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Yar’Adua: End of self-deceit

By Dele Sobowale
“And I know now that humankind marks certain people for death. Against them they shut the door”. Saul Bellow. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p.31).

“O what a tangled web we weaveWhen first we practice to deceive”. Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832 (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p.35).

May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.  That Yar’Adua died is no news to me; that he lasted so long is the news and that his wife allowed him to die the way he did is also the second major news. She and her advisers robbed the man of  dignity.

Regular readers of this column would recall that last year, when Yar’Adua went to Germany for treatment, I had published an OPEN LETTER TO TURAI YAR’ADUA pleading with the former (see how quickly situation changes, she is now officially former) wife of the President to take her husband back to Katsina and from there get him to resign his appointment and attend to his health problems. The advice was ignored.

Early this year, that article was re-published while Yar’Adua was in Saudi and Nigerians were being deceived about his condition by a cabal including his wife. But, this time, I went further that the President would probably return to Nigeria in a box and would not be fit to return to office. Well, he came back literally in a “box” and did nothing until his death.

In between the letters to Turai Yar’Adua, I had also predicted that two names would not be on the ballot papers next year –Yar’Adua and ……. Permit me to leave the second one for now. With Yar’Adua now six feet under, he will surely not be on the ballot papers.

That leaves the second person who has also become a hostage to sycophants and marabouts as well as “prayer warriors”. They will not help him. Any attempt by him to get on the ballot papers next year by force, fraud or forgery will end in disaster for himself and for Nigeria. Mark my words.

However, all that is a mere preamble to the main message of this article. Yar’Adua would have lived longer if he was not forced to hang unto the presidency long after the Almighty had separated him from power. His death was a slap in the face to Mrs Turai Yar’Adua and those who thought they could control the destiny of Nigeria at will. His death brings to two the number of Nigerian Heads of State who died in Aso Rock.

Abacha died unexpectedly, just as he was getting his political machine ready to become a civilian president through a fraudulent election. Yar’Adua’s death was protracted, and, to me, expected. It was really a matter of time before he passed on.

Now that he has departed the world and the Aso Rock to which he was urged to cling without dignity, what becomes of Turai? The answer is quite simple. Since the death was announced, several hundred people have sent me text messages or called on the phone. Not even one has expressed sympathy for Turai. Instead, the response has been the same –

“She deserves no pity for attempting to keep her husband in an office which has ruined the health of strong men yet she knew he had been ill for years”. That will be the cross Turai will carry for the rest of her life.

“For every folly of their [rulers] the people feel the lash”.

I am not looking for work for economists; I just want to help us reduce the waste associated with elections in this poor country.

IBB poured N40 billion down the drain in the 1993 annulled elections. That is equivalent to about N1.6 trillion today. He shows no remorse despite the fact that 70% of Nigerians were living below poverty at the time; and even now.

Altogether, close to N1.2 trillion was spent by all candidates from the Presidential to the State House of Assembly elections in 2007. Of that amount, approximately N350 billion went into media (including poster) campaigns nationwide.

Yet there is increasing evidence to demonstrate that virtually all the candidates were wasting money by spending in ways that were not cost effective. Waste has become the general hallmark of election campaigns. Yet on no other project do we as a nation spend as much money as we do on elections. Election spending dwarfs all other items of expenditure by comparison. Surprisingly, no major study has been conducted on it till now.

From now until 2011, if there is an election, at least N1.5 trillion would have been spent by the time the dust settles. So if you are a candidate, or your friend is, or you are a financier of a candidate, think before you spend. Thinking will save you millions.

Even a Bill Gates would not want to incur unavoidable losses. Indeed, Gates would never have been half as rich as he is if he had been spending his money the way Nigerian politicians spend on elections. One candidate had 50% of his election posters delivered two days to the election ensuring they were virtually worthless; another placed adverts in the wrong papers and spent double what he should spend; a third did not know that his campaign manager pocketed 35% of his PR money meant for other people, etc.

And most certainly, the effort to recover their losses contributes to the level of corruption we experience in government. Perhaps if we can help them to spend less on elections, or be more cost conscious, they will steal less in office…

“Liars ought to have good memories”.
Algernon Sidney, 1622-1683.

IBB in his desperation for the presidency has turned on Nigerian youth claiming they cannot lead. It is typical of the man and his spokespersons. He has conveniently forgotten the ages of the former military rulers when they took office.

Let me remind him. Gowon(32); Obasanjo in 1976 (42); Buhari (41) and IBB himself (44). Who of them was not a young man? None had more than School Certificate except Obasanjo who held a diploma. Compare those with Utomi, Akunyili, Donald Duke, Governor Saraki, Gov. Goje, Gov. Yuguda, Dr Babangida Aliyu, Fashola – all young and better educated…..


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