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Abuse of power part I

By Donu Kogbara

President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega selected his wife, Rosario Murillo, to be his running mate when he was seeking a fourth term in office.

They won their election in November (amidst bitter complaints about vote-rigging from the opposition) and were sworn in together earlier on this month. Which means that President Ortega’s First Lady is now also his Vice-President!

Nicaragua’s Constitution bars candidates who are related to incumbent heads of state from running. But Nicaraguan Supreme Court judges declared the Ortega/Murillo ticket legal. I guess they were encouraged to take the view that nepotism is not an issue if running mates are linked by marriage rather than blood.

Meanwhile, what is Ortega’s excuse for indulging in such ridiculous uxoriousness? He insists that Murillo is the best person for the VP job because she is his companion and an efficient disciplinarian who has made a lot of sacrifices for Nicaragua.

Analysts who have been closely observing the political scene in that part of the world say that she has been the country’s de facto co-President for years.

Now, thanks to her doting husband and those who have bent over backwards to please him, Murillo has acquired an official mandate to actively participate in governance at a high level. And I’m appalled by this couple’s shamelessness.

Nigerians would never put up with such nonsense!

Some of our First Ladies – Mesdames Turai Yar’Adua and Patience Jonathan, for example, have been forces to be reckoned with and have been allowed to get away with throwing their weight around and inappropriately exploiting their positions.

But I think it is safe to say that we would never allow a presidential spouse to be officially installed as her husband’s deputy, even if we believed that the lady in question was a highly intelligent and principled individual who could do a great job.

Murillo may very well deserve the praise her husband has heaped on her and it’s entirely possible that she has what it takes to perform excellently and be an effective VP. But government business should NEVER be a family business.

Abuse of power part II

President Jammeh recently lost the recent election in Gambia to Adama Barrow but has flatly refused to hand over, despite having enjoyed power for over two decades.

Adama Barrow and Yahya Jammeh

His selfish, shameless stubbornness is generating so much tension. Gambians are waiting with bated breath to see how this standoff will end. Some are so afraid of possible trouble that they have fled to neighbouring countries like refugees.

Meanwhile, the leaders of other ECOWAS member states, including President Buhari, are tired of trying to persuade Jammeh to quit his outrageous recalcitrance. And they are now threatening him with military intervention.

One can only pray that this situation does not degenerate into chaos or bloodshed.

By the way, I don’t want to diss our President for applying pressure on Jammeh because applying pressure on Jammeh is, morally, the right thing to do.

But we have SO MANY headaches to contend with in this country: The Niger Delta, Boko Haram, Biafra activists, Fulani herdsmen, Christian/Muslim battles in Kaduna (yesterday, I saw a horrific video that allegedly depicted Nigerian Muslims cutting the throats of Nigerian Christians, then throwing their bodies into a mass grave).

I DO care about our besieged brethren in Gambia. But toxic domestic wahala is so widespread on our home turf that I am tempted to say that we cannot afford to invest time, money and money in playing a laudable policing role in other countries.

When your country is awash with ethnic/religious tensions and your oil pipelines are being blown up and your citizens are being kidnapped, raped and murdered every single day – and your law enforcement agencies are struggling to cope with this multi-faceted crime wave and your nation has an image problem internationally – you should perhaps concentrate exclusively on solving your own problems.

US President-elect Donald Trump (R) and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a leadership luncheon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on January 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

Trump and me

From the day Donald Trump announced his candidacy, I was deeply opposed to the idea of a man like him becoming President of the most important country on earth.

I already knew a lot about Trump before he became a presidential candidate because he had been a famous entrepreneur and TV personality for decades.

And I didn’t like the way he had run his businesses and didn’t like the way he talked or the fact that he had been married three times or the fact that his current wife had once been a nude model or the fact that he had displayed a bias against African American tenants when he was renting out his residential properties in New York.

Then, during the campaign, he made lewd utterances about women and insulted Mexicans and my profession (his hatred of journalists is legendary!) and his predecessor Obama’s impressive healthcare reforms. And…

…the list of things he has done to annoy me is too long to fit onto this page.

But he won the election and will be sworn in today. And I can only hope that his tenure    won’t be as disastrous as I expect it to be.


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