By Tony Momoh
We lost our President on the night of May 5, and it was unfortunate that what many people felt was relief!  But Yar’Adua merited more from us than a sigh of relief that he had died!

He had shown early in his tenure that he was a man of truth, a man who seemed willing and ready, with the opportunity he had,  to make the difference between greed  and graft on the one hand and service to the people to ensure  their security and welfare on the other.  He seemed ready to prove that the people are the masters, not the servants we had reduced them to over time.

Only a man of truth would announce to the world on the day he took office that  the process that brought him to where he was, was flawed and that he would do something about it.  He did, by setting up the Uwais electoral reform panel which produced a report that many believe would, if fully implemented, fill the manholes we have dug to undermine, even subvert, what should be  the clear-cut procedures for choosing those the people want to govern them.

He did more, but later, this man of truth, this honest man, this servant leader began to be seen to do things that did not accord with the promises he made.  But time was going to tell that our man, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was ill, very ill and dying.

Those managing his affairs never ever told us that his health had become so bad that he could be pronounced dead on the night of May 5.  They had told us he was well enough to  play with his grandchildren, happily embrace his mother and go to his study for three hours!  Within 10 days from the time of that report, Nigeria was going to get a surprise!

What people expected was that within the 10 days, their President would have recuperated enough to announce his return to office.  What came to us was the announcement of the President’s death!

So, the managers of the health of our President, by their acts of deceit,  reduced him from the high position of a leader of a people to the lowly state of one who was so hungry for office that he preferred to be a museum piece that the keeper would display to those they hand picked.

See why the death of a man we ought to mourn by crying and tearing our hair and clothes had become  a relief!  Relief not because anyone wanted him dead and out of the way but relief because those who gained by telling lies about his state can now go to their homes and look for what to do.

What the departure of Yar’Adua means is that Jonathan is now in charge, not as Acting President, but as the one who must now assume full powers as head of state, chief executive of the country and commander in chief of its armed forces.

No one can now doubt that he is the one on whose table the buck stops.  The Constitution is clear that when the President is not there, by reason of death, the Vice President assumes the position of President and then nominates a Vice President for the approval of the Senate of the National Assembly. His tenure ends when the tenure of the late President would have ended, that is on May 29, 2011.

And what happens after May 29, 2011 is of great concern to me, and I think it should also be something all of us should think seriously about.  I can already hear the drumbeats, telling Jonathan that he is God-sent and so must contest the next election!

These drums, the drumming have been part of our system and have only grown in sophistication. They derailed General Yakubu Gowon who wanted to leave office after the war.  They told him about the programme of  reabsorbing  the Igbo into the Nigerian family which only he could successfully undertake.  So, the time he promised to return the country to civilian rule was no longer feasible.

He listened to the drummers, and fell.  Gen Olusegun Obasanjo did not fall for overstaying his welcome when he had to take over the mantle of office on the death of Murtala Mohammed.  He quit office in 1979 and was held in high esteem by the world.  It is this example of leaving office the time you are expected to that sustains Abdulsalaam Abubakar today.

There were pressures on him not to quit in 1999.  Gen Muhammadu Buhari had not made a commitment on return to civil rule before he was removed.  In fact, one of the reasons given for his removal was that he had no programme for return to civil rule.

Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s major sin is that he annulled an election he conducted.  And what has given Obasanjo a bad name today is the attempt he made, or that those who said they loved him made, to ensure he extended his tenure of office beyond the eight years the Constitution provides.

Now Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the President of Nigeria and the pressure will soon mount on him not to hand over power to anyone when the tenure ends on May 29, 2011.  The only way to ensure this is to ask for the ticket of his party, the PDP to contest the next elections.

This is my advice for Jonathan;  Don’t fall for the drumming of the diverters. These people I call diverters  are human beings alright, but they manifest their talents so persuasively that their victims only later, much, much later come to know that they had been taken for a ride.  Or more appropriately, used.  One thing about the diverters is that they know no shame.

They never lose sight of what they want.  Anybody, anything can be sacrificed to ensure that their interests are protected. But one day, just one day, the diverted comes to his senses and wonders whatever came over him when he was being diverted by the diverters.

President Jonathan must by now be persuaded beyond any doubt that  he is a child of fulfilment of a vision, a pencil in the hand of one whose power we cannot assess and undermine.  The day Jonathan undermines the guidance that has brought him to a level no seer would have been able to predict, that day he would be listed among those who were derailed by the diverters.

Obasanjo would have been what Jonathan can be if he remains a willing pencil in the Hand of the Director of cosmic programmes.  But Obasanjo failed.  He pushed his will above the Will of the Almighty he swore to serve if he ever got out of prison alive.  Ask him if you know him to deny that he made that promise to His Maker in his prison cell.

Ask him if I did not write to him to tell him of his promise, to beg him to fulfil his mission to restructure Nigeria so that it would become the next world power anchored on spiritual recognitions.  But Jonathan, not Obasanjo is the issue today.  His mission is to give us credible elections and he cannot do this if he contests.

One more important point for him to note – whoever wants to be his deputy must accept not to contest the next elections!

Both Jonathan and the Vice President must therefore organise the 2011 elections without contesting so that for once in a long time, we may have elections whose outcome both winners and losers would endorse.  And then, Jonathan’s name will be written in gold and anything he wants thereafter will be there for the taking.  Is age not on his side?

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