By Tony Momoh
I do not know when lawyers and journalists will be permitted to see our president. The clerics have seen him, both Muslim and Christian.   They must be the ones at the top of the ladder of the holy.   We here, on distant earth from heaven, call them the men of God.

Are they not the ones who man our churches and  our mosques?  Are they not the ones God is supposed to listen to because they speak His language, which is prayer, more fluently than the un-ordained?

So, if it is true that in the order in which the selective invitations go out for a visit to Aso Rock where the President is detained, yes detained, then I have no doubt in my mind that at the bottom of the ladder will be the journalist and the lawyer.  They are the  Thomas Didymuses.  They don’t believe until they see.  But both of them have two different approaches to resolving issues when they are in doubt.  The lawyer files a motion in court for the court to interpret the doubt.

The journalist is told to “leave out” when in doubt.  But the case  of our ailing president is creating problems for the lawyer and the journalist, the more the family and managers of his health refuse to let him be out of sight so he can recuperate.   What “recuperate” means is what the matter really is.  You see, when our president went to Saudi Arabia, even before he left, there seemed to have been a decision to protect him so that people would not know that he has a health problem.  That was the most deadly mistake they made.

The deceiving started with the report that our president was going to Saudi Arabia to perform the lesser Hajj.  No one told us he would be going to hospital for any check-up.  The prayer warriors would have mounted their podiums if they had known that he had that much serious health problem.  Was he not doing well – the cancellation of all those k-legged policies outgoing President Obasanjo loaded us with, from the rushed sale of our refineries to the questionable funding of our power projects.

With his seven-point agenda, he seemed to have thrown out the economic reform dream of Obasanjo, the  National  Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS).   Though clumsily structured, the agenda was a serious enough programme that was, if nothing else, ready to attend to the Niger Delta problem, and whether it was advisable or not, there was the Niger Delta Ministry to address the problem.   He set up what many thought was an army of occupation in the area, but having recognised that no army can win a war in the creeks, he opted for peace which led to the amnesty that brought many of the militants from their bases where they had become governments unto themselves.

Although we were told that the President was hail and hearty, as they say, and those newspapers that expressed concern about his health status were questioned and even taken to court, those who knew when the president assumed office on May 29, 2007, could not deny that our man was under tremendous pressure.  He was being drained, and you could see it.

So, after he returned from Saudi Arabia where he had spent 17 days, it seemed that those managing his welfare had noticed a deterioration in his health but would not want the people to know it. That “quarrel” between the House and the Senate as to where the president should present his budget was obviously not genuine.

They wanted to protect the President. How embarrassing it would have been if he had collapsed while presenting the budget!  So his sudden evacuation to Saudi Arabia on November 23 was a most critical aspect of a situation which had been clothed in secrecy.

From the litany of claims after the BBC interview, it is not difficult to know that there is something those close to Yar’Adua do not want us to know.  If we speculate, it is not our fault but the fault of those who know why Yar’Adua is not in hospital, but in the residence of the president.  The president is president because of the work the constitution asks him to do, and his ability to do it.  That is why there are provisions for disengagement from the work — through resignation, death, impeachment or incapacity arising from ill-health.  No one prays for ill-health, but when the situation arises, we do what should be done, go to hospital.

What has been happening since our president was smuggled into Nigeria in the dark of the night is ugly and demeaning.  But it has solved one problem and that is that Yar’Adua did come to the country and is in Aso Rock, recuperating.  And that is the rub.  To recuperate is to recover, to convalesce, to get better.  Since our president left these shores last November, everyone who went there or purported to have heard from him, said he was recuperating.

The governors forum delegation, the party delegation, the House of Representatives team, all went there, did not see him, but returned to say they were told he is recuperating. Even on one occasion, the media were told, and they published it, that the President had spoken to the Vice President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House and some of the service chiefs.

He had told them he was recuperating. The bubble burst when Information Minister Dora Akunyili said she could no longer live the lie that the president was well and recuperating.  A ministerial team sent to Saudi Arabia would have come back with information on the president, but the managers of his health knew the game was up and rushed him back in the dead of the night.

Another segment of the programme to have him in office to distract attention from the workload which his administration, whether he is there or not, would be judged on, began with information that he would start work on the day he returned.  The chair at Council chamber was even secured for him by his aides. He did not come and the cabinet had to put off its work.

How greedy can people be?  But the distraction was to take other forms.  The president  would go to mosque on a Friday, and they even pulled out the presidential motorcade and drove round Abuja!  Someone is committing treason by trying to cause confusion and destabilise the country and we have been looking.  Now, a selective viewing of our man we gave the mandate, because the courts said so, is on.

And the managers of his health are responsible for who calls, who attends to distract attention from governance. The lawyers and journalists are waiting for their turn.  They may be the least holy, at the bottom of the ladder, but they will ask questions. They won’t be satisfied with just looking in, being told that the man on the chair is their president because he stretched out a limp hand and waved to them and grunted an Amen to a prayer he may not have been conscious enough to hear.

If he is recuperating, then the state he is in now, in which he cannot speak to those calling on him or get up to welcome them, must be an improvement on what it had been since he left the shores of this country.  A sick person goes to hospital.  Aso Rock is not a hospital, and the greed of the president’s health managers should not blind them to that fact.  If he recovers, he will return to his job.

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