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Mr President, “Yes you can”

By Kunle Oyatomi
Together, we would have been assessing the year 2009 in retrospect today, as I promised last week.

However, that cannot happen because other compelling issues deserve priority attention today. And incidentally, it has to do with our president’s illness; especially how that unfortunate event is impacting the political environment.

It is sad and worrying that it is already three weeks since the president departed Abuja for Saudi Arabia, ill but hoping to return early enough. As we said last week, a week is a very long time in governance, which can be tricky and problematic if the president is absent and nobody is known to be exactly in charge.

But getting into the third week is not good enough without a captain in the ship of state.

We are going through needless uncertainty already which requires that Mr President should put a decisive stop to the drift by “speaking” from his sick bed.

This has become necessary because whatever will restrict him to a sick bed for three weeks is unlikely to allow him to be fit enough to resume full-scale work of piloting the ship of Nigeria immediately he is discharged. At least, even if he were discharged today, he would need a while week to convalesce, before we or the doctors would consider him strong enough to resume work.

That means, in another two weeks or more, depending on when the Arabian doctors discharge him from the sick bed, we may not have President Yar’Adua on his duty post.

This is what the president should avoid at all cost because he is totally responsible for whatever happens now because he has done nothing, (or so we are told), to put somebody in charge (constitutionally) while he was unavoidably absent on account of ill-health.

To stop the turmoil this has created in the political arena, I will very strongly advise that Mr President should scribble a paragraph letter informing the National Assembly and Nigerians that because he would, for a while, be unavoidably absent on account of ill-health and medical treatment, the Vice President should act on his behalf pending when he returns.

Just this simple action will have the effect of stopping the disquiet which his departure to Saudi Arabia has caused. The way things are going, if the President does nothing to put this issue to rest, he would inadvertently be leaving the country destabilised.

This, to say the least, will intensify the call for his resignation, which, incidentally, is not going down well with a number of people, and could cause further division in the country.

Certainly, the President would not want this for the country; so I urge him (like thousands of other Nigerians) to act decisively to stop the drift and calm the storm now raging in the political atmosphere. Our hearts and sympathy go to Mr President, and we pray for his quick recovery.

Having said all these, the focus should now turn on the PDP. As a political institution, it must take vicarious responsibility for inflicting the pain of a sick president on Nigeria. The sordid details of how we came to this crisis need to be told here.

What remains incontrovertible is that if the powers that be in the PDP had not supported the deed of the monster that made the choice in the first place, we will not be where we are today. We are again fast approaching another process of choice.

The PDP will have to decide who its candidate for president will be in 2011.
Already, there are monsterous rumours circulating that the party might repeat the 2007 attrocity by asking the currently sick president to continue.

That, without a doubt, will cost the greatest doubt on the capacity of the party’s leadership to act in the interest of the nation. I personally like to believe, that it is only a rumour.

But before the unthinkable happens, let it be said loud and clear that it is neither in Yar’Adua’s interest or that of the PDP itself, nor this nation in particular for anyone within that party to contemplate casting such punishing burden on a sick person who is already overburdened by the sheer massive weight of responsibility trying to fix a hopelessly drifting country like Nigeria.

It would be demonstration of wickedness in high places for the PDP to ask Yar’Adua to run again in 2011, should the party even contemplate it. No matter whatever anyone, friend, family or associate, thinks to the contrary, the current president, going by what we already know of his medical conditions may not be strong enough to carry the burden of Nigeria after this tenure runs out.

It will therefore be suicidal for the party, as well as unpatriotic for anyone to field Yar’Adua for 2011  presidential election. Our prayers for the president now should be that God grants him grace to survive this medical condition and help the country through 2010 into the next  election, after which, he should take a deserved  rest.

The high-wired political scheming going on as a result of the president’s illness is unfortunate. If the politicians don’t get their act right, a lot of things are going to go terribly wrong.

For once, let them show maturity beyond this greed for power that is virtually so evident in their scheming and responses to the events of the last three weeks.

The impression people have is that the most of current bunch of people in politics are in it not for what they  can do for, or give to society, but for what “spoils” and “loot” they can milk off our sick political environment.

They may have been having a field day in the last decade; but it’s been long past midnight, and a new political day is dawning.

Certainly  not for the wicked and the greedy.


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