Yar’Adua’s Health And The Rotten Entrails Of Politics

May 1, 2008
6 mins read

“How many decisions-including ones of great historical significance that impact millions of people-are made by men and women who are driven by personal motives rather than by a desire to do the right thing? How many of our top government officials are driven by personal greed instead of national loyalty? – John Perkins in “Confessions of an economic hit man”


In the two weeks that Malam Umaru Yar’Adua was indisposed, governance came to a halt in Nigeria. In its stead, just as nature is said to abhor a vacuum, the political society was taken over by rumour and spectacular whispers about elaborate conspiracy theories. I did not envy Olusegun Adeniyi, the presidential spokesman, when the announced that President Yar’Adua was being flown out of the country to Germany, because of an allergic reaction.


A feeling of déjà vu came over any follower of the dirty intrigues which characterize political life. It was so reminiscent of the final years of the Soviet Union and its succession of ailing gerontocratic party apparatchiks: Brezhnev, Chernyenko, Suslov and Andropov! The whole world knew that the Soviet leadership was spent; it was ailing and was totally out of touch. Yet the Soviet people were kept in the dark about  what exactly was the nature of indisposition of their over-indulgent, party bureaucratic leadership. Meanwhile, the CIA and Sovietologies in the imperialist countries of the West played up these problems and use the manipulation of the information to deepen the dissatisfaction which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union!


The Nigerian leadership was living a lie that President Umaru Yar’Adua was merely suffering an “allergic reaction”, which kept him away in a German hospital for about two weeks. Yet, the truth of the presidential indisposition is an open secret in the hands of the intelligence agencies of Germany and other countries. In these days of the internet, there are various sites that posted stories about the president’s health.


SAHARA REPORTERS DOT COM quoted sources at home and abroad who gave worrisome details about the seriousness of the situation that our country faces with the health of the president. Yet so poor in the act of politicking are the people around the ailing man that they did not even attempt to win empathy with the Nigerian people by being honest with us. As a friend said, it is not a crime for the president to be indisposed, and by telling us the truth, they will get the whole nation praying for the man!


It is an extension of the politics of the PDP cabal that the Nigerian people cannot be trusted with truthful accounts of the state of the health of our president. It is in the same way that they cannot afford the mistake of ever allowing the votes of the Nigerian people to count; they cannot ever allow free and fair elections which might let the Nigerian people to make their own choice and then risk being voted out of power! This is the reason why the PDP has to continue to massively rig elections; and when you have the security forces at your disposal and Maurice Iwu’s INEC, you are on a permanent roll of victory, which often defies reality and logic! It is as simple as that, and it is the same attitude which informs the lies they tell Nigerians about the nature of President Yar’Adua’s ill-health or its seriousness.


Yet these are very uneasy times in Nigeria, which explains the “spectacular whispers about elaborate conspiracy theories” that I spoke about earlier. Let us go back to the beginning. Those who knew about President Yar’Adua’s state of health as governor of Katsina State whispered their worries about his choice as Obasanjo’s preferred candidate as PDP’s presidential candidate. There were the more cynical perspective that Obasanjo chose an ailing man, because he wanted to plant a booby trap in the nation’s political space. By choosing a candidate who might be incapacitated, he sowed the seeds of very serious political conflicts into the future.


Of course, those who expected to cream off the juicy opportunities of a Yar’Adua presidency could not be bothered about consequences which lied in the future. Whenever issues were raised about these fears, they are wont to retreat into metaphysics about life being in the hands of Allah. Fair enough, except that the early warning signal came when candidate Yar’Adua collapsed in the midst of the electioneering with the consequence that we might have an incapacitated candidate on the hands of the biggest political party in the county.


It threatened to throw a spanner in the works and we were treated to the histrionics of the disgraced kleptocratic despot, Olusegun Obasanjo, making a telephone call on live television to a bed-ridden Umaru Yar’Adua. It that potential crisis lifted, the fears remained that there was potential problem into the future. It was as if a disgraced Obasanjo, who had suffered the ignominy of his Third Term Agenda, decided to beat his retreat in a way that Nigeria will rue over the years. Believe me, I think that is what is staring us all in the face now!


