Nigeria: Secrets and lies

Last weeks return to Nigeria of President Yar’Adua in the dead of night has created even more intrigue and political back stabbing than when he was away in Saudi Arabia.   He is back but no one has seen him or at least if they have they are not telling the nation what they saw.   I cannot imagine what is in the mind of his minders and Madam Turai Yar’adua .  How long do they really believe they can hide the fact that the man is for all presidential purposes finished? Surely someone in the country has the backbone to stand up for the Constitution and expose the deceit and lies being committed against the nation.   I dont normally agree with Condoleezza Rice but she was right to say the office of the Presidency is bigger than any individual but Nigeria has not yet been able to accept that fact.  The office of the President and other Government officials are taken as personal domains along with the national purse.  Of course there are concerns and rumours about a possible military coup. I cannot see this happening as the military know fully well that neither the Nigerian people nor the rest of the world would accept that.  This is not to say the military are not exerting their influence and what happens could very well depend on whose side they end up supporting.

This article in Sahara Reporters highlights the corrupt behaviour of politicians more so with a weak leadership such as Goodluck Jonathan.   It seems that the Governors initial support of the Vice President was a ploy to enable him to release $2.5 billion in special oil reserves which was then partially distributed amongst themselves.  Now having got what they wanted the Governors have effectively stripped the VP of any power base he might have had putting him in an even weaker position than the whole of his time in office.

Meanwhile, Jonathan mustered some “courage” and began to reach out to people across all political spectrums with the aim of achieving full presidential powers. “But the groups he consulted had conflicting interests that shaped their response to him,” said one of our sources, an informal advisor to Jonathan. He said Jonathan’s “limited experience, his lack of clear ideas about what to do with power, left him indecisive.” Another source, who worked with Jonathan during his days as governor in Bayelsa, also described him as “a scared man who marooned himself in Abuja, afraid that Yar’adua loyalists might kill him.”

I have always maintained that Jonathon was chosen because he was felt to be weak and therefore manageable.   Those close to Yar’Adua must have known his health might not see him through 4 years but there was also the political imperative to have a Niger Delta VP.   It is so predictably typical of Nigeria’s politicians that rather than insist on Yar’Adua relinquishing the Presidency, they are more concerned with their own personal gain.  Nonetheless there remains a bright light in this shameful saga as explained in an article by Funmi Feyide-John published in Pambazuka News a few weeks ago.

[She] describes the events and steps that are being taken within Nigeria to fill the presidential seat: Peaceful demonstrations, letters of demand, court cases, discussions amongst legislators and increasing general discontent. She holds that the handing over of power — be it permanently or temporarily — strongly indicates the strength of the people and the giant steps that are being taken to shape a truly Nigerian democracy.

Events have now overtaken those described by Feyide-John but civil society and pro-democracy groups continue to make their voices heard and put pressure on the government to do the right thing – force the Yar’Adua camp including his wife to admit the extent and nature of his illness and resign.   Install Goodluck Jonathan as President and prepare for the elections next year.   It really is quite simple!

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