By Ochereome Nnanna
MEDIA reports that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia refused the Federal Executive Council (FEC) six-man delegation the rights for their presidential jet to land indicates that those who benefit from our political impasse are still hard at work. Before we go into that, let us even ponder the reported denial of landing rights.
As at Monday, February 22, 2010 when I wrote this article, we were still waiting for the Saudi authorities to clear the air on exactly what happened. Did they really do as reported? If they did, it would come as a shock for many reasons. Saudi Arabia is one of the most respected and responsible members of the international community, a great friend of Nigeria and spiritual destination for about 75 million Nigerians. The Islamic kingdom has been generous with Yarâ€™ Adua and his family, allowing him to use the health facility reserved for their king.
Up till now, few had reason to implicate the Saudis for the inability of the various concerned groups, including governors, PDP chiefs and a delegation of the House of Reps from seeing the President. However, this reported denial of landing rights changes everything.
It smacks of collusion by the Saudis with the so-called cabal that has stood in the way of moving the nation forward since Yarâ€™ Adua was admitted. Even from my laymanâ€™s point of understanding, landing rights are denied flights either when they might endanger the security or other strategic interests of a state or if the flight is coming from a clearly identified enemy source. It is a way of telling the sponsors of the flight that they are not welcome.
Since this delegation was made up of members of Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s own cabinet which was coming with a message of appreciation from the Nigerian government to their Saudi counterparts, stopping them might not be unconnected with the anti-Nigeria script which made it impossible for Yarâ€™ Adua to transmit a letter of medical vacation. Some groups or persons, such as over-ambitious Hajiya Turai Yarâ€™ Adua, might be behind this.
She probably made an emotional appeal to the Saudi leaders, letting them know that as soon as the delegation departed for home, the removal of her husband from power would begin.
I suspect Turai because she was the one recently quoted as saying her husband had recovered well enough to exercise for 30 minutes.
This was a mimicry of the fib that her husband sold us in 2006 when he challenged those doubting his fitness to a game of squash rackets. If the President had recuperated to the point of exercising (any manner of exercise at all), I am sure he would go the extra mile to let Nigerians and the entire world see and hear him. There would be no point to stay hidden.
Nigerians are losing their patience with him. Showing himself to the various stakeholders that have been visiting would greatly help to reassure us and replace anxiety with expectancy.
This latest rebuff of efforts to see Yarâ€™Adua and know how we stand with him is another indication that the small group that surrounds him would do anything to hang on to this costly pretension, not minding the amount of damage it is causing to millions of Nigerians. Nigerians should let them know they have had enough.
The Presidency, recently visiting US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice explained, is bigger than the President. But the Yarâ€™ Adua cabal is putting it the other way up. A consequence of this is that Nigeria now has what Prince Tony Momoh described in his column last Sunday as a â€œsole administratorâ€ in the person of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan; a situation that is both dangerous, unconstitutional and unacceptable.
Having a president without a vice president is like having a head without a neck. Who will be in charge if Jonathan has to attend an important event abroad? In Nigeria, we have a zoning arrangement in place. Because of the secretive intransigence of the Yarâ€™ Adua cabal, the North West Zone is denied of its right to occupy its slot. This nation cannot continue to observe the Constitution in its breach because of the troubles of one person.
It is time we said goodbye to the Yarâ€™ Adua presidency. He has done his bit. While it lasted, it was not the best performing presidency Nigeria ever had. But this nation enjoyed some peace unlike in the dispensation of his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo. Yarâ€™ Adua was a peaceable man who did his best to carry as much of every section of this country along (with the exception of his lopsided appointments which favoured his geopolitical section).
He listened to good advice and was able to bring the Niger Delta conflict to a peaceful end through his amnesty programme. Yarâ€™ Adua was working hard on the energy sector and had contributed more than any other post-1983 leader in repairing our power infrastructure. But for his ill-health, Yarâ€™ Adua was poised to give Nigeria result-oriented leadership.
Unfortunately, his sickness became bigger than his human circumstances could withstand.
The mistake he made (a costly and unfortunate one at that) was that people around him capitalised on his acute indisposition to plunge the country into a constitutional impasse. Only the necessary action taken by the National Assembly in transferring power to Jonathan saved us from a possible military intervention.
With the treatment meted to the FEC team, we expect the federal cabinet to activate Section 144 of the Constitution. Where that proves too difficult because of these denials of access to the president, the Senate and House of Representatives should commence immediate impeachment processes.
There is an abundance of misconducts upon which to nail the peg of impeachment.