Is Yar’adua Dead?

If indeed President Umaru MusaYar’Adua is alive, I wish him long life and good health, but under these circumstances, it is doubtful that he is. But if he is; Yar’Adua of Nigeria is deserving of the Nobel Prize for his disappearing act forty-five days and counting, an act that has since eclipsed that of the Great Houdini, the consummate magician of the 1930s.


If Yar’adua is Alive by Phil Tam-Al Alalibo

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of Nigeria, if still alive, (and I hope he is) is deserving of the Nobel Prize for his disappearing act forty-five days and counting, an act that has since eclipsed that of the Great Houdini, the consummate magician of the 1930s. No one has seen or heard from this former two-term Governor of katsina and president of the largest black nation in the world since November 23rd when he boarded the presidential jet at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja and departed the shores of Nigeria to attend to his health. 

That Yar’Adua is ill is hardly relevant in the grand scheme of things, what is relevant is the tangible power vacuum that illness is causing and the political shenanigans that are consuming the political class. It is doubtful therefore that the president is still alive and if he is alive, then it must and should be presumed that the northern mafia, the cabal of extremists that believes Nigeria is their inheritance is holding him hostage in Saudi Arabia for their own selfish reasons.

In these past 45 days, much has happened to occasion the reappearance of the president even if the hospital where he is seeking treatment is in Planet Venus. In recent memory, all presidents, Muslim or Christian, have wished Christians well on December 25, Christmas Day, through congratulatory messages in the interest of brotherhood, but Yar’Adua could not be seen neither was there was message to be read on his behalf. And His Excellency was again a no-show a week later on New Year’s Day, a special year that would mark the golden anniversary of the country he governs.   

In his place, not on his behalf, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan addressed the country making a bogus claim on NTA much to the chagrin of keen observers that the country was “sailing to greatness.” Yes, you heard right, he said ‘greatness’. But we are reminded that it is not possible for Nigeria to sail to greatness without a captain; how would it navigate the Oceanic torrents and who will stir it out of the troubled waters? Jonathan would have been easily forgiven for this utterly ignorant gaffe if not for the solemn fact that he is an intellectual, a professor, a PhD holder whose ability to grasp the severity of our challenges cannot be underestimated. 

The ominous signs of Yar’Adua’s possible death are validated by the suspicious way highly placed government officials have been conducting themselves on the question of Yar’Adua’s absence and whereabouts. And their conduct I confess leaves much to be desired and give raise to wanton suspicion that something untoward has befallen the president while he was seeking treatment in Saudi Arabia. The other day, the grossly inept Attorney-General, Michael Aondaokaa, shrugged off reporters saying that he cannot answer any questions about the president’s health. Why not, if the president is alive, why not just say so? And why are government officials no longer trooping to Saudi Arabia to visit the president as they did in the first week of his hospitalization? This sudden stoppage of visits is also very curious and potents on a possible demise of the President. 

The submission that the president may have died is corroborated by the fact that no one in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the last 45 days has been able to produce evidence to prove to Nigerians that their president is alive other than the overused usual mantra that ‘the president is recovering and coming home soon.’ Having exhausted this mantra and unaware of what else to say, they have all suddenly gone mute avoiding reporters and spewing half truths. Only yesterday, Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili, could not provide any details of the purported call made by Yar’Adua to Jonathan and ironically, on the same day, the PDP governors in the country besieged the vice president’s residence in solidarity affirming their loyalty and commiserating with him on the political impasse that has deflowered his otherwise enchanting political escapades. But once again, this curious endeavor only begs the question – Why is there a need to affirm loyalty to Jonathan if Yar’Adua is still alive and is president. Nigerian politicians, with the greedy bones that pervade their bodies, would only paid allegiance to the one who holds power. Could this loyalty be anticipatory of a power shift? 

Recently, we were told that the President signed the supplementary budget on his sick bed in Saudi Arabia only for the truth to be exposed that such a signage did not occur. Who then signed on behalf of the president and why such a lie if the president is still alive and recovering as claimed by members of his secret cabinet. It is inconceivable even in the worst of dictatorships that the president of a democratic country will remain incommunicado for almost two months in the face of constitutional crisis and illegality such as the swearing-in of a new Chief Judge, a function that can only be performed by the president but instead was carried out by the out-going Chief Judge.  

