The party appears to be over for ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as the same forces that made Chief Olusegun Obasanjo president in 1999 have taken a critical decision: “It’s time up for you, Mr. President”. Towards this end, they have not only withdrawn their formidable support for his presidency, they are of the strong view that the nation is bigger than one individual and cannot be held hostage by the interest of one man and his group.
Saturday Sun gathered from impeccable sources that the powerful group which has a former army chief and a respected leader in the North as one of the arrow heads, also has two former heads of state, retired top civil servants, some first class emirs, bureaucrats and some serving governors of northern extraction in the group.
The reasoning of the group, Saturday Sun investigations reveal, is the ‘embarrassment and ridicule’ which the epileptic nature of the Yar’Adua presidency has subjected the north and the nation in general to since 2007 when he (Yar’Adua) took the reins of power.
Said an inside source to the workings of the group: “This is not about the North being in power. This is not about liking or hating Yar’Adua. This is about the unwillingness to continue the pretence that we have a president. Nigeria has had no functional president since 2007 and it is not right to continue the hypocrisy.”
The group also believes that, “The president should in his own interest and the higher interest of the nation be allowed to tend to his failing health and have a deserved rest. A country is greater than an individual. How can we say that only one man is fit to rule us out of a population of over 160 million people? How can we say Yar’Adua must remain president whether he is ill or half ill? How can we say that those calling for Yar’adua’s resignation are evil or unpatriotic simply because they are saying the obvious that this man hasn’t been effectively in charge, that he can’t be effectively in charge because of his ill-health for which we sympathize with him? It’s those who want him to continue in power that actually hates him, they are the sycophants.”
In the view of the northern coalition in the Operation Save Nigeria Project, what is happening in the country today is a throw- back to previous administrations when pressures were also mounted on incumbent leaders to continue in power against popular opinion.
“We saw it during the Abacha days. The man was ailing and dying yet shameless politicians and other opportunists asked him to stay on forever. They were also the architects of the ill-fated Obasanjo third term misadventure. Now, they are holding Umaru by the jugular and asking him to continue even when they know that the man is tired.”
Saturday Sun further learnt the very influential northern bloc which actually facilitated Obasanjo’s release from Yola Prison and drafted him into the presidential race, have held series of meetings in the nation’s capital to deliberate on the most suitable northern candidate to act as deputy to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-president who will be supported to act as president in line with constitutional provisions. One of such meetings held in Wednesday in Abuja also.
With the withdrawal of their critical support for the Yar’Adua presidency, some public affairs observers of the nation’s delicate power game who spoke to Saturday Sun in the strictest confidence believe that it will be a matter of time before Yar’Adua finally throws in the towel.
Said one of the sources: “We know how the third term battle was fought and won. We know how Yar’Adua became president. We know when the game is over. We know Yar’Adua can’t hold on for too long. We know this group of people is serious-minded. And they believe enough is enough. That Nigeria can’t continue to be a laughing stock in the comity of nations. Yar’Adua’s presidency has neither benefited the North nor the nation. We don’t even have a presidency. We have a president and nothing more.
We can’t continue to embarrass ourselves.”
In a related development, the chairman of the octopus umbrella body for the North, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Gen. I. B. M Haruna, lashed out at the leadership of the Northern Union for insisting that even if Yar’Adua resigns, the North would never allow another part of the country produce the next president.
In an interview with the Saturday Sun at the launch of veteran journalist, Peter Enahoro, a.k.a. Peter Pan’s book, Then Spoke the Thunder at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, Haruna said the Olusola Saraki-led group was being greedy for power. “Is that what the constitution says? Such statements are reckless and provocative. They should be careful not to plunge the nation into crisis. They should remember Honduras and other parts of the world engulfed by crisis,” said Haruna, as he argued that the president’s ill-health should not be the sole yardstick for calling for his resignation. “Did the constitution say the president can’t be ill? That when he’s ill he should resign. He’s not a super human being.”
Former defence minister under the Obasanjo administration, Gen. Yakubu Danjuma, also recently warned against the instigation of another civil war by the unguarded comments of politicians concerning the current political impasse and the president’s ill-health.
Now, as the nation awaits the president’s return from Saudi Arabia where he is undergoing treatment for heart-related ailment, the political yo-yo game continues. And the people wait with bated breath.