By Tony Momoh
I am used to reading about history being made when there are a hundred or thousand steps and each step is counted as a building block that led to the hall of fame where the records are stored. So there is this painstaking build-up, and accumulation of positive acts of the ones who were part of the history that was made.Â
At the last count, you heave a sigh of relief and pray for those who came, worked, left their marks on the sands of time and quit the stage, and are celebrated as part of the history that had come to be made.
One thing about such records is that they may point in one direction and relate to a brief moment in the life of one man, a family, an institution.
But the point is that in looking at the records of time, something is registered for that actor as a man, as a family, as an institution, even as a people.
The point at issue in the records or material for the building blocks of history today is the man Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua. Whether we like it or not, he is already emerging on the records of time with a name that will brand him.
Those who are experts in these fields will already be putting together what slot in the annals he will fit into â€“ those who made it or those who did not make it?
There may well be a slot for those who were not allowed to make it.Â But in the first term of the Yarâ€™Adua presidency, can we say he made it, did not make it or was not allowed to make it?
It is obvious from the situation we have on our hands in respect of him that we would be unfair to assert that he made it, did not make it or was not allowed to make it.
The first question is what was he supposed to make?Â He was supposed to join the great list of those who ruled this country, and then find out what he did with the position he occupied.Â We can move back in time and find out what those who helped him into that position may have expected of him.
The records show that he came from an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina State.Â His father was the first ever and only Minister forÂ Lagos during the First Republic. His father held the royal title of the Custodian of the Treasury (Mutawalli).
He was born in 1951 when drums of true democracy were being beaten and the Macpherson Constitution was being midwifed.
By the time we achieved independence, opted to be a republic in 1963, fought an avoidable civil war which almost destroyed this country, before we tried to put it back to work in the 70s, Umaru had, as a young man growing up, been exposed to the most extreme and contradictory patterns of rulership â€“ the conservative and feudal of his father and the socialist and liberal of his friends.
Anyone who has been through the portals of Government College, Keffi, Barewa College and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria will never be in doubt that the products did not only pass through quality institutions, but also that those institutionsâ€™ norms were infused into them.
Their ability to hold their own on any and every issue could therefore be doubted only by those who did not know those institutions and what they were set out to do in national governance.Â Now, go back in time and see what someoneÂ said about an unknown Umaru who had been picked overwhelmingly as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party in December 2006.
Dan Azumi Kofarmata Kano wrote on November 18, 2006 : â€œGovernor Umaru has impeccable credentials as a largely transparent, honest and humble person. It is perhaps these qualities that may endear him to the Nigerian electorate to elect him as the next President of Nigeria in 2007.
These are the desirable credentials that our leaders must have to lead Nigeria â€“ perhaps, the continentâ€™s most difficult and trying country to rule in this 21st Century.Â For a man who was born in a very difficult geographical terrain and has witnessed over the years first hand, the debilitating effect of poverty on people, he is guided by the vision and belief that, governance is useless if the well-being of the ordinary rural and urban people is not positively impacted upon.
It is this abiding conviction that has continued to shape his style of governance in Katsina in the last seven and half years or so. He will draw from those lessons and experiences if given the peopleâ€™s mandate to be the next President of Nigeria.â€
Donâ€™t ask me if he was given the mandate.Â The truth is that he is there, and has been there since May 29, 2007.Â It would be unkind and unfair and even destructive to say that he did nothing since he climbed that rocky horse.Â Many are the decisions he took that must have embarrassed the one who pulled him up there, but these were decisions that showed clearly a path he wanted to take, one that would put him among the list of those who came to a position and made it.
But Umaru has not been given a fair chance to give us what he can because of his health.Â We can therefore not judge him as one who had been a successful head of state of the federation because for more than 74 days (at the time of writing) since he left these shores, his people have not seen him in public to do the work of a head of state, to be seen to run the country from day to day as its chief executive, and to show to us and the world that he is in visible command of our armed forces.
We have not seen him and we do not know where he can be reached so that we can table before him the oath of allegiance he took to defend the constitution of the federal republic and the rule of law which were his chosen anchors for the work he promised to do for us during his tenure.Â We have not seen him to know whether he ever sent anyone to tell us that he is conscious of his work.
We do not even know whether he is alive, and if so, whether he is aware that because of his absence, all the organs of government are failing to do what they are supposed to do, and are even being manoeuvred to do the very opposite.
We do not know why, for instance, the Federal Executive Council which has power only to say he is not well so that a medical team can be raised to prove it , would pass a resolution that he is well!Â Why, toÂ satisfy a courtâ€™s demand that they do so within two weeks of such request.
We do not know why a court that has no power to seek such a resolution would do so, nor are we aware why many other bodies that are in a position to do what the Constitution says should be done to stabilise the polity, are dancing round the solution. Why shouldÂ the Senate of the National AssemblyÂ ask the President to hand over power to the Vice President.
And stop at that when they have power to punish gross misconduct of the President through impeachment, which leaving office without due process amounts to.Â So we see, everyone is refusing to do their work because of narrow interests they want to protect.
We all have lost our sense of history, of the destabilising effect of the return of the military; the massive dislocations associated with massive movements of displaced persons which the whole ECOWAS sub-region cannot accommodate; of losing outright the gains of lawmaking in the last 10 years in spite of mistakes here and there. We know our President is not in that state of health to give orders and ensure their obedience.
If he were, he would not destroy his integrity, the familyâ€™s record as keepers of the peopleâ€™s treasury simply because he wants to rule this country! But history will not be kind to him enough to say they did it for him!Â History willÂ say he was there!Â And did it!