Africa

The Nine Lives Of President Yar’Adua

I wonder what it feels like for a man to read of and listen to his own obituary. The late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first high profile Nigerian to experience it and judging from his reaction, it was not fun. President Umaru Yar’Adua has the rare distinction of having to listen to and read of news of his own death twice, first during the run up to his election as President in 2007 and now. In the first instance, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo rained curses on those whom he said wished his annointed successor dead.  President Yar’Adua has not towed that line but has wisely refrained from such market square tendencies in what is turning out to be Nigeria’s longest macabre death watch. President Yar’Adua has ‘died’ twice and yet is still alive. A celebrated and televised phone call from President Obasanjo to candidate Umaru Yar’Adua on his hospital bed in Germany dispelled the first rumoured death. This time a telephone call between Nduka Obaigbena and the President in Saudi Arabia may be sufficient to quell this current rumor of a second death.
 
This President has nine lives and has already lived two of them. What ever is the true situation between the attendance of the lesser Hajj and medical treatment, the management of information regarding the President’s condition is patently faulty, especially if media reports that senior officials of government are also in the dark is true. Where do we locate the truth? In the absence of anything resembling the truth, speculations, half baked analyses and rumours thrive with devastating effect. People now routinely wonder if the President will actually attend advertised functions. When he attends, the audience is distracted as they search for evidence of ill health. A quiet Presidential cough receives more huddled analysis than what he said, sufficient to start talks of succession and impeachment on grounds of ill health. Why are the managers of information seemingly so inept especially where it is common knowledge that the President’s health is less than ideal? Nigerians deserve to be told the nature of this ailment. I am in complete agreement with Lai Mohammed who said, ‘as the President, Yar’Adua is the father of the nation.
 
YaraduaThe health of the father cannot be kept as a secret from his children,’ adding that ‘what should have earned the President the sympathy and prayers of his country men and women have again become a matter for wild speculations.’ I cannot in any way fault Lai Mohammed, the spokesman for the opposition political party AC, because even they put aside their electoral dispute and appropriately wished the President full recovery while praying that God should grant him good health to enable him steer the ship of State in the right direction. Government should not lose this opportunity to unite the nation behind our ailing President by disclosing the true position of his health. As someone who believes in prayer, even if the medical condition is beyond doctors, it is not beyond God. Nigerians in their millions would stand with him in prayer. There is absolutely no reason to withhold information that will eventually be available before long especially with foreign news agencies like the AFP that named the hospital where the President is said to be receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia.
 
Even Muslim clerics weighed in to declare that the lesser Hajj does not take up to ten days to perform. The daunting issues of governance, namely provision of infrastructure, security, the crushing burden of wide spread poverty, Vision 2020 and a legion others are enough to task a normally healthy person. If President Yar’Adua needs three or even six months to seek proper medical attention in any hospital, any where in the world, he should  tell the nation, hand over to the Vice President, supported by a team of core professionals  and get the treatment he needs, then come back to continue in office. He owes this much to his wife and children and also the nation. That is the only way he would live his nine lives to the fullest, not through what is presently a clandestine, hide and seek medical care during which every day of absence seems to confirm the worst. 
 
On the last day of the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama made it clear that within ten years, the United States would be free of dependence on foreign oil, confirming my views in one of my articles titled ‘Crude Oil Is Living On Borrowed Time.’  If we want to develop in a hurry, we must treat crude oil as if its relevance will end with President Yar’Adua’s first term. Only a President in a considerable state of wellbeing can turn this looming calamity into an opportunity.   Those who wish their fellow man death are sowing seeds in their own lives for which every sower reaps a harvest. Sow the right seeds and pray for this President.
CSN: 65501-2008-17-20

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