Where, for crying out loud, is our President?
The now infamous election rally call is no doubt, still resounding throughout the land: “Umaru, are you dead?”“No sir!” Little did anyone know however, that Olusegun Obasanjo’s public reassurance gag in the heat of the presidential campaign a few months ago will bear some significant political hallmarks more than half a year into the Presidency of the former governor of Katsina.
Understandably, it will be recalled that Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was at the time, taken to a German hospital for urgent treatment in a cloak-and-dagger operation. The suddenness of his disappearance from public view at the time, did not only fuel speculations about the death or otherwise, of the designated presidential candidate of the ruling party, it also called into question the secrecy that cladded the departure obviously, under cover of darkness. Many were delighted, who would have wished him nothing but death simply for being the anointed heir apparent of his predecessor. Malicious rumors made the round. He was declared so badly ill that his anointment was portrayed as a clandestine ploy by his predecessor to facilitate his continued grip on power even beyond his tenure.
To reassure well-wishers and put adversaries to perpetual shame, ex-President Obasanjo stage-managed a grand but simple high-tech show linking a telephone conversation with the candidate on his hospital bed in far-away Germany, to a public address system. It was loud and clear for all to hear. Umaru was not dead. Indeed, he was talking to the President.
Today however, the call and cry for the whereabouts of the President has a different quality altogether. Thank goodness, Umaru is alive and kicking or so it seems at face value. All rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, it is clear that the President does have international functions to attend to in the coming weeks that a very frail health would have ruled out the scheduling of any long-haul flights for state visits. Even though rumors contend that the President had been to Germany lately for medical examination with the consequence of dire medical warning against tight schedules and a grim prognosis, thank goodness, there has so far, been no need to take him to any foreign country for dialysis operations in the dead of night. The President seems healthy and the nation is happy. But where the hell is the President? Indeed, I almost laughed to death only today, upon reading a newly coined phrase used by a reader in commenting on my last essay. The phrase described our President as Mr. “Yar’Ado nothing”!
I have no doubt, that President Yar’Adua can and will not claim to be unaware of the dire problems facing the nation in all areas of infrastructure under present-day terms. Indeed, ex-President Obasanjo could simply have abdicated on May 29 th, 2007 without a successor and the state of affairs would probably have been very much the same as it is today.
What the damn hell is President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua doing for crying out loud?
For the first time ever, I have seen myself very much in agreement with Atiku Abubakar’s AC’s assessment that the current administration is still groping in the dark more than six months into its tenure.
Agreed that a solution to the most pressing problem of power and water cannot come overnight as it requires sound structural and technical planning as well as execution. But where are evidences of progress on the ground? What single project is the President’s government undertaking at the moment to provide some sign of life and hope to the long-suffering masses?
Is the President unable to launch a drive with proactive commitment to galvanizing action in a conference of governors? Is the President unable to devise a policy focus encouraging regular meeting with governors to coordinate infrastructural upgrade and subject the entire project to a national priority? Is the President unable to strike a crucial note of color blindness in the perception of party colors and urging all stakeholders to join regularly in a proactive drive to advance the country? What is all this talk of 2020?
What lofty height does President Yar’Adua intend to attain by simply staying colorless and invisible? The President’s best friends and admirers today, are Orji Uzor Kalu, Aondokaa, James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion and a host of others. A bandwagon of corruption suspects whose friendship the President openly courts regardless of the consequences. What does Umaru Musa Yar’Adua intend to achieve in the face of an action that may be perceived as arrogantly insensitive? What are the stakes in the President’s compelling friendship with perceived enemies of national progress?
Today, news abound that a nationwide blackout is a formidable reality in the impending holiday period of religious festivities. Vandals are reported to be flourishing in acts of sabotage disrupting gas supply to already weak power stations. Unfortunately, there is hardly any talk of practical safeguards in spite of wealth amassed in recently accrued revenues. Indeed, the absence of these anti-vandal safeguards is already a fundamental failure at the lowest ebb of governance.
The most voluble and exposed government functionary today is the Attorney General of the Federation aggressively pursuing and implementing a policy yielding a result that is so far, representative of stagnation and inertia if not a slow but unnoticed backward drift. Unfortunately, all actions and pronouncements for which the present administration has gained prominence so far, are all turning out to be for all the wrong reasons there can be. The rule of law as a slogan and alleged policy correction has simply played into the hands of the wrong quarters altogether. Deliberately or coincidentally! And the President is mute!
Now I hear that contracts awarded to the leading telecommunications giant Siemens have been revoked in the aftermath of involvement in a corruption scandal. What an immaculate sanctity. Fighting glaring symptoms and leaving the disease intact to bite deeper into the wholesome structure. No single political heavyweight accused of receiving bribes from Siemens has been charged for any offense in Nigeria to say the least of conviction. In fact, prominent Nigerians with evidential involvement in money laundering facing the law in other countries are systematically left off the hook with the clever oratory invocation of technical deficiencies. Unfortunately, no such technical deficiency is brought to bear on Siemens. The idea being “bribe your way through but thou shall not be caught!” Punitive sanctions shall be imposed on softer targets. That may fetch some desired cheap points in public admiration. It is of course easier to make the scapegoat of foreign targets no matter how much we may stand on the losing end in the forfeiture of desired technology. Chicanery at its best!
Is the President aware how many more foreign companies may have bribed their way through Nigeria’s contract jungle? What may be left if all contracts were called off? Are we simply opting to call a spade a spoon rather than facing the crust of our own domestic problem?
But there are roads begging to be fixed long before the coming of the President. Can the President see them? Since all roads are not Federal projects, is the government leading by example to state governments by commencing massive works at least on federal roads? Is it impossible to strike a deal with governors on mutual progress reports as relates to projects jointly agreed with the central government? Can someone call on our President to indulge in more action and push the rule of law camouflage to the background?
There is a debate to hike the price of fuel and this has not been ruled out for good. Ask Venezuela and find out the joy of being a citizen of an oil-producing country. Year-for-year Nigeria complains about the burden of fuel subsidy. Yet there is no remedial infrastructure in place to justify subsidy revisionism. Just what is the President doing?
What is the President doing to translate wealth into practical affluence? Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was praised for sanitizing the finances of Katsina from deficit to surpluses. But critics cried out early enough that surpluses were useless if they do not translate into practical and useful suffering-alleviating infrastructure. Is that the President’s current strategy at the Federal level as well?
What is the President doing to have action expedited on the prosecution of treasury looters? When is Umaru Musa Yar’Adua going to creep out of the comfort of Aso Rock and hit his chest before the nation chanting loud “now is the time to act and fast as well?”
Seeking cheap political points in reversing previous policies including those that had long been reversed, as political window-dressing will not mean a thing to the large masses. The aftermath of the revolution-thirst that rocked the political establishment led by the largely anti-establishmentarian intelligentsia and was shunned by the common man in the post election days, should be lessons enough to educate Mr. President that the intellectual focus on policy reversals and the rule of law, is least noticed by the common man. The nation expects leadership and not a perfect blending into oblivion and colorless inertia. Shagari’sm and the resultant aftermath of Dikko’ism are still very fresh in political perception. Where is the President?
Where is the sense of direction that the President is elected to spearhead? Will the President forever stay quiet as the gentle likeable darling of heaven and earth? If this is the President’s dream, which can definitely not be true, then he may come up against a startling surprise as time progresses.
Now they say Ibrahim Babangida is standing on the verge of a second coming. Rumors, rumors everywhere and nothing to hold. The invisible President is lost upon the nation!