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Na like dis we go dey dey?

By Rotimi Fasan
THINKING about the corner into which those who rule in the name of the people have painted themselves and the rest of us, I’m forced to ask if this is how we intend to carry on, which is the literal translation of the title of today’s discourse, rendered in pidgin.

The title is taken from a line of a song, Se na like dis by one of our hip-hop singers, Wande Coal. In that song, Coal ruminates on the dysfunctional state of our nation, and continually asks if things would change for the better or Se na like dis we go dey dey? Thematising our state of being and the existential issues we have to battle with as Nigerians are some of the redeeming values of contemporary music in Nigeria.

These values as expressed in the music of the present generation of Nigerian singers are too often effaced if not erased by the overt Americanisms (linguistic, sartorial and attitudinal) of these performers which are what most older people tend to see.

But beneath the loud noises of many of these songs lie unvarnished truths and observations on how we live.  Looking at how things are going now in Nigeria, I keep asking myself if we can afford to go on like this. It’s been two months since our President took ill.

And from what ailment nobody knows but which his aides assure us is acute pericarditis (which is surely a lie), necessitating his going in search of a cure in a place that has no name. Most say it’s Saudi Arabia while others believe it’s somewhere either in Europe or the Americas.

Yet others believe that the worst has happened and we’re only being taken for a ride by people presently engaged in the frantic alignment and realignment of forces for alike available and unavailable positions. Not even the President’s interview with the BBC in which all evidence point to an acutely ailing man, no thanks to his feeble, barely audible voice, which some believe belonged to another- not even the interview could assuage people’s anxiety and/or anger.

Umaru Yar’Adua, who came into office as Nigeria’s President in 2007, is spending his second month out of this country without anyone, not even his deputy, acting for him or knowing his whereabouts. The President is content to govern in absentia despite the fact that the Nigerian Constitution makes no provision for such strange arrangement.

The President’s minders, particularly his Attorney-General and Minister of Justice whose understanding of the law gets more suspect by the day even as he continually flaunts his inverted knowledge in everybody’s face, as he did recently in the High Court where he referred to what more knowledgeable lawyers say is the Executive Council of the Federation as the Federal Executive Council- the AGF continually stands the law on its head in his bid to prove his loyalty, not to Nigeria, but the President and a clique who in decent places would be on their way to jail for subverting the constitution of the country.

Because of Michael Aondoakaa’s crass disregard of the law he was appointed to uphold, the polity has witnessed all sorts of strange happenings such as the swearing-in of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Aloysius Katsina-Alu and his Appeal Court counterpart, Isa Ayo Salami, by the former Chief Justice, Idris Legbo Kutigi. It was the first time in the history of this country that an outgoing CJF would swear in his successor. Other illegalities have since been perpetrated.

And we have Yar’Adua to thank for these. Surely the President is not averse to making such dubious record even when his tenure has distinguished itself in no particular way but in its wilful mediocrity.

The same President, a supposed stickler for the dual principles of due process and the rule of law, is alleged to have endorsed the Supplementary Budget prepared by the National Assembly from his sick bed in Saudi Arabia (?); same place from where (again allegedly) he had a tête-à-tête with the one who might be president, his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, for a few presidential minutes two months after his disappearance (or is it abscondment?).

In his absence, the energy crisis he left behind by way of fuel scarcity has worsened without anybody knowing the next thing to do. Has the government deregulated the downstream sector of the oil industry in disguise leading to the scarcity or is it marketers that are fishing in troubled waters, hoarding the product or diverting it elsewhere? These are matters to which one guess is as good as another.

Even worse, while Nigerians were yet mulling over the mysterious case of a would-be bomber who got it in the neck after his lethal baggage went off on him in a TV station in Lagos, the brainwashed silverspoon turned would-be mass-suicide, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, would bring down the whole house with his botched attempt to blow-up an airline with nearly 300 people on board in Detroit and thereby winning Nigeria yet another dubious medal as one of several states sponsoring terrorism. Our President so far has nothing to say on these.

While Nigerians have had to contend with this state of affairs in the last two months with nobody sure of when and if things would change, one thing many are sure of is that things would have taken a different turn were the President around.

Not because Yar’Adu has a magic wand- but his presence would at least have saved us all the contrived constitutional crisis in which everybody is now their own boss and no one is in charge. The annoying thing about it all is that the President (all thanks to those speaking in his name) has carried on as if there is something which says the presidency is a family office to be run in good or bad health.

Even for positions with far less consequences for the collective destiny of a people, applicants are required to be in excellent health to say nothing of the president of a country. Yar’Adua might have stayed off duty, as it’s been alleged in certain quarters, for two (or six?) months while governor of sleepy Katsina, but can somebody tell him or the lickspittles around him that being Nigeria’s president is not a birthright- or we would all be president.

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