Thursday, January 28, 2010

President Yar'adua's Health And The Nigerian Politics

Pin It Now!
President Umaru Musa Yar’adua left Nigeria about 66 days ago for Saudi Arabia on account of ill health. The president left the country on the 23rd of November 2009 after he was diagnosed with a heart problem and ever since his health and the seat of presidency have remained a subject of national debate.
Interesting as this national debate has been, the national house of assembly seems to be helpless about the whole situation. To start with, I understand there is a provision in section 145 of our federal constitution (1999) which says that in the event that the president could no longer perform his duty the vice president should be declared the acting president. This section of our constitution has been interpreted differently by different people just to keep heating up the polity. While a faction of the house of senate strongly advocates a strict adherence to the provisions of our constitution another group believes the president is strong enough to continue in office; the third group is on the fence: they are neither in support of the constitutional provision nor are they against it.
While the senate is busy debating section 145, the House of Representatives seems to be completely indifferent. They do not seem to be bothered that their country has been without a president for 66 days. The best they have done so far on this issue was to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia to see how the president was faring. Well, I understand they never had an access to the president. The Federal executive council had earlier done the same thing with the same result, so the mission embarked upon by the Reps was no longer necessary since everybody has been tactically prevented from seeing him or even speaking with him. The minister of information, Professor Dora Akunyili does not even know anything about Mr. President’s health and so she has remained helpless; she even owned up that she has been in the dark. She complained that the President was supposed to have briefed the nation through a press conference but surprisingly a BBC interview was arranged for the president, which is casting doubts on the minds of so many Nigerians as to whether their Head of State is still alive.
The Federal Executive Council has also added more confusion to the whole thing by saying that the President was fit to continue in office and was even free to rule the country from anywhere and for how long he cared. They have by that declaration added support to the earlier one made by the minister of justice. History should not be forgotten so soon: in 1998, our then head of state Gen. Sanni Abacha had a protracted illness but those hanging around the seat of power encouraged him to remain in office instead going to seek medical help. What happened later, he died in office. This I think should be a food for thought for our president.
Besides, the civil service law in Nigeria allows a civil servant to be absent from office on account of ill health for 42 days after which he should be declared no more fit to continue. Having spent 66 days and not certain when to be discharged, do we really think President Yar’adua is fit to continue in office? Come to think of it, this a man who already has renal problem and recently heart problem surfaced, is the stress of running the country not enough to compound his health problems? Anybody who truly loves him should advise him to honourably vacate his office and rest so he could have enough time to fully recuperate.
The ruling by the federal high court last week on this matter should be respected as the president himself believes so much on the rule of law. The people’s Democratic Party should fast to save this country from anarchy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Nigeria: A Terrorist or Peace-loving State?

Pin It Now!
The recent branding of Nigeria as a terrorist state by the Obama’s administration is no doubt eliciting reactions from people over the globe, especially from those who have known Nigeria to be a very peaceful, accommodating, receptive, religious and hospitable state.
President Obama, by my calculation, was too hasty to have made that pronouncement without recourse to proper investigation and a fair, open trial of the person involved to be sure whether or not he had the backing of his country. Nigeria no doubt has an enviable record in terms of world peace and has played a pivotal role in the pursuance of peaceful co-habitation by countries who share boundaries. The way and manner she handled the boundary problem she had with Cameroon testifies to the fact that she respects the right of other countries even when she had the power to subdue Cameroon as a weaker country. She could have as well refused to obey the decision of the International court of Justice (after all there are countries who have refused to respect their rulings).
Nigeria has been the highest supplier of man power to the United Nations peace-keeping operations world-wide (only second to Pakistan). She played a key role in restoring peace to Kosovo. She has been the mainstay of ECOMOG, supplying more than 50% of personnel and equipment needed to keep ECOMOG going, participating in restoring peace to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, etc. Nigeria was also instrumental to the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa.
It is a known fact that Nigerians are a peace-loving and hospitable people. The country has hosted several international programmes without any record of anybody having been molested or terrorized while in the country. She hosted the African Soccer Nations Tournaments in 1980 and 2000, FIFA U-21 world youth championship in 1999, FIFA U-16 world cup 2009, All African Games in 2003, Common Wealth Heads of Government meeting, just to mention a few and no one went back home with stories of having been maltreated.
Recently the internal problems we had in the country-the Niger Delta crises (which has nothing to do with terrorism or international affairs anyway) were handled in such a matured manner by the Nigeria government that the world had to salute her for the declaration of amnesty which ensured that nobody was unduly victimized after the crisis.
Nigerians are every where in the world (including America) and are contributing their quotas to help develop those countries. Notable among Nigerians who have contributed immensely to the progress of America are Dr Philip Emeagwali the father of the Internet (the only man who has single-handedly won the Gordon Bell’s award), Dr Talabi who restructured the American 911 response system after the September 11 attack, and others too numerous to mention. I am sure the American government is aware of these facts and if so why have they not branded Nigeria a ‘Technology state’? If using a single person out of about 150 million persons is a good yardstick to brand a nation it therefore would mean that all countries are terrorist states, America inclusive; because in every country there is definitely somebody who is bad no matter how good the country is.
In as much as I do not support the attempt by Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab to bomb an America-bound aircraft, I wish to say that tagging Nigeria a terrorist country is a calculated attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Everyone should be fair to Nigeria just as she is fair to everyone.