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Shall we tell the President?

·Why North does not want him to return in 2011
·Political re-alignment begins

By JIDE AJANI, Deputy editor

President Yar'Adua
President Yar'Adua
AS President Umaru Yar’Adua continues to recuperate in the King Faisal Hospital, Saudi Arabia, a lot of things continue to happen.  This report takes a look at some of the events and how Yar’Adua, if he was well enough would possibly have responded to some of the issues that have happened in his absence.  Ranging from the calls that he should resign, to the pressures his deputy is being subjected to, shall we tell the President to stay alive first, before attending to matters of state?

DOUBTS over President’s recovery

With doubts mounting over the health of President Umaru Yar’Adua, strange things are already happening in the polity, and even stranger things on the seat of power, Aso Rock Villa; and stranger, Nigeria may be in for a long session of strangeness.

It was not expected to last this long, although the apprehension about President Yar’Adua’s health was palpable that Monday when he was hurriedly flown out of Nigeria. Even his base which is Northern Nigeria, is not spared. For a geo-political zone adept at strategically entrapping other zones, the North is becoming desperate; and it is becoming more obvious.

After two years of Yar’Adua, the Mutawalin’Katsina, the North is yet to come to terms with what has hit it in terms of paradigm. For a former state governor who simply decided to go to the lecture room and become a lecturer, but was foisted, first on the PDP, and then Nigeria, by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Yar’Adua presidency, many in more ways would want to conclude has been bedeviled by illness of Mr. President. Twenty one days and still counting, many things are happening and many more would happen (check catalogue in box).

Where must Yar’Adua go?

Those chanting the mantra of “no second term for Yar’Adua” may, on the surface insinuate altruism into their campaign, insisting that his health would not even permit him properly finish his first term in office.  But more than that, just as some who were calling for the immediate handing over to Vice president Goodluck Jonathan, their interest actually lies in grabbing power.

However, a mild scratch would show that altruism is just in a funny mix with some other considerations. As reported on these pages last week, Sunday Vanguard has also discovered a very dangerous trend to the whole story of Yar’Adua’s poor health which has kept him out of power, a trend which is going to be occasioned by a re-alignment of political forces.

An air of precaution still pervades Aso Rock Villa. In fact, the agenda of those calling for President Yar’Adua’s resignation has to do with the anticipatory non-sufferance of another four year term for Yar’Adua. Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed that the campaign to ease Yar’Adua out of power had been in the offing since last year and it is bound to be even more vociferous in the coming weeks.

This, Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed, has to do with the re-alignment of political forces in the country. Just as it happened during the months of lull, when politicians were not sure whether Obasanjo wanted a third term or not, thereby throwing political activities into a temporary neutral mode, the present situation in the polity is simply that of lull.

Deregulated economy

For a president who, upon assumption of office, attempted to strike a balance between continuing some of the reform efforts of the immediate past Olusegun Obasanjo administration and the need to tread softly so as not to further expose the underbelly of the North to a wholesale deregulated economy, was seen as unbecoming of a Nigerian president of northern extraction.

And whereas the allegations at the beginning of the administration that President Yar’Adua was beginning to draw back the hands of time in the area of deregulation and reforms, an allegation largely made from the South, the North saw in the Yar’Adua presidency one which was insensitive to the yearnings from upper Niger. This was Yar’Adua’s first real challenge. It was from that moment that Yar’Adua began to have problems with his fellow northerners, prompting earlier insinuation that he would not be allowed to go for a second term.

His health is no wealth anymore?
….And the re-alignment of forces begin

Today, his health has more than play into the hands of a majority of those who do not want him to go for a second term. The real game-plan would be for the North to produce another individual for the presidency in 2011. Constitutionally, an individual is permitted to do two terms of four years each.

It is the broke, that the North is going for, believing that all the major political parties for the 2011 presidential elections would present candidates of northern extraction (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and the yet to be form mega party being mid-wifed by former Vice president Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari, along with Attahiru Bafarawa – Action Congress, AC, appears to have all but lost its northern flank and may not be able to field a candidate in such mould).

In fact, the national convention of the AC this weekend is one of the moves meant to signal a possible re-alignment of political forces preparatory to dumping Yar’Adua and, possibly, the PDP. Sunday Vanguard has stumbled on a piece of tantalising information from the opposition elements. The strategy, using the AC convention as a plank, is to rally all known opposition elements in the country, including those domiciled in the PDP but who still saw in Yar’Adua a rallying point, to bond together.

This it hopes, will give more impetus to the political movement being mid-wifed by Atiku, Buhari and Bafarawa. In a polity of clashing socio-political and economic interests, it should not come as a surprise that the staccato call for the resignation of Yar’Adua has become a matter of shambolism just as the health of the man in question.

Beyond his health, however, Yar’Adua may have hurt quite a number of interests. First was the privatization programme of Obasanjo. It had been expected that Yar’Adua would reverse the process/  And whereas Yar’Adua buckled under pressure and has since reversed the privatization of the refineries, the north is not particularly comfortable with the manner of his engagement.

Obasanjo had engaged a concession process for the ports which appears to be yielding results but for the recent congestion. The unbundling of PHCN is another one as well as the unbundling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, are some of the policies that Yar’Adua may end up having no option but to consolidate on. Before Yar’Adua, the north had expected such policies to be reversed since power was shifting to the North.

Which explains why President Yar’Adua’s major problem is his ability (or lack of) balancing the developmental agenda of his administration with the needs of some influential political figures in the North. Striking that delicate compromise position is what continues to bug his administration.

On the part of those who appear genuinely concerned, there is the fear that the last two years of Yar’Adua has not been with noticeable achievements. They further contend that if the last two years is anything to go by, then Nigeria is in for a long spell of redundancy.

Add to that the fact that critics in some quarters are already playing the blame game, insisting that nothing good was ever expected to come from a northern leader. Therefore, when the north complains about Yar’Adua not doing the North’s bidding, they are simply saying the last two years have been wasted on behalf of the North. In fact, the permutation now is that should another candidate emerge as president in 2011, such a person would be able to spend his own two terms afresh.

How Yar’Adua emerged

Immediate past president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, played a crucial role in lording Yar’Adua on the nation. In his political party, the PDP, Obasanjo ensured that those who could create electoral deficit for whoever he chooses as presidential candidate were dealt with. With the instrumentality of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Obasanjo began his own screening process. Those whom he did not want began having questions to answer. But as 2006 was coming to an end, some governors on the platform of the party presented (in fact, they sold)Yar’Adua to Obasanjo.

For reasons including, but not limited to, stories of Yar’Adua’s exploits as Katsina State governor and the fact that Umar was a younger brother to Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, The senior Yar’Adua was Obasanjo’s Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters between 1976 and 1979. Until Obasanjo agreed to bankroll and power-play Yar’Adua’s candidacy in 2007, little was known about Umar Yar’Adua.

Even amongst his governor-colleagues, he was considered a recluse.  For a man who governed the seemingly sleepy state of Katsina to now be saddled with the complexities of the Nigerian nation was not only incredulous but indecipherable. But Obasanjo imposed Yar;Adua on the PDP and the latter went on to win the Presidential elections which has since been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

But the North is complaining today that the man Obasanjo imposed on the nation is not up and doing – but that is relative in some context. The real issue is that Obasanjo may have gotten even with the North.  The North it was which imposed Obasanjo as the South West candidate.

He was considered an eight year tenure of waste for both the South West and the nation – that is relative though. Obasanjo, in turn, imposed Yar’Adua as the northern candidate who has turned out not to be quite healthy enough to serve any interest.


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