Umar Yar’Adua: Obasanjo Finally Makes His Move

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Those familiar with the grains of dialectical thought know the formula that ‘yes is no and no is yes’. The idea is that unlike metaphysical formulations that reduce phenomena to a simple black or white choice of ‘yes or no’, the dialectical thinkers argue that given th6 motion and development of nature, society and thought, yes can become no and no can make a transition to yes; it is a question of how long you wait, or the development of phenomena. This piece is not intended to be a boring lecture about philosophical thought, especially the dialectics, with its distinguished historical pedigree from such scholars as Heraclitus in ancient Greece, who once argued that you cannot step into the same river twice, through to G. F. Hegel, who had a profound influence on Karl Marx, even when Marx felt that Hegel’s subjective idealism needed to be inverted as in a camera Hegel’s subjective idealism needed to be inverted as in a camera obscura, and the rational kernel of his thoughts needed to be interpreted from a materialist standpoint. Believe me when I still insist that this is not a philosophical tour-de-force.


I have been forced to reexamine the dialectics in relation to contemporary Nigerian politics. In politics, even the most unlettered godfather practises dialectical thought, although he might not know the phrase for what he practises. The politician tells you he is going left, when he’s actually going right; he denies exactly what he is about; it was Nikita Khrushchev who once said that all politicians are the same, they build bridges where there is no river. So when they deny something, please be on guard. Obasanjo spent a major part of the last one year denying his third term agenda at the same time as his agents were ferrying  ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags around the residences of legislators to bribe them to pass the unpatriotic constitutional amendments. Soon as the bottom dropped on the agenda, he looked at Nigeria in the face and said that he never wanted a third term.


Just a few weeks ago, the Governor of Katsina State, Alhaj I Umar Yar’Adua jumped into the fray as a potential presidential candidate of the PDP in next year’s election. The first round of noise about him were the near synchronized denials by Governor Yar’Adua and presidency spokespersons, that Yar’ Adua was the ‘anointed’ choice of President Obasanjo, that he was his own man, etc. But the more they denied, the more difficult it became to hide their faces behind a finger. There are too many coincidences that naturally arouse suspicions about the agenda within which Umar Yar’Adua has emerged as the frontline candidate going to the PDP convention this weekend.


At the heart of the manoeuvring taking place in the smoke filled recesses of politics are two interlinked issues; on the one hand is the desperate desire to protect President Obasanjo from investigation, de-mystification and possible jailing after May 2007 for all the well-known crimes that he has committed against the Nigerian people; on the other hand is the effort of the bandit billionaire cronies who funded the rigging o f the 2003 elections, bankrolled the ill-fated third term agenda, and who have profited enormously from the privatization programme, import waivers and other policies of the Obasanjo regime. The regime has been a monumental fraud, a pyramid scheme of sorts, elaborately undertaken with the central purpose of short-changing the Nigerian people. It is a regime whose activities, especially in the realm of the economy, make armed robbery almost appear like an honourable engagement.


They systematically connived to rob the Nigerian people of choice assets; it was under the Obasanjo regime that highly placed individuals colluded with a foreign company called PENTASCOPE to DELIBERATELY run down our public telecommunication company, NITEL, in order to eventually sell it to Obasanjo and his cronies in TRANSCORP. Those who made fabulous wealth under all these scams have realised that no matter how long a night might be, it would have to give way to the light of day.


Obasanjo’s billionaires did everything under the sun to prolong the nightmare of his presidency, using spurious arguments about the beauty of continuity and stability, or the need to protect the so-called reform programme o f the regime. It was obvious that they really wanted to protect all that they took away from the Nigerian people within the ambits of the unconstitutional privatization policy which Obasanjo drove with the zeal of a crusade. The failure of third term necessitated a new set of options. For Obasanjo, there was the little matter of what would be the future of Andy Uba, his erstwhile Special Assistant, and custodian o f presidential ways and manners. He knew too much, and any trail to him leads directly to the president.


That was why Obasanjo at a point was said to have even contemplated that Andy must become vice president in the next dispensation. In the end, Andy Uba was given the route map to governorship of Anambra State, since in the end, the same purpose will be served: Andy Uba will become governor, will get immunity possibly for eight years, a period long enough for Nigerians to forget Obasanjo’s crimes, especially if a pliant president is rigged into power, and who knows, the man might even expire within the period, in which case he gets a state burial, which was his preferred choice at the height of the third term debate when he vowed to die in Aso Villa.


The headache of who can take over without causing problem for Obasanjo was finally cured with the impending ‘coronation’ of Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua. Obasanjo can assuage his perpetually troubled soul that he has honoured the memory o f the late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua by installing his brother as president in return for the quid pro quo of ‘not hearing evil, not seeing evil and not talking evil’ about Obasanjo’s presidency. The emotional reward of this choice is enormous, and the potential benefits for Obasanjo and his billionaire cronies are enormous, while the choice is politically adroit.


