Umoru! Umoru!! Where are you? – Ex President Obasanjo to Yar’adua

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William Shakespeare was indubitably the best playwright that ever lived. What is not clear is whether he also acted to complement his gift of play writing. What is the essence of drama? It is to make real the internal constructions of the mind. It is used to entertain, educate and also to deceive. Actors wear false personalities on the stage to play characters that are not originally theirs and to hide their real identities. William Shakespeare never knew that his plays would become so popular and powerful as to attract such a wide readership. His plays made him in death what he was not in life.

Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo -1999 -2007

Professor Wole Soyinka is and remains one of the best playwrights in Africa. He is for now the only Nigerian to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. There are also other playwrights like Ola Rotimi and Zulu Sofola who have enlivened and enlightened the world with their works of play. Of course, drama is a part and parcel of mankind and has always unfolded in God’s relationship with his people. Lest I forget, God is the first playwright. Think of the story of Creation. Think of the story of The Fall of man. Think also of the drama of salvation of man through Jesus Christ. It took thousands of years. Again when it began to unfold, the Jews were too blind to understand it. Jesus Christ was born in a manger in the most hopeless town then. His people did not believe in him even though they liked his miracles, especially of multiplying bread. They later killed him unjustly as an insurrectionist. His death was to save mankind. Why did Jesus have to die to bring life to man? All the answers so far given are wonderful academic Theology. The practical Theology is that God, the greatest playwright has written a drama of salvation of man from the beginning and directed it himself.

The drama that surrounded the deceased President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umar Musa Yar’ Adua is a case-study in drama. Even our Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka will find it an onerous task to interpret it. It is highly above him. It is only God, and probably, the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the now popular Cabal, who became the major actors of the drama that can interpret it. The rest of the millions of Nigerians were mere spectators and so are we still.  

President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua had ‘died’ many times before his death. This does not make him a coward. His last and final death of 9th May is an official one; when they decided to tell us the truth. When the taciturn former governor of Katsina State was all of a sudden chosen to run the presidential race on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in 2007, it was a surprise. Some other more flamboyant governors of the party like Donald Duke and Peter Odili, who did not hide their ambition to become the No. 1 citizen were beaten to the game. It was the handwork of the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo. He knows his reasons. The dead president’s brother, late Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua was his vice as the military head-of-state between 1976 and 1979. Apart from this, it was said that Obasanjo wanted to remain relevant in Nigerian politics and therefore wanted a president he could manipulate, hence the choice of the quiet and ailing Yar’ Adua. Umaru might not have taken these into consideration and could have been overjoyed at the prospects of being the president of Nigeria. Contesting on the platform of the PDP means automatic win.

In spite of his frail health, the former president joined in the campaign tours of all the states of Nigeria. His health gave serious signs of weakness when he fainted during one of the outings. He was flown abroad for treatment and the first rumour of his death spread. But the campaign continued without him. In another outing and on the heat of the first rumour of the former president’s death, the then President Obasanjo who, as the president, toured the country with his party, put a call to Yar’ Adua in a hospital in far away Germany. The phone was connected to a speaker and OBJ shouted, “Umoru! Umoru!! Where are you!?” A voice responded to the cheering of the party supporters. They were convinced that the ex-president did not die. He later returned to continue his campaign, though with more care. From then till his death, and at one point or another, we had asked where our president was. 

Nigeria President Yar’adua 2007 -2010


The 2007 elections were indeed controversial. But Umar Musa Yar’ Adua was declared the winner. He also won in the Courts. The stage was then set for him to rule Nigeria. It is on record that he was the first graduate to rule the country and the first to acknowledge the irregularities that marred the processes that threw him up. Judging from the way he began by deconstructing some badly constructed and ill conceived projects of his predecessor, he was believed to have good intention for the country and that he could have done much better. But his illness did not allow him and when he became a regular customer to the hospitals abroad, the Cabal and Turai took over the leadership of the country, leaving the vice-president in the dark. There was a time the ex-president ended his lesser hajj in a hospital in Saudi-Arabia. His aides continued the drama of deceit that the president was hale and hearty. Another rumour of his death spread. He later returned to take up the leadership of the country once more. However, it was obvious then that he could not continue with the burden of leadership of the country of 150 million people. At a time, it was said that the ex-president could not stay up to four hours in the office a day. The rest of the day would be completed by Turai, who with the Cabal nudged him to hang on to power. Helplessly, he did hang and Nigeria suffered.

