WHO CARES IF OUR PRESIDENT IS AWAY FOREVER?

Posted on July 19, 2012

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TIMELINE  4th February 2010; 21:30 Hour

PLACE  is Buka 5, University of Ilorin Main  Campus.

While we were watching the NTA network news and at the same time doing ‘justice’ to Fufu and Efo soup, a friend of mine asked me a question loudly enough for all the five students in the Buka to hear; why do we need a president after all? Before I could answer my friend, a student from the Faculty of Arts, who was demolishing his plate of bread and beans, said ‘Yeah, why do we need a president in Nigeria? Absentee President Umaru Yar’adua and his cronies have shown clearly that there is no great need for a president’.

A fifteen minutes discussion subsequently followed, and if not that we were in examinations period and that the Vice Chancellor had ordered all business enterprises in the school to always close before 10 pm, I bet the discussion would have taken much longer. Some people would have expected that a discussion on an issue like Yar’adua between undergraduates would have been better described as an argument. But it was like there was a kind of consensus among the students, who hitherto did not know each other, on the issue. They all agreed that there is no more need for the presidency if Nigeria could  survive without a president or acting president for about 70 days.

‘While we had president nothing was happening and now without a president, nothing is happening also. Sodiq, last semester you and I, we were always at this Buka area, if we are not eating three Fufu one meat no coke we would be eating beans and bread with nothing.  Then we had a president. Now when we have no president, what are we taking? Same thing!’ My friend said jokingly.

As an incurable optimist and democrat (at least that is what my friends say) I had wanted to argue that there was a need for a president in our country. I wanted to say that had we had a president or acting president, the Farouq Mutallib terrorism saga would have been better handled and Nigeria would not have found herself on a US watchlist. I wanted to add that the 6000 megawatts December 2009 target might have been met with a president on ground. I wanted to argue also that with a president on ground, the amnesty programme would still be working now and MEND would not be threatening to resume hostility. But I saw the futility in my own argument. My intellectual colleagues would have picked numerous holes in my argument.

President Yar’adua since assumption of office has not shown much promise to sustain Nigerians fast-dwindling interest in democracy. There has been somersault upon somersault of policies. Sometimes, it is not easy to know the stand of FG on most issues. His only achievement in his first year was the much-publicized enthronement of rule of law and due process which Tell’s Dele Omotunde termed ruse of law and dew process. Dew process means that all a thief needs to do to avoid prosecution is to seek an injunction from the nearest court against the police. Kind of First come, first served, Buka’s rule!

Many critics have been questioning Yar’adua rule of law sincerity since his early days in office considering the kind of illegal and constitutional actions that have been taking place in his administration. Now, if there was any doubt as to the sincerity of  Yar’adua about his due process and rule of law campaign, the present power transfer tussle has cleared the doubt. President Yar’adua has held on to power for more than seventy days on a sick bed in a foreign country in flagrant disobedience of the constitution Mr. President swore to protect. Moreover, his major achievement in his second and third year is the famous and widely acclaimed Amnesty Programme. But several months into the programme, Niger Delta is still bedevilled with its numerous problems.

My point is President Yar’adua has not done much to make Nigerians really feel his impact and absence. We are only continued to be reminded of his absence by the media. When he was around, there were fuel crises, labour crises, incessant power outage, Boko Haram killings, Jos massacre, China murdering Nigerians, South African dehumanising film on Nigeria etc. In his absence we still have problems but there is nothing to show that his presence would have made things better. That is why I could not argue with my colleagues who have lost interest in Nigerian presidency and democratic institution. Nigerians, especially the youths, are getting disillusioned every day. How can we have a constitution that is only followed when it favours the ruling class? How can somebody as educated as Michael Andoaakaa be playing on the intelligence of Nigerians by saying that there is no vacuum in government and that Goodluck  Jonathan is already acting as president and there is no need for him to be sworn in as acting president? How can we be asking Nigerians to pray for a president who puts his personal interest over the country’s?. How can the national assembly expect Nigerians to believe in it when it continuously fails to do the right thing? How can we be asking our youths to be patriotic when our leaders are an epitome of unpatriotic acts?

But like one of my colleagues said; who cares if our President is away forever? Who cares if he failed to transfer power? Who cares?

Published widely on the campus of the University of Ilorin in February 2010. It is reproduced here for archival purposes only.

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