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Carve her name with pride

By Donu Kobgara
NEWSPAPERS cannot always be totally up-to-date. Sometimes, important current affairs developments occur during or shortly after the printing process; and I had already submitted last week’s column for publication when it was announced that Prof. Dora Akunyili, the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications, had dropped a bombshell at last week’s the Federal Executive Council meeting.

I want to seize this opportunity to, a) belatedly congratulate this fantastic Madame for gutsily doing the right thing and b) heap contempt on the self-serving characters  (Aondoakaa, the Attorney General, for example) who have tried to undermine her reputation because they bitterly resent her for daring to tell the truth about a lengthy Presidential absence that has generated so much tension.

Imagine all those Big Government Boys who are supposed to be Men of Substance timidly shilly-shallying for how many weeks on end and disappointing a nation that yearns for proper leadership and then being totally outclassed by a lone lady!

The average Nigerian is WAY too passive and tolerant for my liking. Heroes are very thin on the ground in this country; and the small handful of individuals who stick their necks out and take risks on society’s behalf when our collective wellbeing is under threat should be enthusiastically thanked and applauded.

Courageous activist lawyers, writers, etc, such as Prof. Wole Soyinka and Femi Falana make extremely valuable contributions by loudly crying “foul!” and protesting in concrete ways whenever those who rule us misbehave; but these civil rights champions have a limited impact because the “Insiders” who work within our insufficiently democratic system rarely respond appropriately to valid criticisms…

…And it has been mightily refreshing to watch Prof. Dora sensitively reacting to the public mood and using her access to the corridors of power to shake up her colleagues and force them to confront issues that need to be confronted.

More thoughts for today

I DON’T wish President Yar’Adua any harm. I feel that he is an essentially decent human
being from a respectable home who has done a few good things.

Regular readers of this column may recall the praise I lavished on him when he humbly communicated with Niger Delta militants and persuaded them to lay down their arms. I was convinced that his heart was in the right place…and that the amnesty deal would, if handled well, wind up becoming a major achievement.

But a time comes when it is time to bow out graciously and allow someone else to run the show. Whether we are parents or heads of state, we all run out of strength, eventually, and need to hand over to our children or subordinates.

Some of us are compelled to quit centre-stage and take a back seat because of old age, others because of illness. And there is no shame or failure attached to retiring from the hurly-burly of active service when it becomes obvious that we are too frail to carry on with arduous responsibilities. Shame and failure only enter the picture when we or those around us refuse to go without an unseemly fight.

It is shamefully unpatriotic to behave as if you have a divine right to rule…and as if your personal, family or ethnic interests are more important than Nigeria as a whole. It is a huge failure to go down in history as a bunch of greedy, daft, morally deficient die-hard megalomaniacs who tried to hold l50 million people to ransom..

The now-infamous Yar’Adua cabal’s determination to cling to power at all costs and insult our intelligence by inflicting massive deceits on the nation has seriously discredited them and disgusted all reasonable citizens and international observers..

Most Nigerians and most foreign stakeholders do not wish to put themselves in the firing line by openly attacking potentially dangerous oppressors. But I know that I speak for many when I say NO to painful tyranny, NO to rampant dishonesty, NO to nonsensical cabalists and GLORY BE TO GOD for recent developments.

Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s elevation to Acting President is necessary and welcome because he is a genuinely nice person and real gentleman with a sound brain who has conducted himself laudably since his sick boss took off to Saudi Arabia last November; and he can definitely be trusted to steer the ship of state competently.

But I am not entirely happy about the status quo.

David Mark, the Senate President, has breezily assured the folks who fear that Yar’Adua has effectively been removed from the top job that their fears are unfounded. And I don’t understand why Mark is providing this assurance, given that Yar’Adua has been almost completely incommunicado for nearly three months.

Shouldn’t Mark be talking about the urgent need to send a delegation (that includes politically neutral doctors) to Jeddah to find out whether Yar’Adua can ever return to his desk? Shouldn’t Mark be saying that should Yar’Adua turn out to be as physically/mentally impaired as many of us suspect him to be, he will (sadly) have to be pushed (impeached) if he is neither willing nor able to jump (resign)?


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