By Dele Sobowale

“All men like best to join up with the power that is the first to show its strength”. Xenophon, 430-370 B.C.

Two names will not appear on the ballot papers for president in 2011 – Yar’Adua and Jonathan. The first, is for obvious reasons; the second, for reasons not to be disclosed yet. They are there nevertheless like a huge rock blocking a pass.

But, mark my words; the two are on their way out. In particular, Jonathan’s run of good luck has just come to an end.

In 2011, he will be neither President nor VP. So the field is wide open for all those with presidential or Vice Presidential ambitions. Within the PDP, the fight promises to be a tough one. But, in the end, the prize might eventually go to the north – a northern governor for that matter.

However, irrespective of whether you are a governor or not, but you have ambition, start now. And start by getting in touch. I have a few things to discuss with any person ambitious enough to want to be President of Nigeria – few of which are for public consumption.

Enough has been said for now. Let us move to another subject.

“Leadership is the ability to define issues without aggravating the problems”.
Warren Bennis,in The Unconscious Conspiracy, 1980.
..Nigeria’s dying now! North/South issue’s mainly been PDP affair, and may be for equity BUT the signs aren’t there! Southerners are killed in Islam’s name, same in governance etc! Now it’s NORTHERN UNION, soon it’would be S/West Union, S/East Union, S/South Union, Niger Delta Union! We’re tired! Split Nigeria now!”.

Of all the text messages and letters I have received since this column began in 1994; some personally abusive; none has brought tears to my eyes as the text message above. Undoubtedly, the frustration demonstrated was in response to the latest mayhem in Jos – even while the ashes of the last uprising had not been fully cleared. Worse still, the latest outbreak of violence occurred against the background of the uncertainties pertaining to who, if anyone, is in charge in the Presidency.

Vice President Jonathan sent in the troops and already the legality of that measure is being called to question. Unfortunately, the VP failed to take another step which acting Presidents, sure of their powers, would have taken. He did not deliver an address to the nation to provide the reassurance that the citizenry needs if the fear of collateral damage was not to become a reality.

Once again, voices, like those of the text message above are being heard by people calling for a break-up of the country –as if it were a simple matter. But, the frustration is real and it requires a leader to step forward and prove to the people that government is in control.

Again, unfortunately, the Yar’Adua presidency is a house divided against itself. On the one hand we have a President whose voice has become an inaudible whisper and so cannot project the strength that will provide reassurance to his listeners. On the other hand, we have a VP, whose voice is naturally strong but has been reduced to another whisper by the politics of power being played by the PDP and the cabal that has grabbed Nigeria by the scrotum. Those who claim that there is no power vacuum should tell us whose voice was heard loud and clear as Jos, once again, went up in flames.

Yet, despite the failure of leadership, even in the midst of this current disaster, we need to keep our wits about us. The text message probably came from a Christian because of the reference to “killing in the name of Islam”. I am a Christian myself; even an Evangelist (if it matters), but, like virtually all those from the Southwest, my extended family is almost evenly divided between Christians, Muslims and we even have practitioners of traditional religions. Not once in my almost 66 years of existence have I experienced Muslims in Yorubaland killing anyone in the name of Islam.

At any rate, the leaders of the religion have repeatedly stated, and I have reasons to believe them, that Islam does not support killing for no just cause. That alone should provide us reasons for hope –even in the present grim circumstances. We should be comforted that the majority of people on both sides of the religious divide are not mass murderers. To me that is the kind of message which the Nigerian president, incumbent or acting, should be delivering at every conceivable opportunity until normalcy is restored once again to Jos.

At any rate, at the risk of sounding as if I don’t sympathise with those who lost loved ones and properties, let me state categorically now that the consequences of a break-up of Nigeria would be worse than whatever we are experiencing now. The current situation, tragic as it is, has only been aggravated by the fact we have a presidency divided against itself because the president and his advisers have chosen not to temporarily relinquish power to his VP. This is not a matter of law or the constitution – it is a matter of common sense. Unfortunately, even that useful ingredient for leadership is apparently in short supply at the presidency and within the PDP. So Nigeria drifts towards calamity.

“He who speaks  without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good”.
Confucius, 551-479 B.C.

When early last year “my brother Engineer Babalola, the Minister for Power, promised to deliver 6000 MW of power by December 2009, I warned him on these pages that he was treading the same foot paths of former ministers from our dear late Chief Bola Ige to Liyel Imoke. Ige promised uninterrupted power supply by December 1999. That was in June of the same year. He failed. Imoke vowed to deliver 10,000 MW by 2007. Well, he is still busy promising the people of Cross River oil wells which to which they are not likely to get.

All these were made known to Babalola.  However, I have long realized that advising public officials who are bent on disgracing themselves is a waste of time. As one of my favourite Italian proverbs has told us, “Washing a donkey’s head is a waste of water”. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p.42). Even until middle of December, Babalola was still telling those who cared to listen (excluding Area Boys who know a hoax when one is about to happen) that 6,000 MW would be delivered. It took the Chief Economic Adviser to break the bad news to us. To me it was no news really because after “con-soludo-tion”, I have learnt to expect anything from these guys in designer suits talking glibly about things they know little about.

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