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Open letter to Mrs Turai Yar’Adua

By Daele Sobowale
BREAKING News Commentary:  Justas I was about to send this Sunday’s column to the Sunday Editor, news reached us that our dear President Yar’Adua had once again been admitted into a hospital in Saudi. He was on admission in January this year, which occasioned the column below – written in January 2009.

He was again there, at least once, may be more times, before this latest admission. And only God knows how often we shall be put through the agonies of anxiety created whenever the president becomes incapacitated this way. As the Chinese have reminded us, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Vanguard Book of Quotations p.42).

To which I will add that, “even, a living cat is better than a serially ill lion- if the lion is the president of a country which needs all hands on deck at all times to progress. What is the use of the captain of a ship who is always in sick bay? Please bear with me and read again what was written in January. I think it is just as relevant today as in the first month of the year.

0805-804-7455: “Sir, Obama has submitted his economic blue print to the Congress even before taking over. But here for almost two years, our go-slow leader is still booting. Oh Mr President, when will you wake up and run like ur mates?…—Oghene I.E.

TO what I can only call the lamentations of Oghene, Steve Ayorinde in The Punch of January 8, 2009 added: “And in looking forward to a better year, part of what government and the political vigilantes around could be guided by are the salient issues that were either half done, left totally unattended and abandoned last year.”

That was on the back page if you feel like reading the rest of that well-crafted piece. By the way, Madam, you will notice I did not address you as “Your Excellency” the way sycophants, office seekers and plain bush people around you do.

The reason is simple. Nowhere else, except in banana republics such as our own are presidents, prime ministers, governors and premiers and their wives addressed that way. The letter headed  stationery at the White House, U.S or 10 Downing Street, London, don’t have “His Excellency embossed on them as has been done in Abuja by barbarians who don’t understand the first thing about protocol.

The fact that elected officials in Nigeria want to dress themselves in these borrowed robes only testifies to their emptiness. Excellence is not measured by the position you hold but by the contributions to society.  I just want to get that out of the way in order to quickly get to my reasons for writing you this open letter.

I am concerned about three entities primarily: our beloved nation Nigeria  comes first. Oddly enough, your husband, now president of Nigeria, at the moment comes second. The fate of our children, yours, mine and everybody’s; born and unborn; come third.

Yet all those concerns can be addressed adequately if only you will do one thing to which I shall come later.  Rumours have it that our president is once again absent from Aso Rock. Additional speculations have it that he is back in Germany and flat on his back as well.

Pardon me if these rumours prove to be unfounded; but your husband provoked them by casting a blanket of silence over his staff regarding his true state of health. When truth is stifled, gossip takes over. However, if indeed he is in Germany, he would have left an economy down on its knees needing an urgent blueprint, just as one would require a dialysis machine if afflicted with you know what.

Unfortunately, he has not only left the economy hanging on the ropes, he has left us without a credible “spare tyre.” Obasanjo-Atiku feud in the last three years of their ticket has put paid to a VP taking charge in the absence of the president.

And the fate of Babagana Kingibe has also ensured that the secretary to the Federal Government, SFG, might as well go farming because any pro-active move on his part might be misconstrued as attempt at “administrative coup.” As for the Senate president, you might as well look for snow in the burning sun of the Sahara desert as to expect a spark of meaningful leadership from him.

Now, Madam, I believe you love Nigeria; at least I have no reason to doubt it. I also believe you love your husband. And there is a great deal lovable about the gentleman. Finally, I strongly believe you love your kids and Nigerian kids – born and unborn because I have been told you are a devoted mother. Yet something endangers all three; Nigeria, Umoru Yar’Adua and our kids. That thing is – your husband.

Let me quickly explain. Former British prime minister, Harold Wilson, in the 1970s left us with these words on granite for all time: “A week in politics is a long time”. (Vanguard Book of Quotations p.271). And nothing has demonstrated the truthfulness of that statement than the current global economic meltdown which stared in just one unforgettable week last year.

The entire world has not recovered since then. More importantly, the countries that are blessed with vigorous, (because vigour is vital in a leader faced with crisis) leaders, have developed their own means of crawling out of the whole. Given the globalization of markets, most of them are looking to exports of goods and services to bail themselves out. More to the point, their leaders are on their feet – not flat on their backs !!!

If indeed the president of Nigeria is away, he has left for more than a week, an economy endangered. The budget he sent to the National Assembly, NASS, was hastily passed by an unthinking Senate. Divinely, the younger, more visionary and patriotic, elements in the House would not be stampeded into rubber stamping drivel. They intend to go over the damn thing every line.

That is as it should be. But, again in countries having real leaders, the fact that the NASS has not passed the budget need not delay other measures which could have positive impact on our economy. For instance, it has been established by the verdict of history that: “Behind the facts of economics are the facts of psychology…The emotions of fear and confidence…constitute a very important medium through which we see economic values.”

Every other world leader is not only presenting blueprints but he/she is also going out meeting business people, labour, civil society and assuring them that their government will not allow them to suffer unnecessarily. That constitutes the basic elements of confidence building which serves as underpinning to the budget.

For instance, despite the fact that a lot of people have serious misgivings about the US bail out plan, the fact that Bush and Obama are out there seen to be working addresses the emotions of fear which nobody in Nigeria is doing at the moment. Yet, a week is a long time in politics and the economy as well.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.