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Date Published: 12/06/09

My prayer point for Yar'Adua By Fr. Emmanuel Ogundele


       The recent break down in the health condition of the president has elicited comments from different many Nigerians cutting across class, age, gender and ethnic affiliations. The point, I believe, is that anyone can be sick since we are all human beings. We all fall sick from time to time ranging from mild headaches to severe ones, stomach aches, malaria fever and so on. There is hardly anything one can do about it as it will happen when it is bound to happen. However, I find it very worrisome when the president of a big and severely troubled country like Nigeria goes for regular medical attention abroad all the time until the recent one that has given us a grave cause for concern. The fact is that everyone is aware that our president had life-threatening conditions before he presented himself for election and even while the presidential campaigns were on, he was rumoured to have died. In a country with deep seated problems as ours, we need not add speculations and concerns about the health of our president to an already very bad list.

       I sincerely believe that we should pray for our so-called leaders even if they do not live up to their responsibilities. St. Paul urged us to do this as it is part and parcel of our Christian obligations. Prayer is the raising up of our minds and hearts to God who has promised us to ask that we shall receive Mt.7:7. However, all human beings, nations and peoples are in need of prayers for different intentions and reasons. No matter what our intentions are, we cannot force God to do anything. While it is believed that God can do the impossible, we should not think or assume that we can bend his hand or manipulate him to hear our prayers. In a nation awash with Churches, Mosques and other places of worship, no one should be surprised that our politicians have gone the spiritual road of prayer instead of being realistic with the issues even while praying for the president. This is why I find laughable comments adduced to different jesters at the corridors of power whose stock in trade in lying and deceit like Ojo Maduekwe, Aandonaka, Akinyuli, Yayale Ahmed that all is well and that his illness has no impact whatsoever on governance since he is still fully in control even from the intensive care unit. We must know that no man is indispensable and so the business of state cannot be hinged on one personality as if he has an absolute right to be president. While I sympathise with the president for being sick and wished he did not accept the presidency when Obasanjo came with his Greek gift, now that the chicken has come to roost, we must decide whether we can continue as we are or should do something immediately about the current situation. His situation is entirely avoidable and self-inflicted knowing his own condition. He should have told Obasanjo to look for another person in the north and there many people more qualified than him in that part of the country.

       To see politicians react sharply to calls for the resignation of the president is unrealistic and most unreasonable. Most of these politicians are not sincere if anything at all. They are only doing eye service so as not to pay a price should in case the president comes back. They are more interested in themselves and their selfish interests than the business of Nigeria, a country desperately in need of a robust, competent and capable leader. I know that most of the ministers are having a field day in the Yar’adua government, an administration that is so permissive in style as much as the defunct Shagari government. Their genuine fear is, should Yar’adua go, will it still be business as usual? It is obvious that these people do not want the party to stop, at least for now.

       The sickness of the president must be seen as an issue beyond the PDP or Federal executive council or the political class. All of us should be concerned and be free to make comments. However, it has brought to the fore once again the whole issue of whether state functionaries should be made to do rigorous medical examination including psychiatric test before they are cleared to contest for any elective position. I find it unreasonable for people being required to go for medical examination for smaller responsibilities while the person who is running the entire country whose decisions or indecisions will affect the entire citizenry is free from undergoing medical examination. Running a country like Nigeria is tough business and not one for the unwell. All those hawks within the PDP and federal executive councils who are shouting down calls for the resignation of the president are enemies of Nigeria. If the president is not God and is incapable of performing his functions for which he is handsomely paid, he should resign so that someone else can take his place. I know the sore-point here is that some northern elements would not want Vice president Jonathan to take over because they think this is their chance. I am not here referring to the common people in the North but the Northern political establishment who hijack power for their selfish interests. This is why I will not rule out a military coup next year because the North will want to possibly get three terms of four years before they can cede power to other ethnic groups. With this is in mind, those who are saying that Nigeria may break-up before 2015 should be taken seriously. The ingredients are already there and most Nigerians are tired of this great lie called the Federal republic of Nigeria. It is simply a ruse, an appearance taken for reality. Not that Jonathan is a clean and honest man or that he is better than Yar’adua, but since providence has brought him where he is now, he should be allowed to take over according to the constitution. I wonder what would have happened if Yar’adua were to be a Southerner?  What would the northern oligarchy have said? Let it be said that even though Obasanjo was brought into power because of being a South-westerner, it was the North that brought him into power and so all the disasters he unleashed on us were inflicted by the North.


       If the truth must be told, I do not trust any member of the Federal executive council, they are lacking in integrity, credibility and sincerity. Yayale Ahmed can go and tell his claims about their credibility to the marines. These people are neither patriots nor responsible Nigerians. For the past two years, we have been in darkness, our economy has been stationary and our roads have generally become death-traps. If we trust these people who do not care about our general welfare to tell us the truth about what is really happening to the president, then we are in trouble. The point must be made that Yar’adua is mortal just like anyone else and will die when he will die one day whether we like it or not. The business of government must continue with or without him. Nigerians should be told the whole story because they have a right to know what is happening to their president. To make such information the exclusive preserve of a privileged few in government is highly unpatriotic.

       The issue of how his medical treatment is funded should be considered at this point. It is unfortunate that while many Nigerians are dying of preventable diseases, our president has the luxury of travelling to Saudi Arabia to get the best of treatment on our bill. How then would one consider the fact that the President while in the saddle in Katsina state did not think of building a world-class kidney specialist hospital to take care of himself and such other cases in the country? This he should have done instead of leaving six billion Naira in the coffers of Katsina state if indeed he left such an amount of money.

       In conclusion, there is a monolithic or one-directional understanding of prayer in this country today. It is that prayers must be answered by God according to how exactly we have prayed. But one important thing people lose sight of is the ‘will of God.’ This is why muslims say “Insha Allah’ i.e. By the will of God. Whenever we pray, we must leave anything we have asked for to his will which ultimately is the best thing for us. My prayer point therefore is that God’s will be done to Nigeria and in the life of President Yar’adua. Nothing more and nothing less. 

Fr. Emmanuel Ogundele is with the Department of Philosophy, Ss. Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan.

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