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Is Yar’Adua Really Back?

By Ikeddy Isiguzo, Chairman Editorial Board
IT may actually require another Doctrine of Necessity to resolve the political blockage that is emerging from the supposed return of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to Abuja in the early hours of Wednesday.

Nobody has seen the President, nobody is sure of the content of the Saudi presidential air ambulance nor what was taken off it to the presidential villa 40km from the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport. The flurry of activities at the airport, the timeless waiting for the arrival, the rambunctious entry and departure of a presidential ambulance that was said to have evacuated someone to the presidential villa , has been doused by the absence of a statement from the President.

What Segun Adeniyi, the President’s media aide issued, thanking Nigerians for their support cannot pass for that statement. It is almost impolite for a President who has been away for three months to return to the country in this inelegant way.

Though the President departed the country last November 23 under clouds of darkness, his return in similar manner on Wednesday has deepened the mystery around the Yar’Adua presidency. While we are fervently wishing the man good health, it may be necessary to ask what the man really wants.

Is he in a position to answer any questions about his desires? Do we now have a President who only works by proxy? Have we fallen into the spell of some power mongers who would prop up the President for as long as it takes to achieve their blinkered goals?

Are we not going to wait in vain for a letter from the President? Would another BBC interview substitute for a written transmission of his intention to return to work? These are really tenuous times and many of us are making light of them.

President Yar’Adua and his supporters have set too many dangerous precedents about the powers of the President. The way they have twisted provisions of the Constitution to suit their purposes have revealed the weaknesses of the Constitution, as well as the wiliness of Nigerian politicians.

After Yar’Adua, it would be almost impossible to sanction any President in Nigeria. A man is absent from the most powerful seat in Nigeria for 90 days, and the country suspends itself in eager expectation of the fulfillment of his wishes, though Nigerians remained clueless about his state.

One morning, he slips into the country in a haze of darkness and makes his way to the presidential villa he had left cold.

Again, the country is back to waiting for him. Will he speak? Won’t he speak? What would he say? When would he say it? Is he still the President? Is he in a position to transmit a letter to the National Assembly? Is he well enough to assume office?

The silence is deafening. Nigerians have been alienated from the affairs of their country. The National Assembly that appeared to have saved this country would, if it does not act fast,  discover that the cancer it thought it excised is re-growing with a worrisome defiance.

What would the President be doing in the presidential villa? Can he give instructions? Whose communication would the National Assembly entertain? Who is the Commander-in-Chief? Who would the international community recognise? Will the Constitution accommodate a President and acting President?

Will the President’s statement that referred to Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President be lost on anyone who is judging Yar’Adua’s determination to cling to power?

The world is amused, Nigerians are bemused, and it is typical of the way we operate, defying commonsense and reason.  There is no time to waste blaming anyone for anything any longer. The country has transited into another dangerous phase. We were asking for the return of the President without understanding the unlimited borders of the requests we were pressed into making of  the Almighty.

Nigeria cannot afford the wastefulness of a constitutional crisis. The setting is ripe for a confusing power show that would draw justifications from all the evils that religion and sectionalism offer to those whose desperation ignore all limits.

The solution to the vanishing presidency of the past two years is to get President Yar’Adua to tell Nigerians, in his own words what he wants and how we can help him get there. At the moment, the only one who is competent to tell us that the President is back is the President himself.

We have not seen him, we have not heard him (in more than three months) and we have every right to wonder if he is really back.


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