A very colourless personality, Governor Umar Yar’Adua has nevertheless shown very sure political footsteps over the past seven years. He is the only one reputed to have publicly declared his assets, never mind controversies that emerged in recent months about some choice properties in locations around the world according to a recent edition of INSIDER magazine. He has imposed his personality on the politics of Katsina State and as recent events corroborate, he is not averse to ruthless means to get his way: it was trader his watch that people protesting against third term were killed in Katsina; he seized the PDP machinery of his state and imposed his son-in-law to be as the next governorship candidate against the protestations of much better prepared candidates like House Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Masari; Yar’Adua facilitated the massive rigging which denied the ANPP Katsina State in 2003 and ensured the scuttling of General Buhari’s presidency; and it is reputed (although I cannot confirm this) that he facilitates spiritual ‘fortification’ for Obasanjo by liaising with Malamai from neighbouring.Niger Republic to organize prayer sessions for the despot.


There is the fact that his choice represents another defeat for Northern Nigeria, since it is NOT a choice of the people but one that will be imposed by Obasanjo; it automatically deals a mortal blow to whatever is left o f the PDM tendency in Nigerian politics and it finally tears the links between Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Yar’Adua myth, because Obasanjo will now have the bragging right of saying that he is the actual defender o f that brand in politics by placing General Shehu Yar’Adua’s brother in power. It is in fact almost as if we are being presented with a president-in-waiting, because the PDP will massively rig the elections anyway, electronic voting machine, warts and all; what with the INEC that ve have on our hands, which has taken every step wrongly, is headed by a Professor Maurice Iwu that was part of the massively rigged 2003 elections,’ an INEC that has openly been in cahoots with the PDP in every material particular.


It is quite significant that members of the Obasanjo clique have lately become extremely confident about their choice; they have started telling us how far ahead candidate Yar’Adua is on the integrity quotient, and that is the thrust o f the media campaign that he has so far run, emphasizing the $40 billion foreign reserve and the N6 billion he is said to have kept in the Katsina State treasury (for his son-in-law to be governor to expend), as if that is all that it takes to govern a country!


That Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua has wittingly or unwittingly become a pawn in an elaborate game o f chess, the gambit of a sophisticated grandmaster or grandmasters, has now become the dominant issue of the current transition process. The story is that the two wings o f the Obasanjo ensemble: the political elements in government and the quislings pretending to be the party apparatchik, as well as the bandit billionaires, have now settled for Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua as the preferred way to protect Obasanjo after 2007, and simultaneously protect their own loot when their benefactor vacates office. It is alleged that the billionaires have put an aircraft at the disposal of their candidate, and a billionaire member of the Obasanjo inner circle is said to have donated a property to serve as the campaign headquarter.


The determination to ensure complete success of this endeavour has led them not to leave anything to chances, and several related flanking moves have been thrown in for good measure. They are worried that Governor Peter Odili might upturn the applecart by deploying enough resources to influence the way the delegates vote, so the EFCC was sent into Rivers State to let loose a cat amongst Odili’s pigeons, and for the first time in the past seven years, one of the blue blooded members of the Obasanjo entourage is being exposed and ridiculed for not learning the lesson that nobody is too important to be sacrificed to protect the mythology o f the ‘leader, founder and father’. Typically, Obasanjo has chosen the presence of OPEC visitors to disgrace Odili. And in matters of money, another governor of a South-South state has been drafted in to ensure that the campaign is not found wanting at that level; the smart governor has bought himself immunity from the ‘Odili treatment’. Someone once described the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, who died this week, a ‘son of a bitch’, and a former American Secretary of State was said to have replied in defence, ‘ well, he is OUR son of a bitch!’, if you catch my drift, in respect of this issue of money and Obasanjo’s ‘anti-corruption drive’.


This is the elaborate context within which Obasanjo’s move has been made on the political chessboard of Nigeria. So confident have they become that they will score a checkmate because all their opponents have been routed; Babangida’s letter to Obasanjo and the politically damaging response he received, published in THISDAY newspaper of Tuesday, 12th  December 2006, is final proof of the triumphalism reigning amongst the Obasanjo entourage, that they have not only dominated yesterday, are in control today and might even have conquered Nigeria’s tomorrow. Whatever merits that Alhaji Umar Yar ’Adua might have personally, by becoming the anointed choice of President Obasanjo, he has become hostage to, or a willing accomplice (or both) in an elaborate scam to ensure that Obasanjo escapes justice at the expiration of his tenure in May 2007. Obasanjo must continue to live in a world of delusion that he is an authentic Nigerian hero; on the other hand, his haunted conscience and deep-seated cowardice, pull  the plug on bis delusions of grandeur, and  keep him on the firm ground of reality that he must manipulate a puppet into power who would- find the spine to take blows on his; behalf, which must surely come after May  2007, so that he is not investigated, arrested and returned to his old cell in Yola prison. It is also expected that the puppet eased into power by Obasanjo will also protect the illegal pickings made by the billionaire cronies who profited from the privatization projects of the past seven years. This, unfortunately, is the role that Obasanjo and his cronies have set Umar Yar ’Adua up to play in the current phase of Nigeria’s history.


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