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Should Yar Adua Go For A Second Term?

By Daniel Elombah

The buzz the penultimate week is that Yar’Adua is going on vacation. If we are going to believe Saharareporters, this is a bald faced u-turn from a planned medical treatment in the United States as a result of reports of plots by politically ambitious persons.

Meanwhile, the president’s overseas responsibilities is being met by the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, whom we learnt arrived Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia for the 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.


Jonathan, who is leader of delegation, is also representing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua at the African Union Summit. The VP will also attend the 20th Summit of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee as well as the 10th Summit of the African Peer Review Forum of participating Heads of State and Government. He is also billed to attend a meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UN ECA, where effects of the global economic crisis on Africa will be discussed and resolutions made.

What a heavy schedule. That a man who is trusted to do these is found unfit to be handed over the reins of governance in the absence of the president is baffling. If he could perform international obligations on behalf of the president, why would he be found wanting in the domestic arena? Or could it be part of the intrigues by the hawks in the Presidency not to allow a formal handover to the Vice President, so that he does not constitutionally assume full responsibility? What are they afraid of?

But, this is not the remit of this article; I am more concerned with the health of our president and its implication for our country. Especially in view of Saharareporters saying again that “Contrary to tales by moonlight that he was taking a vacation and would spend it visiting the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross Rivers State, as well as his home state of Katsina and Dodan Barracks in Lagos, Umaru Yar' Adua is reportedly still in the trenches in the Aso Rock Villa”.

It is regrettable that when former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, decided he must make a choice of who to succeed him at Aso Villa, he decided to impose on the PDP and the nation, a man said to be battling with a very serious ill-health. In so doing, Obasanjo was not only being unfair to Yar' Adua himself, but demonstrated utter contempt for Nigerians.

I would not blame Yar’ Adua for accepting to “serve”, because according to another reluctant former president, Shehu Shagari and his idol, Othman Dan Fodio, "whoever the community itself asks to lead was duty bound to accept the invitation".

It was only Jesus Christ whom we read rejected,” all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”, when offered to him to on a platter of gold. Obviously, Christ is no hero to Yar Adua.

However, after all the “Umoru, Umoru, are you there”? After all the “challenge to a game of squash”; the chickens have come home to roost.

Yar Adua’s tenure has been dogged by fears for the state of his health. And it is Nigerians that have lived through so much uncertainty, largely because this president does not inspire confidence, both in terms of his preparations for the job at the presidency and his capacity to carry the heavy load of leadership.

Even at the best of times, to be the president of a country like Nigeria is no mean task:

Firstly, as the chief executive, he chairs the cabinet and other executive bodies. He was also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He performs a policy strategic function, being the only person with the authority to define and co-ordinate the policies and of all government ministry under his control.

-But under this administration, ministers complain of not having access to their president.

Secondly, he is the head of state, with the whole country as his constituency. He visits all the states of the federation. The president embodies national ideals and gives expression to the national interest. He determines and conducts the foreign policy. At the same time, he is the party' leading spirit and the main vehicle for realizing its policy objectives.

-When will Yar’ Adua embark on the traditional 36 state visit? How many national projects has he commissioned in the past two years? When will Yar’ Adua engage with Nigerians in Diaspora during his international travels?

Finally, he is the image maker of both the government and his political party. He delivers speeches at various fora, receive visitors, and undertake visits both at home and abroad. He must exhibit powers of leadership and at the same time, be in touch with voters.

-Where are Yar’ Adua’s’ weekly radio address? When was his last world press conference or even an ordinary interview? Even under Obasanjo, we had his monthly, ‘the president explains’, and Obasanjo was not afraid to take questions from journalists even when he gets cantankerous in the process.

Confronted often with vicious opponents from opposing parties and vested interests, with a federal arrangement and independent governors and a coalition of diverse interests and opinions, the Nigerian presidential system is very cumbersome. No one can bear the presidential burden unless he is healthy, full of stamina and intellectually agile.

-We are yet to experience Yar’ Adua’s trouble shooting ability – whether it is the Jos crisis, the Niger Delta or in the PDP’s intra-party squabbles.

Yar’ Adua must have discovered that The Constitution "gave the president superficial powers but denied him the means of exercising such powers except with tears and sweat".

Apart from the multitude of institutional constraints, the president is sometimes faced with a virulent and hostile opposition in and outside the legislature, the opposition parties, the state governments (like in the case of governor Jonah Jang), the civil service, power brokers and vested interests within your own party and the rest of the country, ethnic champions and militants, the armed forces and even the university students, organised labour and market women.

Where our nation has been cut adrift on a listing ship, rudderless, is it any wonder that the national economy is about to experience a ship wreck! The stock exchange has collapsed. The value of our Naira is in meltdown.

Other parts of the world are also in economic trouble. But someone is talking to them; explaining and mapping out strategies for tackling the problem. In Iceland, the economic crisis has caused the Prime Minister to resign. Why have no one explained to me why my Access Bank shares, bought at 15.00 naira per share 2 years ago, are now trading at 3.72?

