In some instances, African custom discourages speaking evil of the dead or the evil they did but in all cases, moral law forbids lying. For anyone who is in dilemma of choosing between talking about the evil deeds of a dead man and lying of the good he never did, silence would have been a golden escape route. To say I was flabbergasted at the outpouring eulogies for the late President Umaru Yar’Adua
from both official quarters and from private citizens about his honesty, integrity, love for Nigeria, humility, good governance and transparency…….is to say the least. I was aghast at the near unanimous endorsement and praise of all and sundry for the three years he spent in Aso rock as the nation’s number one citizen.
All of a sudden, death made a Saint of the deceased leader. Some called him blameless, some said he loved Nigeria till the end and some even described him as the best thing to have happened to Nigeria. Hmmmmm?
After reading some of these messages and then reflecting on what has become of our dear country in the last three years especially in the last six months, I couldn’t but see insincerity, deception, pretence, lying, hypocrisy and bandwagon syndrome in the messages.
According to President Jonathan, “He will therefore always occupy a pride of place in the political history of our dear nation. He was a man of great personal integrity, deep devotion to God and outstanding humility. In all his public service, he displayed uncommon commitment to the peace, progress and unity of our country”. “He has left for us a profound legacy that provides a firm foundation for Nigeria’s future. His exit has therefore created a huge vacuum in his personal contributions to the political growth and development of our nation. I have lost not just a boss but a good friend and brother,” the president further said.
As President, Jonathan was not only speaking for himself but for the entire nation. Looking at his statement, we can all say it was far from the truth when considering what Nigeria, Nigerians and the government (under the then VP Jonathan) had to go through under late President Yar’Adua presidency and all the cabals he surrounded himself with.
President Jonathan’s recent interview granted to CNN said the obvious and we could see that there was no love lost between him and his former boss who would only inform him of his Saudi trip when he was already mid-air. He was very sincere that he had a sustained discussion with his former boss only on his third or fourth day in Saudi and that even after several attempts he wouldn’t be allowed to meet him after returning to Abuja. It was also an open secret that he was hardly involved in any core government activities and discussions and was relegated to the bare background in government matters.
As a Nigerian, I knew the late President as the Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of my beloved country and my assessment of him would be based on that. I did not know him privately neither would I like to assess his private life but his public life that affected my life, my generation and my people and my children.
I could say of the late president that he appeared humble, soft-spoken with few words and the former President Obasanjo said he was not corrupt as governor of Katsina State. This might informed why many assumed he was a godsent. If presidency is only about being quiet and calm, he might share the spot with former President Shagari as the best President Nigeria ever had but presidency is far from that.
As Nigeria president, he was able to initiate the Niger-Delta Amnesty programme which his failing health denied him of bringing to a conclusive end. This has brought relative peace to the zone. But there is no way, we’d praise him for this without remembering his many failures.
He failed woefully to deliver on power, one of his 7 point agenda for which he promised to declare a state of emergency. He failed to fight corruption rather he courted the corrupt and he also failed in some other areas of governance.
As a people, we need to find the courage to say no to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity. It is not virtuous to celebrate mediocrity in life or in death. We also need to have the courage to say the truth and stop praising the dead for the good they never did.
Of all his failures he would be mostly remember for two things: He failed to build a team such that could be running the government smoothly as he would always have to battle with his health. Government shouldn’t be about a person rather teamwork and institutions. He could have capitalized on his weak state to build a strong team led by the VP. This would have made the difference between potentiality and actuality.
Secondly, he would be remembered for the incessant appearing and disappearing to Saudi Arabia for ‘lesser Hajj’, ‘University commissioning’ and finally for treatment any thereby grounding government process by creating power vacuum and refusing to hand over to his VP whenever the need arose. The acts were so embarrassing for the nation and almost turned Nigeria to an international joke especially after the wake of Abdulmutallab’s saga.
Blame the Cabals for this! It is not proper for us for us to distance the late president from the activities of the cabal because he was the one who constituted and empowered them. He was the head of the cabals. Before his health got to rock bottom, he surrounded himself with the likes of Ibori as members of his kitchen cabinet. He retained the pervert Aondoakaa as the Attorney General to protect the cabals from prosecution at home and abroad and to also fight the real crime fighters like Nuhu Ribadu.
The good book warns us of our association. It says “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Psalm1:1
We need to be careful with the kind of friends we keep because they will surely be part of our personalities and friends really make or mar friends. No wonder they say ‘show me show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.’ And whatever a man sows, he reaps.
On integrity, while Obasanjo and Turai may be blamed for coercing him to the presidency but he would be blamed for keeping a job that was too strong for his health. He was the one who knew best how fragile his health was. He had the opportunity to resign so that he could fully attend to his health but he wouldn’t leave the office that would leave him someday. The health situation did not drop low in one day, it was gradual and there were enough signs and warnings that were visible to all. We saw it coming.
“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.” – Felix Adler
While President Yar’Adua couldn’t be said to deserve all those human encomiums, I wish him exactly what I wrote on my Facebook wall:
“Death is inevitable; it’s an integral part of life. In death comes your deserved chance to take a rest that your body and the cabal had denied you. And just as each person is destined to die once after which comes judgment (Heb 9:27), I wish you would find peace with your Creator. R.I.P. President Umaru Yar’Adua (1951-2010).” – Rufus Kayode Oteniya (email@example.com)
This writer is also a mortal who hope to die someday and would not wished to be dressed in borrowed robe. By my account and going by life expectancy here, I believe I’m in the second half of my life.