Nigeria’s governance from everywhere, anywhere or nowhere

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If a serving public official deserves an award for presumptuous audacity, it would have to be Nigeria’s Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa (SAN). Where others tread with caution, our chief law officer plunges with gusto, making the grand entree that earns consternation of the public. Aondoakaa fits the part where controversy is the name of the game: from verbal jousting with his colleagues inthe bar to sundry controversies in other realms of our public space. Michael Aondoakaa’has regaled us with a rich repertoire of controversies since the advent of the Yar’adua government in 2007.

 

Last week, Aondoakaa surpassed even himself, inresponse to the nation-wide disquiet about the prolonged absence of President Yar’adua from the country. “There’ is nothing ‘sacrosanct about the president being around all the time to carry out some functions’: said our distinguished chief law officer. He added that the president can effectively perform his official functions without actually being around to discharge the duties of his office. In other words, our Attorney General is issuing afatwa that Nigeria can be run from wherever – Yar’adua so chooses to. Literally, we are being told that it is not our business to bother where the president chooses to operate from: his hospital bed.in Ieddah, or outer space from inside a black hole! In those matters, the citizens must just make do with whatever is given to them.

 

Predictably, Aondoakaa’s suggestion has not gone down well with a cross section of the community with disapproving responses coming from different quarters: the opposition parties; lawyer and Journalist Tony Momoh; radical lawyer Femi Falana, and a host of other Nigerians who are appalled at how operatives ofthe regime in power have demonstrated incomprehensible incompetence in the ltandling of the fallout from the original disclosure of the nature of the president’s ailment, all those moons ago! Nigerians have been turned into a bunch of ever-gullible kindergarten children, with the shoddy manner of noninformation we have had to live with, under a regime that ostensibly enjoys the mandate of the people. As most commentators have underlined, we fared better under military rule, when General Babangida was hospitalized; atleast, we were kept informed of his state.

 

The doctrine of ruling the nation from everywhere, anywhere or nowhere, is in fact, central to understanding the political psychology of the past ten years in our country. You would recall that Obasanjo spent a significant part of his tenure clocking nautical miles around the world while the kleptocratic regime he headed was consolidated to fleece Nigeria. Borrowing a leaf from the disgraced despot, governors in the Nigerian states also instituted their own forms of rule from anywhere, in order to find safe havens to hide monies looted from their states. Week in, week out, our governors jet out in search of the illusory “foreign investor” when it was clear that they, in fact, were the foreign investors in Dubai, Singapore, South Africa, the Caribbean offshore destinations of stolen money, etc! Nigeria’s ten years of civil rule has therefore been an elaborate expression.of rule from anywhere!

 

.’ But the grandmaster of rule-and-ruin from wherever is Samimi Turaki, who in eight years took Jigawa from pre-modernity back to the Stone Age and at the end of his eight year tenure, ensured that less than 25% of Jigawa’s children were enrolled in schools, while the same chap ensured that billions of naira money meant for develop of the Third Term Agenda: money he said he handed over to Nnamdi ‘Andy’ Uba. Since Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa has assured us that Nigeria can be run from anywhere, it has become urgent for the PDP to appoint Saminu Turaki as its in-house expert in governance from wherever, to do however and achieve whatever! Pursuit to this, they should appeal to the Saudi authorities to allow them open an Aso Villa annex; Wadata Plaza and NASS branches in Ieddah, They should inform the Saudis that these are essential ingredients of the Seven Point Agenda and close proximity to the presidential sick bed will hasten their achievement. In a Nigerian manner of doing things, we can then get these annex offices to be out-sourced as Public -Private- Partnerships (PPP), with leading Nigerian government-approved billionaires partnering with government, after a wellattended and generous fundraising ceremony, to get the work done on time. I suggest that Kwara State donates a dollop of Zimbabwean farmers’ expertise to this urgent national assignment, given the close links our beloved governor Bukola Saraki has with the Yar’adua government. Maybe this looks like a vulgarization of the issues but it underlines precisely the joke that governance has become in our country. The leading players in the regime do not have the foggiest idea of how to conduct themselves in relation to the citizens; and their incompetence is intertwined with an arrogance that emanates from the fortune they have amassed running a government that continues to be dogged by a lack of legitimacy and unfortunately, their arrogance has not allowed them to learn, even with the grave crisis on their hands. THISDAY of Tuesday, December 22,2009, quoted Sayyadi Abba Ruma, the Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, often touted as a key member of the regime, as saying that “those speculating that the nation is at a standstill because of the long absence of President Yar’adua are doing so for selfish reasons”. Amazing!

 

Ruma must either be deluded, in which case the situation is far worse than Nigerians even kaew or he lives on planet Mars! The long queues in petrol stations; the restiveness of the oil majors; the crisis dimension to,kidnapping and other non-state acts of criminality to match official acts of banditry, tell the tale of the state ofNigeria. It isnot speculative at all, and when that is compounded by an absent and very sick president as well as the Byzantine scheming and conspiracies of power, hidden and open, then Abba Ruma must really think Nigerians are fools.

 

But it is not surprising too that it is individuals of such influence that have condemned the regime in power to a provincialism that is a throwback to the days of Native Authority rule of the 1950s in Northern Nigeria. The exception is that the Native Authorities could claim a legitimacy which the modern clone does not. And honestly, statements by influential individuals like Abba Ruma, as we have seen herein, do not help the image the government. On a fmal note, let me quote the words of Professor Richard Joseph, who taught Political Science 30 years ago in Nigeria, and had studied the entrenchment ofprebendalism in Nigerian politics. “Nigeria’: he said, “is experiencing a crisis of performance in virtually every area of public policy. Meanwhile, the prolonged illness and absence of the nation’s helmsman, President Umaru Yar’adua, have heightened the dismay and anxiety. Largely unspoken are gnawing fears’: But it is our duty to speak because our country cannot afford to be ruled from the nowhere, anywhere or wherever a black hole as we have at the moment.

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