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Yar’Adua: From President to problem(2)

By Dele Sobowale
“Successful leaders at all levels love their status and power and are hesitant to leaving voluntarily”.
Jack Welch, Chairman, General Electric Company, 1988.

This second part of the series could easily have been entitled THE LAME DUCK PRESIDENCY, and it would still have been appropriate. But, why change the title of the series? Why lame duck will soon be explained anyway.

As the first part of this series was about to be concluded, two news items hit the airwaves. First, was the march led by Professor Wole Soyinka; people demanding a change from the present constitutional and administrative impasse in Abuja.

The second was the purported interview by BBC Hausa with Yar’Adua –the day before the march on Abuja. It is quite possible that the uncanny coincidence was lost on others; but not on me. I strongly believe that the purported interview was planned to take the sails out of the protest march on Abuja. And its authenticity is highly doubtful; it was probably a master trick by experts on bending the truth.

One Mr. Tangaza, Editor of BBC Hausa (let us leave for now asking the question why the British established only a BBC Hausa and not a BBC Birom, Efik or Igala or any other Nigerian language for that matter) had tried to convince us that the interview conducted with President Yar’Adua without a single BBC staff setting eyes on the man was genuine. Well, I have news for Tangaza.

Somewhere in my library, which cannot now be accessed because this is being written on the road, there is a book entitled THE TRUTH BENDERS by Ronald Seth, which provide details of how the British Secret Service, during the Second World War, launched a propaganda radio station aimed at the Germans.

One character was someone called De Chef, whose voice mimicked that of Adolf Hitler so well, German soldiers in the field, to whom the British Broadcasts were directed, never knew that the person speaking was an English man born in Germany and broadcasting from Britain.

The defence that Tangaza, in a letter to the DAILY TRUST on January 15, 2010, gave to prove the authenticity of the interview gave all the necessary conditions for us to accept the interview as genuine – but they were insufficient because the world of the Secret Services or the National Intelligence Agencies of this world had advanced even more than it did during the last world war that any interview, short of face-to-face interview, (and even that) must be suspect.

And with all due respect to the BBC Hausa edition, this one is highly suspect for two reasons. First thousands of people can be trained to sound like Yar’Adua and the timing was also suspect. Tangaza should answer two questions: Why did Yar’Adua wait until the eve of a march on Abuja to remember he had a country to run? And he still failed to inform a people who wanted to know the truth about his condition?

The interview was a load of pabulum – if you ask me.

Even the interview as recorded failed to answer the most pressing questions pertaining to governance in Nigeria today. Has he given the Vice President a free hand to act in his stead? Or is he still in charge –as inexplicable as that might be judging from the voice, real or simulated, that we heard on that so- called interview? To be candid, the voice we heard is one of a man fighting for his life.

And when a man is fighting for his life, he cannot be in control of anything but his breathing – and may be not even that. Even his life support units are manipulated by other people; he is as helpless as a baby. Certainly, that is not the hand to man the rudder of the ship of state – to avert shipwreck.

Nigeria’s envoy to Saudi, poor fellow, had once again proved right the observation by Sir Henry Wolton, 1568-1639, who said, “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country”. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p.9). Nothing has changed since Wolton died in the 17th century. Envoys still tell tall tales to everyone –including their own fellow countrymen in the course of duty.

The Nigerian ambassador has told us so many times that “the President will soon return” or words to that effect, that one now smiles when he repeats it again like a broken record. The truth is Turai has not allowed the ambassador within four closed doors of  Yar’Adua –wherever that might be. For all we know, it might not even be in the hospital we have set our eyes on.

My Area boy instincts tell me that we have our eyes glued to the wrong door. Nobody is watching the backdoor!!! Ummh!!

Meanwhile, it is clear that irrespective of where Umoru is, and regardless of his present condition, we have on our hands what the Americans call a lame duck president; but in addition, we also have a lame duck Vice President. Take it from me; neither of the two will be in Aso Rock or the proposed Vice Presidential Villa by June 1, 2011. Unfortunately, we have from now until May 29, 2011 to work our way out of the mess which Obasanjo created by imposing, in his usual father-knows-best attitude, a previously sick person as president – a job which breaks the health of even the sturdiest of men.

Last week the man reportedly clapped his hands, clown-fashion, when asked about Yar’Adua by reporters at the airport. Don’t blame Obasanjo; blame the reporters who don’t know when to leave bad-enough alone. The man created the problem; it is foolish to expect him to provide the solution. Why not just greet him, “good afternoon, sir” each time he arrives at the airport and let him go. He belongs to the past; a distant past it seems to me. We should face the future…..

This series could also have been entitled “AFTER YAR’ADUA, WHO NEXT?” and it would have been appropriate. But, let’s stick with what first came to the head. The blockheads who started working on Yar’Adua’s second term should now go and find something else to do. They sound like fans still expecting their striker to return for the second half of a football match long after the man is in the intensive care unit with 20 minutes to go in the first half. Nobody is God; and the Almighty has worked miracles before.

Allah’s miracle for Yar’Adua, for which I fervently pray, should be that our President will return home alive; and not in a box. And I strongly believe millions of Nigerians join me in that prayer. However, heavens help those who help themselves.

President Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924, the 28th American President had made this observation. “Men of ordinary physique and discretion cannot be Presidents and live; if the stress be not somehow relived”. Yar’Adua, at the moment possesses less than ordinary physique. To be quite candid, he possesses none at the moment. And the stress in modern times is a lot more than what presidents experienced in Wilson’s years in office.

Only a sadist will want Yar’Adua to continue in office; only someone imbued with the martyr complex would want to return to Aso Rock after over two months in intensive care as Yar’Adua has done. So; the field is open. Yar’Adua will not be a candidate in 2011; neither will Jonathan — for reasons not to be disclosed now.


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