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Now the days of mourning are over

By Owei Lakemfa
TODAY, the official days of mourning are over for President Umaru Yar’Adua. Most of his  life, he did not court controversy. But in sickness, especially in the last six months of his life, some members of his immediate family, his aides and hangers on clothed him in the full regalia of controversy.

They regarded the presidency as a pot of gold and he as their only access to it.  So even when he was stretched out by  ill health and could reasonably no longer perform his basic duties as president, they foisted him on the office and the nation.

A man who preached  rule of law and due process was not even allowed to take the basic step of notifying the National Assembly that he was indisposed and needed to temporarily step aside for the Vice President to act. In their desperation and in a rather unintelligent and childish manner, they tried to portray Nigerians who asked that the correct constitutional path be followed, as unfeeling, insensitive and uncaring.

But the outpouring of grief by Nigerians  has put a lie to such insinuations.  We are quite sensitive and sympathetic because as human beings, we know that we all are   vulnerable and susceptible to illness or even passing on. Our position was that  President Yar’Adua be given ample chance and the required peace of mind to take care of his health, rest and recover  rather than be subjected to base political manipulations. We also felt that the country’s well being should not be shackled to his sick bed.

That a very sick man was subjected to the politics  and pressures of state, and being made to strain and drain himself physically in the name of a BBC interview, was unfair and injurious to his health.

These group of masquerades were indeed quite desperate and unpatriotic. They took advantage of  Yar’Adua’s helplessness and made him violate the Constitution by  refusing to notify the National Assembly of his health status as is constitutionally required. They made him sign the budget which he was in no position to study, or claimed that he signed it.

They deliberately made him inaccessible and criminally attempted to rule in his name. To continue their ungodly manipulation and deceit, they started issuing verbal bulletins on his state of health. Most notorious was Ambassador  Aminci, in Saudi Arabia who must hold the Guinness Book of Records as  the man who lied most on the health of a sitting president.

Things got so comical that Nigerians were told that a critically ill man was so strong that he was jogging up and down the staircase of his Saudi hospital.

When finally the much blackmailed government mustered enough courage to send an official delegation to Saudi Arabia, the manipulators knew they were cornered. Fearing exposure and perhaps with the insistence by the Saudi Arabians that an official government delegation cannot be denied access to Yar’Adua, just as the delegation was landing in Saudi Arabia, they bundled the poor man into an air ambulance and flew him into the country in the dead of the night. Without the knowledge of Acting President Jonathan Goodluck, the conspirators illegally turned out the army on the streets of Abuja and insisted disdainfully on referring to the Acting President as Vice President.

To them, the mere presence of Yar’Adua in the country, even if in a coma, meant that the action of the National Assembly in appointing an Acting President had been annulled and was no longer of any effect. In their small minds, Jonathan had automatically reverted to the position of Vice President and they were back in control.

When the country ran on, paying scant regard to them even when they had Yar’Adua in their custody, they tried to flex muscles by inviting clerics in a controversial way to the Aso Rock Villa which was still under their nominal control.
But last Wednesday their antics came to an end, Yar’Adua died; while they could hide his true state of health, it was not possible to hide his death. His corpse had to be produced in public and buried.

Like very bad third rate actors and actresses, their ignoble roles had come to an end, they had to  vacate Aso Rock, the country can now truly move forward. A phase has ended, another begins, not just for the country but also various individuals.

Yar’Adua’s daughters who had married serving governors are now without their greatest asset: their father and the power he wielded; now they will need to find their proper places in the life of polygamy they chose or was chosen for them.

Their husbands would find that there is no longer a political advantage in marrying the daughter of the boss now that there is a new boss.

Senator Saminu Turaki who wanted to make a career out of campaigning for  a 12-year presidency for Yar’Adua would need to expend his time and energy in more productive things. It is hoped that sycophants would have learnt from the myopia of ministers like  Michael Aondoakaa who claimed falsely that the president of a country can rule from outside, or senators like Ekweremadu who presented the specious argument that Yar’Adua could stay out of the country for two years or more and continue to be president.

Those who took us for fools have turned out to be  the greatest fools. They have no respect for the citizenry or the country. They could not distinguish between their private and selfish interests and those of the country.

It is appropriate here to thank the youths and the elders like Professor Wole Soyinka who led them for constantly taking to the streets demanding that the country be saved from conscienceless elites. We should also express our collective appreciation to men of God like Pastor Tunde Bakare who spoke the truth from the pulpit and the streets, and bodies like the Nigeria Bar Association and the Newspapers Proprietors Association who stood up to be counted in defence of our dear country.


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