We should recall well that in 1987, military president Ibrahim Babangida was away from the country for over a month in a French hospital seeking treatment – during this time, the country was properly briefed on his state of health and the mystery that is currently clouding Yar’Adua’s health was conspiciously absent. If there was transparency in the military era more than twenty years ago, is it too much to expect same in a civilian dispensation? Only today, the Foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Madueke, a key cabinent member, confessed that he has not spoken with the president for over six weeks in spite of seemingly insurmountable foreign policy challenges that would require any serious president to consult with his foreign policy experts to enhance decision-making. 

The curious activities of the First Lady, Turai, a few days ago would appear to confirm Nigerians’ worst fear about Yar’Adua’s demise. Turai, now dubbed the most corrupt First Lady in the history of Nigeria with her wont for kickbacks on contracts awarded by her husband, flew unannounced to Abuja with the cover of darkness and made straight to the inner vaults of Aso Rock to retrieve vital documents that may implicate her husband’s administration in future corruption investigations. So clandestine was this trip that only the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Abba Sayyadi Ruma and Alhaji Adamu Aliero, Minister of Abuja and former Governor of Kebbi, both close associates of Yar’Adua were informed and asked to make arrangements for her transportation to and from the airport.  Within three hours, Turai was back on the presidential jet with the vital documents in tow and jetted through the mournful Abuja clouds back to Saudi Arabia. We wonder what Turai knows that the rest of us are yet to know. 

The unsavory events of December 25th where a young, confused and morally bankrupt Nigerian, 23-year old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to decimate a US commercial jet with all the implications may invariably highten the suspicion on the president’s possible demise. If indeed Yar’Adua remains alive and recovering, why has he not seen it fit to make a statement if not in person at least through a spokesman condemning the attempted bombing, the US terror categorization and leading the charge to reclaim the country’s image. It is curious, isn’t it that such an event that could define his presidency and tarnish the country’s image for the next fifty years has not elicited any manner of response from the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces and the highest ranking official in the nation.  

In times like these, Nigerians expect their leaders to raise to the occasion with Yar’Adua engaged in serious discourse with his US counterpart on the way forward and on how to contain the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in northern Nigeria. This is an opportunity for both countries to reflect and renew their commitment to global peace and understanding, but with no president in Abuja or an ambassador in Washington DC, who is advocating for Nigerians? It behooves the mind that in the face of such intractable challenges that have profound implications for all Nigerians on the face of this earth, Yar’Adua remains a Houdini as the country is blacklisted leaving the National Assembly, a lawmaking body, and a lowly Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, to defend the nation.  

And what then is the motivation for the inner circle that may be aware of Yar’Adua’s demise to keep this knowledge close to their chest in the time being? Regrettably, the answer points to the very factor that undermines Nigeria’s ability and to use the words of the vice president to ‘sail to greatness’, the factor of ethnic and religious politics, the bane of our mental and emotional retardation as a nation. That the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian from the minority Ijaw ethnic group does not bode well with the Cabal that truly rules Nigeria from their inner sanctuary.  

We are all aware of the circumstances that led to Jonathan’s coronation as vice president of the country occasioned by Obasanjo’s master stroke. But those same circumstances are becoming his waterloo, being relegated and maligned when he should indeed be acting president. The north does not want to share it’s turn of leadership with a southerner and a Christian for that matter, as far as they are concerned, Jonathan is only in power to appease the restive Niger Delta militants and not expected to assume presidential power when the president is incapacitated.  

Therefore,  it is the hope of this Cabal that either Jonathan will resign in frustration and a northern Muslim appointed to replace him or the military led by a high ranking officer of northern Muslim extraction will intervene on account of the chaos the leadership vacuum is occasioning. The justification for a military coup abounds and principal among them would be the ability to contain Islamic extremism in the north and militancy in the south, a feat if accomplished that would be enticing to Nigeria’s Western admirer. Without equivocation, the Cabal will be satisfied with the outcome of both scenarios as long as they yield a northern presidency or head of state. 

If indeed Yar’Adua is alive, I wish him long life and good health, but under these circumstances, it is doubtful that he is and I pray that I am wrong.