Take a look at this sample Stock Market Watch for the week


Opening price this year

Closing price this week


First Bank PLC




Access Bank PLC








Oceanic Bank PLC




Union Bank PLC




This is a simple illustration of the magnitude of the problem we are facing. According to the Business Monitor International, worse is yet to come.

The world economy is in recession and tottering on the brink of disaster; Oil glut, massive financial losses, collapsing companies adds to the woes. In Eastern Europe and China, there are demonstrations and rioting at the losses. All the worlds’ leaders are putting their best feet forward. Most are gathered in Davos right now looking for a solution.  

But what are we doing in Nigeria? Engaging in squabbles about the constitutionality of a sick president notifying the National Assembly before going on vacation! Have we got no shame?

The Nigerian Labour Congress is calling for Charles Soludo, the Central Bank governor, and Rilwanu Lukman, the Petroleum Minister to be sacked. I say, sack Yar Adua!

This is a moment that calls for dynamic leadership. In fact, the question is not whether Yar Adua should go for a second term but whether he should resign; can we really afford a sick president?

Sometime ago, President Yar’ Adua slipped out to Germany, to consult with his doctors. The secrecy as well as the serious political consequences which might follow the permanent incapacitation of Nigeria's president raised the nation’s political temperatures. This regime has refused to learn any lessons about the place of openness in a democratic political setting.

Even under the military government of General Babangida, his state of health, and subsequent hospitalization in France, was very well-handled, empathy was generated and sustained, while Babangida was out of the country for about a month!

But the manner of Yar Adua’s governance bespoke weakness. He appears hostage to some forces beyond his control. He seems afraid of his shadows. Unfortunately, this only makes him appear vulnerable.


He only ends up supplying ammunition to his detractors. In the absence of contrary information, we tend to believe Sahara reporters when they tell us he is in fact hiding in Aso Rock when he claims to be resting and/or engaging in intellectual exercise at Obudu Ranch.

It is absolutely important to emphatically state the fact that Malam Umaru Yar'adua is not just the husband of Turai or just the father of her children; he is no longer the governor of a backward Katsina State. He is the president of a country of about 150million people therefore the paradigms of relationship must be different.

The machinery of government as it presently is, cannot deliver on any of the promises made to the Nigerian people; certainly not on the 6 point agenda. Tentativeness, policy flip-flops, ill-defined policies, are the hallmarks of this administration; the regime does not seem to know what direction to pursue; even the ordinary process of cabinet reshuffle and appointments gives him massive headache!

Nigerians are very empathetic. In fact, we take delight in paying penance for our tormentors. We prostrate before the big man that stole the money for our local hospital and hail him ranka dede. We smile and pray for his long life and his good fortune. We hail his ability to escape the rot around him and enjoy the best medical treatment abroad, take his family on summer holidays and purchase the best pastors or imam.

That could be why almost everyone is silent and dying in silence. Out of pity, we give him the benefit of the doubt. But for Saharareporters, how could we know the farce that goes for governance and the charlatans that surrounds the presidency? All the major news media have gone to sleep.

Thus it could actually benefit Yar’ Adua to be very open with his sickness. Is he going on a sick leave? Let him tell us. Does he need to travel abroad for his treatment, we would pray for his safe return. Is he getting better or worse? We would pray for his speedy recovery. Is his treatment getting more expensive? We would contribute our widows’ mite.

All we only ask for is that he pretends to be doing his best for us. Show some appearance of some governmental activity. Enunciate good paper policies and employ good managers. In short, show us some respect. Demonstrate that he cares.

Nigeria itself is on life support, and unfortunately, a sick president Umaru Yar’ Adua has proved to be far too infirm to provide the leadership which a very sick nation thoroughly deserves.

Yar Adua appears to have abandoned the ship of governance to a band of looters. He appointed former governors as ministers, and made Tony Anenih chairman of NPA. What more would we expect - An Orji Uzor Kalu as head of government business and investments?

As one writer puts it: “The confusion in the process of governance; a president that is clearly not at grips with the enormity of the tasks of governance; a party system that is hopelessly corrupt; a political elite with bandit proclivities and lacking in a sense of history; a thoroughly disenchanted nation that is being led to perdition; Mallam Yar’ Adua’s ill-health and the contemptuous disrespect for the citizenry; all help to compound the state of crisis which Nigeria faces. It is obvious that the political elite and its presidential arrow head, cannot take Nigeria off life support. The days ahead do not give room for much optimism”!

Some of us now look back at 2007 and wonder; are we seeing the real Yar Adua that was sold to us: The incorruptible trend bucker who is not of afraid of being the only man standing, a man of conviction, Chemistry graduate and university teacher. Is that it?

Two years after assuming the mantle of leadership, President Yar Adua must now pause and ask himself; should I carry on?

The decision whether to carry on is Yar Adua’s to make. But he should conscientiously examine himself and answer this question: is his performance so far the best he has got to offer? In view of his performance this past 2 years, is his health an encumbrance to the performance of his lawful duties? Shouldn’t he honourably resign?


Life is greater than wealth. This is a duty he owes himself, his family and the nation.

by Daniel Elombah



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