Yar’Adua’s Secret Return To Nigeria

THE secret return to Nigeria by 2am last Wednesday of our ailing President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in two air-ambulances is a curious development that should worry every patriotic Nigerian who wants our democracy to succeed. That the President stole into the country and was whisked away by another waiting presidential automobile ambulance to a secret destination is foreboding and laden with ominous implications.

That Yar’Adua would steal into the country, abandoning his medications in Saudi Arabia, where he is being attended to by the best medical personnel in the world- from Asia, Europe and America, and elect to be brought back to Nigeria unannounced is indicative of one fact: that the orthodox medication has failed to address the President’s ailment; that the team of doctors attending to him in Saudi Arabia has come to their wits end and that the Saudi Government would not want a major crisis in their hands and consequently advised the President to return home and possibly have a deserved peaceful rest.

If this is the true situation, as it appears to be the case, one wonders why the true position of the President’s health has been shrouded in official deceit, lies and secrecy. Only last week Wednesday, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Garba Aminchi told Nigerians that he had seen and spoken with President Yar’Adua and that the President was responding to treatment. This was after several Nigerian dignitaries and government officials had tried in vain to see Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia. The reason for this failure to see Yar’Adua is that it was only the Saudi monarch that could give permission before anyone sees the President because he (Yar’Adua) was in the royal suite reserved only for the monarch’s guests. Only last week, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) sent yet another delegation to Saudi Arabia to see Yar’Adua. That delegation could not see him because they could not secure the approval of the King of Saudi Arabia.

Interestingly, the FEC team was the fourth team from Nigeria that had gone to see Yar’Adua. The three previous teams left Jeddah at various times without seeing Yar’Adua. The first was the governors’ team led by Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki. The second was the team of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led by its National Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor. The third team was the delegation of the House of Representatives, which met with the First Lady, Turai Yar’Adua.

With the surreptitious return of Yar’Adua, Nigeria has once again become a whirlwind of rumour and speculation driven by uncertainty over the whereabouts and state of health of President Yar’Adua. Even in this deluge of official lies and deceit, Ambassador Aminchi is dishing out falsehood after falsehood to pull the wool over our eyes by insisting that Yar’Adua is already walking, eating and can move about and that the President just needs some time to rest and go back to his work as President of Nigeria. But it will be recalled that upon his arrival in an air ambulance at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, television footages showed vehicular ambulances leaving the airport’s presidential wing, but showed no images of the sick President, yet Ambassador Aminchi would want Nigerians to believe that the President can walk, eat and move about.

In the more than three months that President Yar’ Adua has been away from the country, the Nigerian government virtually ground to a halt as all government activities came to a standstill. After more than two months of inertia, the National Assembly voted to empower Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, to take over as Acting President with a specification that Jonathan had to cede power to Yar’Adua upon his return if he is medically capable of leading the nation.

While no one should celebrate the deteriorating health condition of President Yar’Adua, it is important to stress that he can no longer function as President. In the confusion and official lies that has attended Yar’Adua’s absence, his wife Turai Yar’Adua has bestrode the political landscape like the de facto president; manipulating the state machinery to perpetuate a vicious hold on power and pave the way for the looting of the treasury by mindless crooks and charlatans in the corridors of power, who cannot even see the futility of their conduct. In an effort to retain her ailing husband’s grip on power, Turai Yar’Adua had been surreptitiously orchestrating an elaborate power scheme and has, in fact, been running the affairs of the country.

Until the volte-face by the National Assembly to install Goodluck Jonathan as the Acting President, Turai and her cabal of loyalists had succeeded in warding off all efforts to fill the leadership vacuum and thereby frustrated constitutional processes. This narrow-minded, peasantry, feudalistic cabal from Katsina is willing to sacrifice the Nigerian project, foist and impose their warped and stone-age feudalistic ideology on the whole Nigeria. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Until Jonathan’s appointment as Acting President, Nigeria was on the brink of a constitutional crisis that threatened to bring the country to its knees at a time when Nigeria is facing a number of challenges, not least the insurgency in the oil rich Niger Delta region, the growing state of insecurity in the country, power failure, collapse of national infrastructure, bourgeoning corruption, international classification of the country as a terrorist breeding ground, etc. As we have pointed out, Yar’Adua’s absence created a power vacuum, while demonstrators took to the streets of Abuja to demand a constitutional order on his absence and evidence about his true state of health. The truth is that, certain elements within the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) love this hiatus; they love the heedlessness and rudderlessness of government because they can proceed to loot and create their own little empires while the true state of the President’s health is kept secret.

