Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Now, Will President Yar’Adua Be Kind?


(First Published July 12, 2008)

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

About forty days after Mr. Umar Musa Yar’Adua was sworn in as Nigeria’s president and the nation was saturated with loud calls on ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to leave alone the new man he single-handedly imposed on Nigerians to implement his own ideas and programmes to “move the nation forward”, I published a piece in my newspaper column and on several internet news sites entitled, “In Nigeria, Yar’Adua Reigns, Obasanjo Rules,” asking those trying to shout our heads off whether they were sure “Yar’Adua himself [was] even desirous and eager to be rid of the overbearing influence of Obasanjo?”

I said: “Is he really ready to take charge? Are we sure that the ‘Servant-leader’ is not even too grateful that Obasanjo’s meddlesome and looming shadow are providing perfect alibi for what is gradually appearing as his stark visionlessness? I would certainly want to know those great ideas of Yar’Adua’s which Obasanjo’s meddlesomeness is preventing him from unfolding! The truth, as we know it, is that Yar’Adua never wanted to be president, and so, he never sat down to draw up anything that vaguely looks like a blueprint for the country’s redemption. When he was conscripted by Obasanjo and imposed on both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Nigerians at a time elections were merely a couple of weeks away, he was too preoccupied with the thought of winning elections to have any time to concentrate and think about how he would rule Nigeria … it soothes Yar’Adua, [therefore], to still have Obasanjo in charge, while he enjoys the perks of office without the responsibilities that go with them. And at the end of the day, when another four years of devastating failure must have been successfully enacted, Yar’Adua can conveniently come up with the theory that he was not allowed to implement his ‘superior ideas’.”

The essay, judging by the reactions it generated, won me many friends who thought that my judgment of the ‘Servant leader’, though too early in the day, could hardly be faulted.
But there were a few who maintained that it was unfair to state like I did that the president (who was barely a month in office) presented the perfect picture of “a pitiably confused leader groping his way through an impenetrably dark alleyway.”  

Umaru Musa Yar'adua U.S. President George W. Bush (R) meets with President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Umaru Musa Yar'Adua December 13, 2007 in Washington, DC. This is the first meeting between the two presidents after the U.S. criticized election of Yar'Adua.
President Umar Musa Yar'Adua and Pres George Bush of USA: What Lesson Did
He come Away With From Meetings Like These?


Well, I have since been vindicated because the crippling directionlessness and benumbing passivity which President Umar Musa Yar’Adua presides over in Abuja today have clearly validated the ‘heresy’ I dared to utter about forty days into his regime, so much so that it has since become a permanent feature in virtually every public commentary or formal and informal discussions on the present regime. Unlike the time I first expressed it, the view has now become all too common and very obvious to elicit any more surprises. In fact, I doubt if it still has the capacity to make the president feel embarrassed.

Okay, I have been proved right, but where has that left us? Nigeria is presently weighed down by so many big problems, but here we are, stuck with a president who can neither be hurried nor bothered that the nation he is supposed to be ruling is dying every day.

Yes, we have a ruler who cannot be made to allow even the slightest hint of urgency in his moves and seems not to have the barest idea of what it means to be perturbed that he had flopped on virtually every promise he had made to the nation. In fact, it does not appear he can even be brought to lose any sleep that he has failed even before he started, and that most Nigerians have since lost every confidence in him. Many are no longer able to feel there is a government in Abuja! What is plastered everywhere are utter hopelessness and despair.
Hapless Victims Of Leadership Failure (Pix: Caboose)


Here is a president who evidently came into office without any ideas, focus, any coherent action plans or even an average understanding of what he was coming to office to accomplish. And so, each time his attention is called to the mounting problems begging for his urgent intervention, he appears startled and looks as if he feels he is being unduly bothered. It looks very much like what he would prefer is to merely sleep through the problems with the blissful hope that he would wake one day see all of them solved.

Maybe we should not even blame Yar’Adua, because, come to think about it: what exactly did he promise Nigerians   during his so called campaigns in which he was an imposed, “unwilling” candidate?

Okay, I remember that he kept saying something about “Energy Challenge” which he intended to tackle headlong. But since he came into power, the energy situation has worsened beyond what anyone had imagined was possible in a richly endowed and high-earning country ruled by a human being. The Obasanjo junta had allegedly squandered about $16 billion to plunge Nigeria deeper into thicker darkness, and the toxic revelation had caused Nigerians untold mental torture. But to demonstrate his utter disdain for the feelings of Nigerians on this heartless pillaging of the nation’s resources, and his unambiguous opinion on the astounding revelations at the power probe panel, President Yar’Adua recently appointed three governors (Liyel Imoke, Segun Agagu and Danjuma Goje) who had served as Ministers of Power in that darkest period of Nigeria’s history to serve in the so-called Presidential Implementation Committee on Power.

NIGERIA: Yearning For Purposeful Leadership

What this should mean is that in the thinking of the   president, these men deserved to be applauded by all of us for colluding with Obasanjo to ensure the nation remained in impenetrable darkness. What Yar’Adua has dropped is a bold hint on what he would do with the power probe report once it gets to his table.  What an unlucky nation!

If till now there is hardly any evidence that Yar’Adua has been able to achieve an appreciable grasp of the enormous task facing him as Nigeria’s president, then it would be most foolish to hope that he would still not be groping for direction even after two years from now. In fairness to the man, it could well be said that since he had raised no hopes from the beginning till now, no one can justifiably accuse him of dashing any.

But how long can a continuously decaying nation defer its reclamation by endlessly waiting for a president who is yet to start charting a very clear direction?

If Yar’Adua would be kind, that is, to himself and Nigeria, he should put a halt to all these blind pursuits and dumb guesswork, hand in his papers, retire to Katsina in peace, and save the nation further trauma of having to perennially wait for a man who may never be able to either comprehend or respond to the challenges of such a high and strategic office.

Although hangers-on and parasites feeding fat on the grounded system may hold a different view, certainly, the line of action I am recommending to Yar’Adua would attract a kinder verdict from history to him than going on confusedly like a child handed a terribly complicated, strange toy to decode, and traumatizing the whole nation in the process.

Indeed, quitting now would be more redemptive of Yar’Adua’s person than being remembered later as the groping undertaker of a richly endowed but seriously ill nation?    

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