, pimples, facials to irresistible stealing hands syndrome.

Tell me a Nigerian that is not sick, sick from lack of electricity, water, good roads, quality education and improved healthcare facility. These are the ones we can lay hands on; we forget the school fees, bills for unavailable utility, frustration of inadequacies which all result in abnormal blood pressure.

The rest are up there…they are sick, very, very sick, they have lost their conscience, they lie truthfully, and they have turned red into blue that is they cannot tell us in any Nigerian Language what the problem is with Yar’Adua yet the Naira notes featured. Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

We all know that the three pillars of health are diet, exercise and sleep, and, sometimes, people forget about the importance of sleep, Mr. President should be granted wide sick-leave instead of leave-pressure.

I agree there is still something yet in the nation we can rectify rather than the president’s affairs. What’s panic for! The constitution is there, Jonathan is there, the National Assembly work round the clock. What would happen, assuming they were completely dissolved? Go to court! Some would be asked, but if they were not honoured in the law court, then the constitution is there for? Is it a “Cosmetic” decoration instead of cynic declaration or what?

For people who claim to believe in the rule of law and the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, it’s hard for me to contemplate why the entire hullabaloo. There is currently an anti-Yar’Adua government in the nation’s politics. All they have to do is prove to Nigerians beyond reasonable doubt that Yar’Adua was directly or indirectly unholy “period!” Most readers have heard the rumour that Mr.President was involved in nasty deals but posterity will prove him well. We may believe this or we can wait for it to be proven in due course!

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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