On 23rd of November, 2009, President Yar’ Adua’s frail frame had to defy the Cabal and Turai and bowed to the intense pressure of peridicitis. He was stolen out of the country and for about three months, Nigerians did not know the where about of their president.  The members of the powerful Governors’ Forum and Federal Executive Committee (FEC) that went to see him were sent back without seeing him. Back home, Nigerians groaned without a leader as there was a stalemate. The politics of whether the vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan would be made the acting president began. The National Assembly was unwilling to invoke Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the ground of technicalities. The belief of the generality of the Nigerians was that some forces especially the Cabal did not want Goodluck to succeed Yar’ Adua. However, as the storm raged, Goodluck never raised any dust. He believed in his good luck and because he is married to Patience, he took his travails with utmost patience. The Doctrine of Necessity was later manufactured, making it possible for Goodluck to be made the Acting President.

Just a few days after Goodluck was named the Acting President, and following his first task of blowing the wind that carried the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mike Aondoakaa SAN– a mistake of the Yar’ Adua administration, without any prior information, President Yar’ Adua was brought home in the dead of the night with an air ambulance on 24th February, 2010. Nobody knew or saw what happened except the Cabal and Turai. The greatest humiliation for Goodluck was not just that he did not know that his boss would be brought home, but also he did not know how the order was given for Nigerian soldiers to go to the airport to mount the guard of honour for the ex-president. He had become the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria then. As if that was not enough, the Acting President was said to have been prevented from seeing the ailing president and until the death of Yar’ Adua, he never saw him. Yar’ Adua’s mother was also said to have been shut out from seeing his son. This was a high caliber drama that made many believe that the purported return of the ex-president was nothing but a hoax. Some others believed that another rumour of his death on 10th December, 2009 was true.

It was when the whole drama became something else that the great playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka sought to know the difference between the endless drama of the ex-president’s absence and the ones he wrote. He teamed up with the firebrand pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare to ask fundamental questions about the ex-president and the state of the nation under the aegis of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). They were very much instrumental to the National Assembly confirming Goodluck the acting president to the dislike of the Cabal. They were also instrumental to the Acting President’s removal of the immediate past chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu.

There are some fundamental questions begging for answer: Who are the members of this all powerful Cabal and what were they up to? What are the sources of their power? Why was Yar’ Adua’s illness so much shrouded in secrecy? Is there anything wrong in one being sick? What powers has Turai to privatise the country’s No. 1 citizen to the extent that the vice-president did not see him? The country should not keep quiet about this so as to avoid a repeat. Soyinka’s suggestion that Turai be prosecuted for kidnapping the president should be given a good consideration.

The whole drama that has kept the ill health of the former president in darkness and secrecy has given way to the stark naked truth with his death. President Umar Musa Yar’ Adua is no more and his vice, Goodluck Jonathan has been sworn in as the 14th president of Nigeria. The drama of speaking to Nigerians from his hospital bed in Germany is over. That of speaking through the BBC to the country from Saudi Arabia is over too. The era of giving the country a vain hope of being addressed by the ailing president ‘soonest’ is over. The drama is all over at last. How can the Cabal and Turai look into President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s eyes today?  The ancient saying that “One should be careful of those he meets on his way up for he may meet them again on his way down” should be evergreen in our mind. We are back to the reality of life and Nigeria must move forward. If we must move, all must join hands to make it real by supporting the new president to inject new life into the country and purge his government of the elements that write and direct the drama of deceit and darkness. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua was a good man. Those who surrounded him were not like him. May he rest in peace

*Rev. Fr. Muozoba 07060843010

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