By Kunle Oyatomi
The big news is that Mr President is back home after exactly 90 days in which he practically disappeared. Thatâ€™s supposed to have been a thing of joy for all of us, but some evil people have made the event into a â€œkill-joy.â€ They smuggled him in at the dead of night (around 2am on Wednesday) and spirited him into a waiting ambulance enroute Aso Rock.
What are we to imagine is happening when our president, who cannot return to the country in broad daylight to waive to us and say â€œthank you, fellow countrymen for your prayers and goodwillâ€, but was stretchered into an ambulance in pitch darkness and driven into a seduced arrear of Aso rock?
Why must the Vice President (now Acting President) not be allowed to be present to welcome Mr President at the airport? Who is shielding him away from seeing his â€œrecuperatingâ€ boss, both of whom were jointly elected into governance supposedly byÂ Nigerians? What are we to make of this orchestrated tragic-comic event?
The only intelligent conclusion we may draw from how President Yarâ€™Adua was brought back home from Saudi Arabia is that he isnâ€™t any more the same person we used to know!! So, he must be shielded from public view, and even that of his Vice. If that is the case, then I must make bold to say that we have just sprouted a new dilemma that is potentially even more dangerous than what we just survived in getting Jonathan to function as â€œActing presidentâ€, pending the recovery of Yarâ€™Adua.
Our constitution recognises only a healthy president who function in the open, public view; not one who operates from behind a curtain. So we must constantly have the opportunity of closely monitoring our president to be sure that he is in sound mind and good health to govern. So why is anybody deliberately hiding the president from us if not that he no longer qualifies to be regarded as â€œfit and healthyâ€ to govern? Perhaps, that explains why so much hassle was made of preventing people from seeing him at the airport on Wednesday. The question that requires urgent answer now is, for what purpose has Mr President been brought back in his current condition?
From unfolding events as at the time of writing this piece, it would appear that those who have held the president â€œcaptiveâ€, want to use what is left of him as a pretext to control government, (as intermediaries), and render Jonathan not just ineffective but also subservient to their manipulation. However, their problem, (which is as much our dilemma) is that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has no provision whatsoever for any kind of intermediary between an incapacitated president and an acting president! What section 144 of the constitution says is that the incapacitated president should be replaced by his vice.
The President isnâ€™t given any option to perform his function through any intermediary.
The new dilemma which has sprouted in the orchestrated return of Yarâ€™Adua is that because the presidentâ€™s wife, Turai and her collaborators have prevented all Nigerians, (not excluding the Vice President, as at Thursday, and members of the Federal Executive Council of the country), from seeing the president, we are in no position to assess his state of health.
Worst still, the presidentâ€™s Saudi doctors have either refused to, or have been instructed not to make available a comprehensive report on the manâ€™s health to the government of Nigeria, thus we are in no position to determine whether Mr President is in a vegetating state, or actually recuperating. It is what these intermediaries tell us that we know, which is hog-wash!!
We are now practically between the devil and the deep blue sea. Our options are stark, and only two (as far as I can see). We must find a way of compelling Turai and her collaborators to make Yarâ€™Adua available for professional medical assessment (as provided for by section 144 ofÂ the constitution), or we go the whole hog and terminate this dangerous situation hanging over our heads by startingÂ the process of impeachment to rid the country of a President who might have become â€œunfit to govern.â€
That said, one must be human and humane enough to admit that it would be the most unkind way to treat a sick person, who is probably not even aware of this hopeless drama being enacted in his name. From what we have observed and experienced this far, Yarâ€™Adua is helpless, and evil people are taking advantage of his incapacity for their selfish interests. For this reason, impeachment is a very difficult option indeed. It could convulse the nation and distabilize it, which is in nobodyâ€™s interest.
So, this brings us right back to section 144 of the constitution. But if Akunyiliâ€™s statement on Wednesday is a measure of the mindset of the Federal Executive Council then it would appear that body is not yet in a hurry to act on section 144. Perhaps it is proper to be cautious at this stage, but when the Acting President talked about waiting for briefing from the ailing presidentâ€™s wife before he could proceed, that by itself is enough reason to worry.
If by the time you are reading this piece Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has still not been allowed to see Yarâ€™Adua and report back to Nigerians truthfully on his state of health, then we have a big problem on hand which should make the Federal Executive Council move decisively to activate section 144 of the constitution. They cannot afford to prevaricate at that point.