Remembering Nigeria’s Apostle of Due Process: Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua

Honest intentions number among the finest qualities of Nigeria’s late President, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua. Were the man to be alive (in office) and healthy today, Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, would have been removed from office and most likely be on his way to Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons. That is if the Isoko man has not fled to China to enjoy his loot!

Respect for due process through a manifest adoption of rule of law in governance was a key element of Yar’Adua’s early days in office. Some of the little progress made in terms of sanctioning the untouchables in the polity began within the first few months of his active Presidency. While still actively in office, Yar’Adua did not put personal interest or that of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of Nigeria’s.

The late president did not lean on Federal Judges or heads or law enforcement agencies for them to actively subvert due process because he wants to protect certain political actors. The Action Congress (AC) and Labour Party (LP) were lucky that the cabal, which ran the rest of Yar’Adua’s period in office following his hospitalization, were not fully in charge when the judiciary was ‘allowed’ to do its job in Edo and Ondo states.

Yar’Adua had honest intentions about ensuring that impunity does not continue to reign supreme in Nigeria through the active connivance of highly placed officials of government. And in the spiritual, this should count for him as righteousness because according to a Hadith of Prophet Muhammed (SAW): “Actions are judged according to intentions.” But ill-health denied Yar’Adua the opportunity to translate his honest intentions about rule of law into action as others around him hijacked The Presidency and used it for personal gains contrary to the wishes of the then bed-ridden Nigerian leader.

Today, the man who is supposed to complete the remainder of Yar’Adua’s term is an exact opposite of what the Katsina-born politician represents. President Goodluck Jonathan, through his active support for the illegalities going on in Ogun State, turned Nigeria into a laughing stock globally. We are back in those periods when foreign heads of state laugh behind the back of our leaders who they see as nothing more than the old chiefs who sold their people for mirrors or hot drinks.

Long before the drama of nine legislators suspending 15 of their colleagues from the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA) began, the Speaker, Hon. Tunji Egbetokun, had written a save our soul letter to Jonathan detailing the security challenges facing the Legislative Arm of Government in the state. The letter had very detailed explanations about how Daniel has turned Ogun State into a military zone through his dictatorial acts backed by brute force against perceived opponents. It was clear Jonathan ignored the letter given the unsavoury events of the last few weeks.

But as fate would have it, Jonathan himself commissioned a detailed intelligence report on the 36 state governors. The report, which was submitted to Jonathan barely two weeks after the save our soul letter from the Speaker of the OGHA, was a very damning one for Daniel. It not only confirmed what Egbetokun had written earlier, additional details provided by the intelligence team commissioned to work on the assignment proved beyond reasonable doubt that another Gen. Sani Abacha had been let loose on hapless Ogun State residents.

Interestingly enough, instead of these facts assisting Jonathan to intervene on the side of the people, a source close to The Presidency confirmed that the illegalities being perpetrated by Daniel endeared him to the President. According to the source: “We cannot joke with that kind of person who has access to dangerous assets all over the South-West. He can make the (PDP) primaries and even general election bad for the president. We cannot allow him to use those bad resources for IBB, because we need him too.”

This perception, perhaps, was the signal Daniel received to activate nine OGHA legislators to suspend 15 of their colleagues under police cover at about 6.30am using the borrowed mace of Abeokuta South Local Government. Of course, the second illegality was the approval of a N100 billion bond for Daniel as they also illegally approved a Commissioner for Education, Mr. Yemi Akinwonmi.

Jonathan did not wait for long before showing his full support to this apostle of dictatorship. Barely 48 hours after Daniel emasculated the Legislative Arm of Government in a democracy, Jonathan appointed the Ogun State Governor the South-West Coordinator of his 2011 presidential election campaign team. And as if that was not enough, the President threw all decency to the dogs by allowing the illegal Speaker of Daniel, Mr. Yemi Coker, into a meeting he held with Speakers of states Houses of Assembly in Abuja recently. This was after Jonathan had sealed the OGHA against the G15, who Daniel feared might want to seat.

The tragedy in the unfolding drama of the absurd playing itself out with Jonathan as a lead actor is the fact that some of his supporters now claim the issues in Ogun State have nothing to do with the constitution. It is all politics, they claimed, saying that was why Jonathan invited the feuding PDP members in Ogun State to a meeting in Abuja recently. With this kind of argument, I sincerely believe Jonathan should now apologise to former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Chief Michael Andoakaa.

Andoakaa and the cabal who usurped Yar’Adua’s position and sidelined Jonathan from governance also canvassed similar arguments. But for civil society activists led by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), which insisted that due process be followed, it is uncertain if Jonathan would have been Nigeria’s substantive president today. And the same man is working against the same due process that brought him into office simply because he wants the services of an Abacha incarnate.

May the soul of Yar’Adua continue to rest in peace. But irrespective of Jonathan’s desires, impunity by myopic public office holders is on its way of out of our system. May Almighty Allah (SWT) in His infinite mercies send a President with the right intentions and actions to Nigeria in 2011. We pray that a leader who places personal interest above that of due process and society at large will NEVER emerge as President of Nigeria in 2011!

By Wale Adedayo

“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion. Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press. Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking. Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle. – Khalil Gibran