Date Published: 12/03/09
YAR ADUA: TIME TO LET GO By Yakubu Ahmed BK
President Umaru Musa Yar Adua is a man I personally like; not because he is the President of the most endowed, most populous and most powerful black nation in the world. Regardless of the fact that he appeared to be overwhelmed by the seeming enormity and intractability of the problems bedevilling this country or that he is clearly at sea as to how to go about fixing the nation, I am nonetheless an ardent admirer of the president. Despite the challenges he has stoutly and gallantly contended with, despite the fact that he is seen all over the country as personally incorruptible and not given to materialistic inclinations, all indices pointed to the fact that his absence at critical moments in the country or at other very crucial international engagements, occasioned by his ill health is taking its toll on him and more importantly on the country.
There is no denying the fact that the country has suffered avoidable dislocations, tribulations and fear due mainly to the apprehension which the country has had to face. Rumours that have been flying around the state of his health, about his death and the unpalatable implication these rumours have had on the security, democracy and development of the country have all endangered various aspects of our evolution as a nation.
On several occasions, the government has been found wanting on the issue of responding appropriately to douse the tension and fear which has beclouded the country leading to very dangerous insinuations, all in their attempt to cover the truth about the seriousness of the president’s ill health. That the country was paying dearly for it in terms of astronomical rise in mindless acts of corruption and graft across board was immaterial to them. We all know that everyone in authority in the country today is taking advantage of Yar Adua’s absence and the helplessness of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan who has been denied presidential powers to deal with such anti-Nigeria infractions. Without presidential powers, Jonathan will be without powers to, for example sack a Minister. And the man with such powers is in far away Saudi Arabia battling with serious ill health to bother about the fate of the country. Yet, we all know that there is a constitutional leeway for the country to deal with this emergency and move on. Why no one is desirous of applying the provisions of the constitution to save the country from further failure of leadership beats our imagination and comprehension.
There is no doubt anymore that Yar Adua is incapable of running this country, and even if he and his kitchen cabinet members thought otherwise, we now have verifiable evidence that the man is incapacitated to run the country without bringing the wheels of governance to a halt. His endless visits to his doctors in Saudi Arabis and elsewhere, his failing health as evidenced in his frailness that assaults us on end, his unhealthy carriage and constant coughing on network television, the failed attempts to feign good health and now the confirmation of our worst fear by the Saudi hospital have convinced us Nigerians that no matter how much we love this man and no matter how much we want him to cling to his seat, the fact remains that the country can ill afford tying itself to a seriously sick man who is more likely to compound our problems than solve them. There are indications already that Nigeria is on auto pilot with every minister or permanent secretary, their hangers on and their likes helping themselves to our common patrimony in the full knowledge that with Yar Adua out of the way, they are as safe as they come. Madam Waziri and the other man at the ICPC have their hands full; that is if they are not complicit in the craze to rape a nation that is down already. We have heard that some ministers became ministers by default, some have wars at home to fight, others paid their way through and each of them is eager to amass wealth in order to position himself to fight such local wars in preparation for the 2011 elections.
Section 144 (1) of the constitution of this country which deals with permanent incapacitation of the president or vice president has made room for what to do to ease either of them out. It says inter alia, ‘’the president or vice president shall cease to hold office if, (a) by a resolution passed by two thirds majority of all members of the executive council of the federation it is declared that the president or vice president is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and (b) the declaration is verified after such medical examination as may be necessary by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives. (2) where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the president or vice president is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives shall be published in the official gazette of the government of the federation. (3) The president or vice president shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section. (4) the medical report to which this section relates shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria – (a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and (b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the president of the senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions
The in and out of sickness of Yar Adua and his failing health which is clear to all is suggestive of incapacitation and the above resort should long have been applied since it is clear that we just cannot afford the consequences of not doing so. I understand the sentiments attached to easing Yar Adua out of office, one of which is that if Jonathan takers over, the principles of the so-called rotation of power to a particular section will be defeated. We are also aware that certain greedy and self serving individuals from the North who have coveted this office have all girded their loins to take over, or to at least position themselves to take over in the spirit of that rotation policy. But who in the north cares or bothers anymore about who rule this country. What has any president of president of northern extraction done that has impacted in any positive way to the lives of the ordinary citizens. All that we have seen is the concentration of wealth around a particular class of people, their wives, children and concubines. So to the average northerner of today who is conscious of his environment, his unfortunate situation, an Odumegwu Ojukwu can as well become president for all we care. No man can do worse than an Obasanjo has done, in drafting and forcing a sick man on the nation and of the many other sins that have taken the North in particular and the nation in general backward. And all these anti-North and anti-Nigeria policies were pursued with the tacit collaboration of the same set of northern leaders that are today poised to use the northern sentimental card to corner power in the event of the inevitable happening.
The nocturnal attempts by a group of power hungry politicians to put their individual and groups interest above that of the nation have the potentials to plunge this country into serious chaos, the consequences of which cannot be quantified. The constitution is very clear on this and its provisions must be followed to the latter fairly, timely and consistently.
My position may not ram well with some people, but I am convinced that in the interest of Yar Adua in particular and the nation in general, the president should kindly let go, to attend to his failing health while the country moves on to greater heights. I am sure every Nigerian is currently on his knees beseeching God to intervene and give sound health to our president. But we must call a spade by no other name. It is time for Goodluck Jonathan to effectively take over the reins of government.
BK Ahmed, a public relations consultant contributed this piece from 114 Kashim Ibrahim road, Maiduguri. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07036659800