Tuesday 9 September 2008

Nigeria: Palm, Panic, Pandemonium - Yar'Adua's Lesser Hajj

From predilection to prejudice

We tend to palm off the essential, have premonitions about the immediate, procrastinate on the important and leave everything else to prayer with clasped palms in the direst situations.

To prepare for eventualities is to prognosticate and usurp the supposed will of God about any situation such that failure then gets passed off as the work of the enemy.

For too long we have allowed our leadership to palm off too much, we got saddled with a very sick president and a vice-president he did not choose so as to assure a kind of continuity and stability that is fast becoming a mirage.

A man unknown or a public president

Now, I have no business and neither am I interested in the health of a Mr. or Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’Adua [1], for all I care, he could have two hearts, four lungs – even though we are forlorn with apprehension and he be as fit as a fiddle – I wish him well.

But when the same man assumes the responsibility of the Presidency of Nigeria, it becomes a completely different matter, something his aides have been trying to palm off without due realisation of the duty to truthfully inform.

Regardless of how this man was chosen, he is now de facto President of Nigeria; one would expect that he holds the reins of power and administration as any executive president would and where he finds that he is indisposed, the necessary steps should be taken to temporarily vest the vice-president with executive responsibility until when the president is better disposed to carry out his duties.

For two weeks we were left in a quandary about who was in control of Nigeria as rumour fed speculation so rife about the well-being of the President who presumably had gone to Saudi Arabia for the lesser hajj having cancelled other pre-arranged foreign trips to other nations.

A Soviet past replayed

By the time we knew what was going on, the man had allegedly had the knife in him to deal with a renal condition that required a new kidney.

Meanwhile, his public relations people palmed all this off as a non-critical medical checkup and asked us to run to our panic stations in prayer for the health of our President.

Since the vice-president had still been left in the dark initially about the condition of the President and had not received due authority to act in the place of a recuperating President who was far away in Saudi Arabia presumably making peace with his God – things that should have been done on Nigerian matters were left on a desk which had an empty chair whilst Nigerians were left somewhere between panic and possible pandemonium.

The secrecy that surrounds the real condition of the President, health-wise rivals the Soviet-era when the likes of Brezhnev [2], Chernenko [3] and Andropov [4] were long dead if not buried before we found out that they had been through a long and possibly incapacitating illness.

Power in the hands of hoodlums

It goes without saying that an incapacitated leader who has not properly handed over his responsibilities in a constitutionally sanctioned process of delegation allows for unelected and unaccountable mandarins in his circle to pull the levels of government in ways they should never have been entitled to do in the name of the President; leaving the nation in danger of reckless malevolence for personal ends.

In that alone, the President does us a great disservice on the verge of being unforgivable, but we would relent on the condition of some disclosure, if not full disclosure. What would not do is this wielding of the axe to give the impression that one is in control - it is closer to pandemonium than patient contemplation.

The need to know

Not knowing whether like John F. Kennedy [5] was addicted to barbiturates and pain-killers, the President lives a drug-fulfilled life to get from day-to-day where such medication may impair judgement is worrisome enough.

It does not help if like Franklin D. Roosevelt [6] was in a wheel chair, the President rides an invisible one that has him wheeled off to Germany in the instant of a relapse from whatever ails him.

Yar’Adua is no Kennedy nor Roosevelt and this is neither the 1940s nor the 1960s, it is however instructive that the Freedom of Information Bill still languishes in the Nigerian Congress in times where transparency should be the underpinning foundation of any democracy that seeks to be respectable.

Facts are needed now

Thankfully, we hear that the President is back in the country, either spiritually refreshed or medically patched up but it is disingenuous for his sycophants and obsequious troop of praise-singers to contend that it has been much ado about nothing and we should have just remained on our knees in sackcloth and ashes praying amiss in ignorance about the facts.

The BBC Headline - Nigerian Leader Appears in Public [7] - reads like one would expect of Fidel Castro [8] in Cuba or Kim Jong Il [9] in North Korea who many already presume dead, but exists as a double till the power struggle in the cabal of rulers gets resolved.

Unfortunately, we still do not know fact from fiction, truth from conjecture or reality from rumour, all we know is our innocent and concerned inquiries are palmed off into darkness, we are aroused in panic for the call of national prayer and around us pandemonium breaks loose for the lack of leadership in the matters that really do matter about Nigeria – this is not good at all.


[1] Umaru Yar'Adua - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[2] The Brezhnev Syndrome - TIME
[3] World Attention Turns To Chernenko's Health - New York Times
[4] Andropov Misses Moscow Parade, Stirring Rumors - New York Times
[5] In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illness, Pain and Pills - New York Times
[6] Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: Struggle with Disability
[7] BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigerian leader appears in public
[8] BBC NEWS | Americas | Castro seen in rare TV interview
[9] North Korea: Nation To Mark 60th Anniversary Amid Claims Kim Jong Il Dead Since 2003 | World News | Sky News

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