Yar'adua's Costly Lagos Adventure

For those who parroted the sincere commitment of Umaru Yar’Adua to the rule of law, it is becoming obvious that the man and his government are more interested in how such empty sloganeering aids their political interests. It is becoming very difficult to extrapolate the clannish and very primitive political interests of Yar’Adua from many actions he takes in recent times. Whether it is his reluctance to do away with the noxious INEC cabal while at the same mouthing an empty and mischievous commitment to electoral reform, or habouring the elite crop of the country’s economic rapists while deferring to a surreal commitment to the tenets of anti-corruption, or even in sustaining acts that mock and deride his rule of law mantra, Yar’Adua is a study in paradox. He says something and goes out to act differently.

But of all his petty partisan mischief, his recent ill-advised letter to the Lagos State Governor to revert to 20 local councils and dissolve the 37 local council development areas stand out for how this president wants to cut political corners in a so-called federal government. I am beginning to believe that what informed Yar’Adua’s letter was the desire to arrest the fast-pace progress Lagos is making in recent times and align it with the drudgery, which Yar’Adua is imposing on the entire country. Some people have rightly seen the dubiety in the so-called letter and the sparse reasoning that informed it. So many others have read into that letter the notorious agenda to promote sectional and partisan interests and sadly, Yar’Adua seems well committed to both.

For those who might have lost track of this issue, Lagos, like many other states, including Umaru Yar’Adua’s Katsina, in adherence to the tenets of federalism, created additional local councils in the first lap of this woe-ridden dispensation. The Obasanjo government felt peeved in its awkward interpretation of the laws of the land and ordered the states to rescind this decision. Lagos refused, insisting it is within its purview, and having satisfied the letters of the law in creating local councils. Again, Lagos argued that with its population, it is entitled to more than the number of local governments that were imposed on it and went to court. The Obasanjo regime levied a war on Lagos State by withholding the statutory allocations accruing to the councils. The Lagos State government went to court and the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment had to rule that it was the constitutional rights of state governments to create local councils, that Lagos satisfied the constitutional requirements in creating the additional 37 local councils but that the councils so created are inchoate until the National Assembly listed them.

The Supreme Court was emphatic that the federal and state governments are independent tiers of government and that one does not super intend over the other and as such ruled as unconstitutional and illegal the withholding of the allocations of Lagos Councils by the Obasanjo regime, as it possess no such power in a federal arrangement. Dazed by that judgment and still blinded by its narrow partisan interests, the Obasanjo regime refused to budge. It went back to the Supreme Court for an interpretation of the judgment and the court was to turn it back with the stern pronouncement that its judgment was written in simple English and needs no such self-serving manipulation as Obasanjo and the PDP sought it to do. With the door shut against further pranks, Obasanjo and the PDP resorted to self-help as they embraced a shameless resort to illegality by holding fast to the allocation as that bestial regime tapered off into the black chapters of our woe-ridden national history. Even when Lagos bent back a bit to convert these new local councils into LCDAs, it never appeased the drunk god of Obasanjo and his PDP cabals. We must call to mind that it was on this same issue of illegally perverting the ruling pf the country’s highest court that the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais expressed public regret when he retired that he failed to commit Obasanjo to prison for glaringly subverting a Supreme Court ruling. Even as many saw that public confession as escapist, Nigerians believe that Yar’Adua’s present malicious adventure presents a ready challenge to the present justices of the apex court to prove that no one plays games with the courts and gets away Scot free.

It took the emergence of Yar’Adua amidst widespread criticism of his sordid emergence to revert this deliberate act of lawlessness and Lagos got its withheld allocations. One is at a great loss to understand what is Yar’Adua latest grouse with the additional LCDAs in Lagos, when he is not funding them. One is at a loss to understand what Yar’Adua ordinarily has against the decentralization of centers of development, when he is employing the faulty structure of Nigeria to deny Lagos its rightful patrimony in the sharing of the national cake. One is at a loss to grasp what patriotic intent is served by muffling the development of Lagos when Yar’Adua and his predecessor have turned their back to that economic nerve center. One is at a loss to understand this sudden resort to saber-rattling by a president whose only saving grace from the rising angst of Nigerians against his clearly incompetent leadership is his deceptive appeal to frailty and feebleness.

This leaves us with no other reason than this dirty desire to play the rotten card of the PDP in its desire to overwhelm Nigeria, not through superior statecraft but through vile, corrupt and dubious means. Simply, by his ill-advised letter to Governor Fashola, Yar’Adua wants to claim an additional enclave for his cabalistic party. He believes that the worldwide opprobrium that heralded his coming has steeped off and he can delve into newer adventures for additional territories for his party, which never tires from enacting dubious conquests. This is why what remains of his mischievous promise for electoral reforms is just the inane purring of his menservants while he directs his attention at seducing elected public officials from other parties to join his PDP.

But then, one would have expected that Yar’Adua should have been better advised on the tone, timing and ultimate goal of this adventure. At a time when he is warming the very depth of public opinion for his woeful performance, the least Yar’Adua would have dabbled into is provoking a conflict through which he would be eventually rubbished. At a time, the Niger Delta presents quite an intractable choice to his rudderless regime, the least one would have expected him to do is to decentralize the theaters of conflict and war through a clearly illegal move to earn political advantage. At a time the Nigerian State is embroiled in a degenerating meltdown, one would have expected Yar’Adua to keep his rabid political interests at bay and look for ways to salvage the sinking ship of state.

It is perilous that at a time when critical attention is needed to firm up leadership, Yar’Adua is inching deadly to partisan provinciality that thoroughly galls Nigerians who feel so unsafe and insecure under his lax watch and the rabid and asinine interests of his political party. However, I don’t believe that Yar’Adua needs be educated of the waterloo he stands to encounter in starting a needless and provocative war on a state like Lagos, especially under a clearly competent and focused leader and political platform. I don’t have any doubt that this war will unlatch the doors of full battle against not only Yar’Adua but the very ennui that straddles Nigeria for the past ten years. Nigerians will love this battle and they believe it gives them just enough space to fruitfully engage the very principalities that have devalued life so badly in a country that had reaped bountifully from nature in the past ten years. So let Yar’Adua and his greedy comrades in the PDP go on. We surely will love this last battle!

Written by
Peter Claver Oparah
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