By Dale Sobowale
A living dog is better than a dead lionâ€.â€”Chinese proverb.
PRESCRIPT.Â Forgive me for repeating this statement two weeks in a row. But, it is important because, never mind what the politicians say, this is a matter of life and death of an individual who happens to be our president. It would have been a different matter if it was a totally family affair. This is a global drama; a leaderless nation; playing itself out. â€”Dele.
THE VP cannot do it (i.e provide the presidential leadership) as we have pointed out earlier. Even if he is the most spell-binding speaker, he is not the president. The SGF or Senate president can only support the helmsman in this crusade.
Yet, the president is unavailable and the economy he left on its knees might be flat on its back by the time he returns.
That will not only increase the stress on him personally, it will heat up the polity considerably. Consequently, he might soon be back in (now Saudi) or wherever he is. As it is two entities are seriously endangered – the president and Nigeria.
Let me at this point admit some of the constraints you and the president have. His selection and emergence as president have elevated some people into positions of prominence which will be lost if he steps aside. He is also keenly aware of the constitutional provisions stipulating that the vice president should take over if he resigns his office. Since the office of president was zoned to the North in 2007 that would mean that power will rotate back to the South in less than four or even eight years.
The potential political backlash that might result from that is sufficient to make the president feel that he has been nailed to the cross and cannot step down without incurring the contempt or wrath of his people. Such considerations if they form part of the reasons why he is holding on, even at the risk of life, would stamp him as a noble man with a martyr complex.
It is admirable but pathetic because if he ruins his health and cannot continue the palaver will occur all the same. Why not â€œstep aside,â€ to borrow the words of another failure, and let Nigeria march to her destiny? Perhaps his departure might even help us to undo the harm done by his selection by a cynical former president.
As for those who have been elevated or hope to be promoted by a Yarâ€™Adua presidency, and who he feels obligated to defend, even at great risk to himself, he only needs to be reminded of the words of Bernard Malamud in The Fixer.
According to Malamud, â€œIn a sick country all the efforts aimed at curing its sickness is opposed by people who feed from its sickness.â€ Those who want him to hold the â€œNigerian cowâ€so they can milk it will simply go and look for another benefactor if he croaks. Vultures donâ€™t care who dies as long as they have carrion to feed upon.
That leads to the question of who can tell the president the truth and perhaps make him face up to the inevitable, namely, that he has developed diminishing physical capacity to preside. First, let me eliminate those who cannot. The constitution provides that the Federal Executive Council can declare the president unfit for office. That is laughable under the circumstances. Who among the ministers or the chief of staff or the SGF will move the motion? So, that is out.
His special advisers are also not candidates for this assignment. Forget the National Assembly or the National Working Committee of the PDP. Ogbulafor might not be very bright, especially when he talks about PDP ruling for 60 years, but he is not crazy – at least not yet. He knows that any such suggestion from the NWC would amount to political suicide if not actual voluntary self-euthanasia. So they are out too.
Then, who can â€œbell the catâ€- to use an old expression. That leaves two candidates. First are those like me who have never asked for and will never ask your husband for anything and who believe that he must be told the truth – no matter the consequences. The second is you.
Madam, I know you love your husband and that you would rather have a live ex-president to cuddle for more years than a fading memory of something six feet under. In fact nobody else is perfect for the job. Therefore, in the name of all that is good, let me ask that you to please perform the most difficult task of your life fully in the knowledge that you have done the best for Nigeria, for the president and for posterity.
When the president returns from this trip, from Saudi or wherever that may be, get him on a presidential aircraft. Then, ask the pilot to fly to Katsina. Take our president home and help him to draft a resignation letter. You can come for the luggage later.
Thereafter you can proceed to nurse him to old age. You are probably asking the reason for all these. It is very simple really. The man never wanted to be president. That is why till today people like Oghene continue to ask for a blueprint (for development) that would never materialize. Those who genuinely want to be president donâ€™t wait until after the election to develop one.
They go on the campaign hustling with their blueprint for governance in hand.
Unlike Obama, and perhaps Attah Mills, Yarâ€™Adua did not campaign. First of all he was handpicked by a vindictive leader who decided to us pay us back for refusing him the third term.
And what they called campaigning was no more than a bunch of old comedians called â€œGarrison commandersâ€ making fools of themselves on stage after stage.
Only as an after-thought was Umoru pulled up to have his hand raised and to shout â€œVeeDVee Vower to the veovleâ€. The man had no blue print and he promised us nothing.
It is really not his fault that he does not know how to govern. And on top of that he had not the slightest idea about the demands the job would make on his health. It is doubtful if he can continue to stand the strain. Granted, no man likes to admit failure on a great enterprise.
But, must stubbornness lead to a casualty – especially if it can be averted?Â Please, Madam, when Ogapatapata returns, take him home to Katsina and let the vultures fight over the spoils he will leave behind.