There is no doubt that Yar’Adua’s sudden return to Nigeria is not only extremely comical, but also a political gimmick by a narrow-minded political cabal from Katsina that does not want Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President and then throw the country into more confusion. But patriotic Nigerians should not give them that space for this is a country that we have fought for; died for, imprisoned for and exiled for. We cannot allow them to succeed because Nigeria is our common heritage and not for the so-called kitchen cabinet from Katsina. We are aware that in the President’s absence, different institutions and officials of government took autonomous decisions because no one could sanction them. The absence of the President obviously left a big power vacuum in the country and ushered in a reign of power profiteering by a so-called kitchen cabinet imported into Abuja from Katsina, their track-record being that they were in-charge of Katsina state during Yar’Adua’s several medical trips abroad as Governor of Katsina State.

Yar’Adua’s unannounced return is driven by greed and mindless political power calculations by those who plotted and executed his emergency return. The calculation of those who ensured his return is driven by a morbid ambition to continue to be relevant in the political process and also be part and parcel of selecting from among themselves or, their cohorts who would be Vice President to Goodluck Jonathan and nominating ministers in the post Yar’Adua era. This cabal wants to be a permanent feature of the political process so that they will continue to misrule the country, share oil blocks and juicy contracts. This is indeed regrettable. For how long are we going to continue like this? This is a country that is stupendously endowed but almost destroyed by ineptitude, blinding ambition to rule, abject craven for primitive accumulation and a feudalistic tendency that would shame even the Czar of Russia and the land owners of the medieval age. Obviously, these people do not have the interest of Nigeria at heart; they care less for the future of the country or even about the consequences of their actions. They are therefore our common enemies; they are moles and red herrings whose interest is purely to subvert the sovereignty of this country.

Otherwise they would not have taken Yar’Adua to Saudi Arabia in the first instance. If Saudi Arabia has the best medical facilities in the world, how come the Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia went to take treatment in the United States of America? And we must call to question certain actions allegedly taken by President Yar’Adua while in hospital in Saudi Arabia. One of such questionable action was the Appropriation Bill. In this connection, the Appropriation Bill purportedly signed into law in far away Saudi Arabia by President Yar’Adua, who exhibited congenital and invertebrate incapacity to transmit his medical vacation letter to the National Assembly deserve immediate investigation.

I am minded to remind Nigerians that we have endured a torturous journey to this point in our march to nationhood. We can no longer allow the country to be taken for a ride. For every patriotic Nigerian, this is the time to speak out; to condemn this rape on our democracy, decency and sensibilities. This is the time to call these political miscreants and misfits to order and reclaim Nigeria’s high destiny. Those who claim to love Yar’Adua more than Nigeria but misled him should retrace their diabolical steps and undertake the penitent act of advising him to formally resign from office today. This is the only honourable way out. Nigeria must be saved from her current state of anomie.

Goodluck Jonathan should be sworn-in immediately to complete the remaining part of their tenure; that is what the constitution stipulates; that in the event of the President’s incapacitation through health or other reasons, the Vice President should be sworn-in as President. Any other plot to abort this clear constitutional provision can only breed chaos and may become the signature tune for the disintegration of this country. By their actions, this is what the cabal from Katsina is working towards but we will not give them the opportunity to do that. The insinuation that Yar’Adua should complete the term even in his near fatal state is arrant nonsense; an insinuation that should be jettisoned at once. How can a President sneak out of the country for three months on serious health grounds and remain incommunicado and suddenly was smuggled into the country in an air ambulance in the wee hours of the night and people are still lying about his incapacitation to continue in office? As much as we sympathize with Yar’Adua over his illness, governance must go on. The only way genuine governance can endure is for Yar’Adua to resign and Goodluck Jonathan sworn-in as the substantive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No single individual or group is greater than Nigeria. Enough is enough!

Nwankwo, Leader of Peoples Mandate Party (PMP) and Chancellor, Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)