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Again, conspiracy of silence triumphs

By Kunle Oyatomi
All expectations of Nigerians that the meeting of the Federal Executive Council last Wednesday will be a decisive step forward for the country came to be a stunning non event that has left a terrible taste in people’s mouth.

Everything for which we sought action, was left unattended. The Saudi report was bland. Instead of a dynamic response from council on the shameful political perfidy that is playing out in the seat of power, we got a wimper.

Nigerians had expected a shake-up in cabinet  but none occurred. The motley of characters that were working at cross purpose have suddenly found a rhythm in conspiratorial silence. Mr Acting President is now acting the principal role of silence, and has put his inherited ministers on a limited space on freedom of speech.

After the FEC meeting of Wednesday we were not much better informed about the ailing President than his cousin  would let us believe (through Al Jezeera TV – not BBC this time) that the ailing president  is off life support machines, and can walk and eat; yet, as at the time of writing this, not even Yar’Adua’s mother could be allowed to see him.

Perhaps as you read this, the Acting President would have been allowed to see his boss, hopefully with a TV crew, otherwise whatever information the AP brings from his visit would be just  as credible as those we have had before the landing at midnight of the ailing president.

Only a day before the non-event of Wednesday’s FEC meeting, the governors had met and demonstrated utter contempt and disdain for Nigerians by resolving that Jonathan can only be Acting President, and that is what he would be until the president is well enough to take back “his job.”

There was a dash of arrogance even in the governors’ statement letting it be known to Jonathan that he should not dream of becoming President in 2011 because it is still the “turn of the North” to produce the president. And hardly have the governors finished their drama when the PDP came to confirm what the governors had  said.

Jonathan was already in the box. The governors are just  tolerating him and the party won’t want him to break with the PDP “family affair” approach to running the country. So when FEC met on Wednesday the stage for the “grand conspiracy of silence” had been set.

The president has been seen by Yar’Adua’s cousin  but Al Jazeera  missed the pictures only the story was available. So, what’s there to talk about the health of the president? It is a PDP family affair and the less the council of ministers said about it the best for Nigeria.  Jonathan should be satisfied with acting, while the sick president breathes down his neck, (hopefully, without infecting the actor). And all of us Nigerians should believe what we hear and what we see, even if we see nothing.

We are the greatest “joke” on earth if we are taken in by this insulting displace of unseriousness boardering on irresponsibility at the highest possible echelon on governance.

If you ask my opinion of what happened on that FEC meeting of Wednesday, I will put the outcome down to surrender of cabinet to high level intimidation from elements on the corridors of power who have no interest whatsoever about the people but only for themselves.

If they cared the slightest about public opinion, they would have been better instructed on the path they have taken. Jonathan wants peace at all cost so he could help his people out of the years of misery they have suffered.

That’s great,  but what guarantees do we have that ignoring the constitution and his oath of defending it will secure the peace? This cabinet surrender to the cabal around Yar’Adua is the greatest dis-service the ruling class can do to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and it signals further violations that would not be in the public interest (even if we may choose to deceive ourselves that it may not impact negatively on the corporate existence of Nigeria).

It is a pity that nobody in the ruling class is giving any thought to what impact their latest conspiracy of silence over the health of Mr President, and the obvious violation of our constitution will do to the society. If in their opinion this will ensure peace, then they are grossly mistaken.

The Nigerian people are angry, frustrated and disgusted with the misbehaviour and irresponsible conduct of the ruling class in the last four months.

So glaring is the primacy they have put on their selfish interest, that their general conduct has become utterly contemptuous of public interest, and they are telling the public to go to hell if they are not satisfied with the leadership they have got. How else should we interprete the arrogance with which the governors were telling the Acting President what his limits are in the country?

On balance, Mr Acting President has allowed himself to be boxed in by the Yar’Adua cabal, the governor’s forum, and the PDP executive. The way I look at it is that he can hardly be his own man any longer, and it may not matter that whatever he does now would be what these people tell him to do “on behalf of Mr President,” who we neither see nor hear from. Well, what does all these come to? Simple!!

We still have President Yar’Adua in charge with Jonathan acting at his pleasure, even if that issues from a sick bed, body or mind. Is that what is intended by the constitution a president in the shadows and a puppet Acting President under the miracle thumb of a sick President?

This is the point at which we will have to admit that either our collective understanding of governance is flawed or the thinking of the ruling class is jaded to the point that it cannot distinguish between constitutionality and political party expedience. What is expedient for the party in this case is  totally unconstitutional and therefore unacceptable.

Shall we therefore admit that public opinion is far ahead of the thought process of these political elites who are making such big fool of the constitution and the country? If not, then Nigerians have become the whipping horses of politicians, that are in the process of enslaving them in their own country.

Nigeria  cannot continue this way. The Presidency is sick and the polity is diseased, that is why although we expected some sanity and salvation from the FEC, we all ended up sad, frustrated and disappointed. Our hope for change has evaporated, and no amount of “peace of the grave yard” can restore that hope.


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