This writer is among
the community of Nigerians who have argued that President
Yar’Adua is human and should therefore be seen and treated
as such. It is for this reason that I have not seen anything
wrong in the president falling sick. However, events in the
last two months have cast huge doubt over our understanding
of the real meaning of political leadership in a democratic
society. This unfortunate deficiency has led to actions and
comments that have not only helped to heat up the polity,
but also created deep disaffection in government circles in
Rather than put national interest first, most of those who
have key roles to play in uniting and promoting democratic
ideals in this country are known to have indulged in
defending their nocturnal interests. It was through such
negative culture that tribalism and corruption took root and
destabilised the Nigerian nation immediately after gaining
political independence from Britain in 1960. There is no
gainsaying that the Nigerian Civil War of 1966 to 1970 was
ignited by unreasonable political and tribal sentiments.
Forty years after, Nigeria has not still recovered from the
loss brought about by that avoidable conflict. This is the
strongest reason why this writer was worried about how the
Aondoakaas handled the issue of the president’s illness.
For the sake of this piece, an Aondoakaa is a government
official that does not know where loyalty should be
directed. The National Pledge is explicitly clear about
I pledge to Nigeria my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity
And uphold her honour and glory
So help me God.
No mention was made of the president. What most of the
nation’s Aondoakaas are doing with regards the ill-health of
President Yar’Adua is nothing but sheer eye service. There
is actually no need for such in a healthy democracy. In
fact, eye service is mostly practiced during military
dictatorships, where the rulers assume maximum powers.
Dictators are usually so hungry for power that they are
prepared to do anything possible to be on the driving seat.
As a result, people do many unthinkable things in order not
to be seen as being against the system. But unlike the
unfortunate picture the Aondoakaas are painting all over the
place, neither Musa Yar’Adua nor Goodluck Jonathan are power
hungry. The Aondoakaas have only taken undue advantage of
the opportunity of the president’s ill health to bend his
gentle will to protect either their personal and tribal
The decision by the Aondoakaas to drive the Nigerian vehicle
with a flat tyre even when there is a dependable spare
speaks volume. It has revealed two critical issues:
Nigeria’s Vice Presidential institution has been utterly
rubbished. This is undemocratic and capable of distorting
the history of this nation. Furthermore, the devaluation of
the exalted office of the vice president will deny Nigeria
the benefits of “two good heads are better than one” theory.
Secondly, the narrow gullies dividing the nation’s numerous
tribes would be widened. Tribal concerns are now being
considered first before national interests. It only points
to the sad fact that Nigeria’s political and traditional
leaders have rested the foundation of this country on very
One question begging for answer is: Will the Aondoakaas be
glad to see Nigeria disintegrate in the very near future?
The unity of a multi-tribal country like Nigeria cannot be
sustained by mere rhetoric. It would require high dose
common sense, justice, and fair play. Unfortunately, we are
very far from it!
Whether the nation’s Aondoakaas like it not; the highly
suspicious signing of the 2009 Supplementary Budget by the
president in his sick bed in Saudi Arabia and the
swearing-in of a Chief Justice of the Federation by a
serving Chief Justice have unarguably jolted our fragile
democracy. Rather than portraying leadership as an ideal
platform to serve humanity, the Aondoakaas are making many
to see political power as a potent weapon to advance
All the goodwill Nigeria lost by way of a poorly organised
general election in 2007 would have been redeemed with a
matured handling of the president’s illness. By this alone,
the international community has once again confirmed that
Nigeria is not ready yet for democracy. South Africa and
Ghana are not waiting for us.
When Yar’Adua assumed the presidency in 2007, many Nigerians
were very hopeful. He was bold enough to openly accept that
the elections that ferried him to Aso Rock was far from
being credible and promised electoral reforms. More than
half way into his four year tenure, no one is sure if the
issue of electoral reform is still important to him.
According to recent newspaper reports, what is upper most in
President Yar’Adua’s mind now is how to handle the issue of
domestic and international terrorism.
It is no longer news that the much talked about 7 Point
Agenda too has failed. This failure has nothing to do with
health status of the president. President Yar’Adua is a
victim of his own actions. He made the greatest mistake of
his political career by surrounding himself with a squad of
Aondoakaas. A president does not need to be 100% healthy to
deliver the dividends of democracy. Franklin Roosevelt of
the United States is a good example. Steady electricity,
motorable roads, functional hospitals, well funded schools,
and social security for the unemployed are products of good
governance. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is not a
superman. He is just an ordinary mortal like anyone else.
While a litre of petrol sells for just N6 in Venezuela,
those of us in oil producing communities in Bayelsa State
buy same quantity for N150. Education is free at all levels
in that South American country.
Yar’Adua’s ill-health and go slow culture is not the problem
with Nigeria. It is the Aondoakaas that is our problem. This
writer believes that the making of Goodluck Jonathan as
acting president has further demonstrated that democracy has
the capacity to promote the unity and development of this
country. Nevertheless, justice and fair play are the pillars
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