When the latest case of presidential indisposition came out in the open, a panic political button was pressed all over Nigeria. It seems clear now that members of the Northern political elite are very worried about the long-term consequences of the potential indisposition of President Umaru Yar’Adua and the space of power rotation in the context of Nigeria’s cloak-and-dagger politics. The North suffered greatly.


Under the eight-year rule of the kleptocrat, Olusegun Obasanjo, and now that power has shifted to the region, we are faced with the stat of health of the president. The consequences are very clear to everybody: if the president becomes permanently indisposed, then the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, will have to become the president of Nigeria, as the constitution stipulates.


For the Northern political elite, it means that by acquiescing in Obasanjo’s mischief over a year ago and accepting the choice of an ailing candidate, Malam Umaru Yar’Adua they are now faced with the possibility of the burst of the bubble of their spinelessness, greed, and cowardice. It is likely that if the worst case scenario comes to pass then the North faces the reality of not being in power for up to fifteen years into the future! In fact, one of the whispers that I have spoken about says that Jonathan Goodluck’s own crowd are silently…. Their bets, waiting patiently for the cherry to drop on their lap.


It is secretly whispered that their man will conclude whatever remains of Yar’Adua’s tenure and enjoy two forum-year terms! Without any intention to be rude, we potentially face the possibilities of the most colourless and featherweight president in Nigerian history under Goodluck Jonathan: a man who does not have a significant political antecedent and who could not even effectively rule Bayelsa State! If this sounds harsh, it is because political science can be a dispassionately rational science!


It is this scenario which has cranked the political machinery into new, conspiratorial life around Nigeria, because it is clear that an ailing president cannot provide the leadership which can generate the confidence to push development. From all that we know of history, whenever there are doubts about the state of health of a leader, the country becomes caught up in conspiracies; political factions emerge, each trying to outwit each other and all posturing for advantage; court intrigues take a deadly turn when the ailing leader cannot provide leadership. Even in the best of times, Nigeria is a most difficult country which will tax the health of the healthiest leader. Unfortunately today, Nigeria is under the watch of a president who has to spend a lot of time watching his own health while also going through the motions of providing leadership.


The background was very daunting from the beginning. The man had emerged as an afterthought for a despot who had hoped to perpetuate himself in power with a constitutional emendation which failed. So sure was Obasanjo that he would remain in power beyond 2007 that he did not prepare a succession. When he lost the third term battle, he panicked. The choice of candidate Yar’Adua was an outcome of that panic; but the despot also used the choice to cynically get to the Nigerian people for rejecting the third-term agenda.


This is how we arrived at our pass today: unsure of the leadership which an ailing president is giving our country; with political factions sharpening their daggers to cut the largest share of the spoils and the nation unsure of where it is being taken to. Our country resembles a lorry full of passengers whose break fails constantly, yet the driver insists that he would drive. We either take a decisive step to halt the danger or indulge our metaphysical propensity to wring our hands!


The present situation calls for the largest dosage of political wisdom on the part of the most far-sighted elements of the political elite. One of the problems they have to diffuse is the ambition of a lot of young men in political society who have stolen a lot of money as governors of state or from the eight years of the kleptocratic regime of Obasanjo. For these young men, they want to add state power at the federal level to the wealth they have illegally amassed in the past nine years. They do not have a concept of politics which works for the Nigerian people; and lost within their over-ambition, they will do a lot of damage to Nigeria’s fragile political balance.


What makes it difficult is that these chaps wield a lot of influence in the Yar’Adua presidency; they are remotely engineering control in the PDP; have the police under their wings; will do everything to buy up the judiciary and are already confident that they have compromised INEC. The ill-health of President Yar’Adua became a veritable vehicle to further their ambition. These conspiratorial cliques cannot take Nigeria except to perdition. This is why political wisdom is urgently in demand in Nigeria today.


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