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Vultures on the rooftops

By Ochereome Nnanna

THERE has been a tendency to play safe on the part of the Nigerian media with regard to the latest hospitalisation of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The Tribune Newspapers have been the boldest in covering all angles it believes relevant to the developing news.

Like a hungry newshound, it has sniffed close to family quarters, and in its Wednesday, December 2, 2009 issue, it published a lead: “Yar’ Adua’s family divided over resignation bid”. One angle featured the opinion of Mama Yar’Adua as saying her son should resign. The other reflected that of Hajiya Turai, the President’s First Lady, who was reported to have insisted her husband was fit enough to continue.

These opposing viewpoints by the two most important women in Umaru’s life is an interesting commentary on a mother’s love as compared to that of a wife in the life of the nation’s number one citizen. I have no doubt that both women love the President. Love does not just happen. There has to be a reason for it. Only Jesus Christ is known to love without condition or apparent just cause, which accounts for the fact that he admonishes his followers to love even their enemies!

It is mothers’ natural instinct to love their offspring. But some mothers have been known to abort their foetuses, abandon their newborns in dustbins or desert their matrimonial homes – children inclusive – to pursue new lives with new lovers. So, a mum’s natural love for her offspring is not always a cast-iron given. It is still a privilege to be loved by your own mother.

That of a wife is slightly different. There was something in the man that attracted her affections in the first place. It could be due to personal charms or potentials or actual positions or may be the woman fell in love in reciprocity. If an ensuing marriage produces children and the man grows in stature socially, politically and economically, there is a tendency for the wife to bond more tightly to her man because of these added benefits.

Umaru Yar’ Adua’s mother, as The Tribune reported, would prefer for her son to resign and come home to rest as doctors believed it would help promote his chances of a longer life.

Carrying the burden of Nigeria along with an affliction of such a severe status is simply carrying too much. All that Mama Umaru wants is the survival of her son.

The loss of Shehu is still a fresh wound. As far as she is concerned, Umaru is that little baby of hers with all his vulnerabilities which she, as the mother, takes as a personal challenge. Mothers are like that.

After a bout of food poisoning a couple of months ago, my mother called me from the village. Apparently my voice had changed a bit. She snapped: “This is not my son’s voice”!

Wives, on the other hand, see the hero, the achiever who beat the rest of the competition to win her heart.

Turai is looking at Umaru, the man whose political exploits were responsible for making her the First Lady of Katsina State for eight years and the First Lady of Nigeria! This is Umaru, whose occupation of Aso Villa is responsible for the marriage of two of her daughters to state governors.

This is Umaru, whose position as President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria helped her to project her own personal abilities as a quiet political force. This Umaru can, with the continued kind permission of The-One-Up-There, rule for another 65 months, during which the possibilities for the family and all its peripheries will remain countless. And this is the Umaru who will resign simply because he is sick? Impossible!

Turai does not love Umaru any less than Mama Yar’ Adua. Or better put, the wife’s love for the man is not inferior to that of his mother. It is a matter of perspectives. Turai has the big book of the family right in front of her. She is aware of what the family and its hangers-on will lose if the President resigns. There would be a tendency on her part to gamble to the maximum.

The same thing applies to members of the Federal Executive Council and all who Yar’ Adua gave jobs. For them another day the President lives is another day gained. They view the calls for the President’s resignation as the desperate antics of circling vultures. The death is a bazaar for vultures. The human political vultures are perching on rooftops and treetops waiting patiently. Some are ready to jump down in order to take vantage positions for the impending buffet.

The problem with human political vultures  is that they lack the equipment to sniff out the smell of impending death like their winged counterparts. God has withheld that power from them because unlike the birds they serve no sanitary purpose. Umaru might yet recover and return to work as he has done several times before. Then the vultures will scatter, disappointed yet again.

The saddest part of this Umaru Yar’ Adua story is that right from the day former President Olusegun Obasanjo dragged him into the presidential race, forcing all healthier and sounder contenders to step down, we all knew he was a terribly sick man. He had to be whisked to Germany while on the campaign trail! That such a man was allowed to become our President is our own fault. In saner countries it will never happen. We took it lying supine. We must pay.

To resign or not? The choice is Yar’ Adua’s. I doubt he will oblige his enemies.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.