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Yar'Adua And The Presidential Volte-Face Politics by Chimezie Elemuo


Yar'Adua And The Presidential Volte-Face Politics 

When in 2006, former president Aremu Olusegun  Obasanjo waxing  his presidential power to the full, solely adopted the current president   the PDP presidential standard bearer, many Nigerians expressed their misgivings over the ability of Yar' Adua to steer the ship of the Nigerian state .Their fears were not borne out of any scientific examination of the man but was as a result of the fact that the man was relatively unknown in politics even though he had been the executive governor of Katsina State for two terms. Their fears were also as a result of the fact that the man symbolizes the dove. Quiet, simple and unassuming. These Nigerians would have preferred a hawk or a parrot-which we had in the past president. One thing with the parrot is that it is often seen as a gossiper and not taking serious since no one knows when it is telling the truth or lies. I wonder how many Nigerians took former president Obasanjo serious after his first term in power. It is now a fact that the man would have lost his nomination by the PDP for the 2003 presidential election if Atiku and other forces were not prevailed on. Parrots often don't earn the respect of others but Umaru Yar' Adua will continue to put Nigerians in heightened suspense since everyone will be eager to know what will be the government decision on our political and socio-economic issues.  This gives the Katsina prince at least two advantages. One is that this suspense like in literature will make Nigerians interested in his government and that is, believing in his leadership ability. Two is that he will cult lesser enemies among the vultures who are ever ready to devour the carcass of any leader since they don't know what exactly he will come up with.                                                                                          
But these advantages outlined above may be heading for the rocks with Yar' Ydua's somersault and outright volte-face and Nigerians will be the worst for it. The man had said that Nigerians would not regret his government but now we have reason to fear. Recently, government policies have been changing like the British weather, no thanks to lack of arithmetic knowledge of governance. Nigerians were promised that a state of emergency would be declared on the power sector and Nigerians were all happy and eager, it was a total suspense. Days and months wear by and they became agitated like the Israelites in the wilderness. Like the biblical Moses, Yar' Adua promised that the destination is here, may be to wade off the pressure on him that the emergency on the power sector will be declared this month. Now, we won˘t have that again. Like the Israelites, Nigerians are disenchanted but pray, Yar' Adua does not become another IBB who kept promising but kept failing to fulfill. The reason for this volte-face is that a presentation needs to be made to the National Assembly for the approval of the funds needed for the emergency situation when declared. This volte-face has been recorded again in the now relaxed Niger Delta Summit. Following the incessant attacks by the militants of the oil rich Niger Delta, Yar' Adua proposed a Niger Delta Summit where the problems that have plunged that region into a peril state will be articulately discussed and a solution fashioned out. The choice of the headship of the summit did not go down well with the Niger Delta people. No thanks to the antecedent of the chosen one. The government has now turned from the position of holding a summit to the position of talking to the stakeholders of that region. Even the chameleon does not have the ingenuity of changing that fast.


All these policy somersault of Yar' Adua government would be linked to government lack of political coherence and the penchant to run one man policy government. Yar' Adua's good intention for Nigerian state is not in doubt but the problem lies in the fact that Yar' Adua anounces his intention as government policy and only discuses this intention with government advisers, ministers, policy makers and parliament only when Nigerians are expecting implementation. This leads to the volte-face we currently see. This is akin to the young man who promised his girl friend a car gift only to discover that his bank account is in the red. The young man will find himself under pressure like government and if he has any moral scruple in him, the best he would do is to renege on his promise and explain his reasons the way Yar' Adua has done on the power sector. This is caused by lack of networking by Yar' Adua and his policy makers. This has its many disadvantages which include the fact that the hawks in government who camouflage as policy advisers may cash in on this to box Yar' Adua to a corner since they have discovered that the man lacks the ability to foresee the effect of his often public statement taken as government policy. What happened to the former head of state, general Ironsi following his betrayal by these hawks despite his good intentions for the country is still fresh in our memory. One wonders who are the stakeholders the government wants to discuss the Niger Delta problem with. Is it the elders who have been accused by their own children of looting their funds and sponsoring kidnapping? Is it the middlemen through which ransom are paid to hostage takers? The Niger Delta problem will continue to linger until the government embraces the truth and expose those behind it. The accusations, counter-accusations and the revelations coming from the Rivers Truth Commission will be a tip of the iceberg if the federal government holds the Niger Delta Summit and may be, that was why the government became wiser and decided on the stakeholders meeting. This round table meeting will fell no doubt because those who will surround the table are the looters of the Niger Delta treasury and by the time the round table discussion runs off, government would have spend millions of naira into a long train pipe on tea and biscuits. 
If Yar' Adua wishes to achieve his good intentions for Nigerians, he must learn to talk to honest advisers and those with parochial interest before announcing his intentions as government policies. He must learn too to talk to the true representative of the people on the streets. No government all over the world has achieved excellence without stepping on toes. Yar' Adua must be prepared to step on toes and care less about what friends and associates will say. 

Written by Chimezie Elemuo 
 Chimezie Elemuo is a Lawyer, writes from Oyigbo, Rivers State.

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