Bola Egunjobi

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Yar’Adua Missing the Action

Posted by Bola Egunjobi on January 6, 2010

President Umaru Yar Adua

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua

My comments on a recent BBC News Story:

(Nigeria.) Our erswhile president is under a lot of pressure at home. But I doubt that he is feeling any of it. His personal number-one priority is surely his own health.

But that does not help matters ‘at the office’, and is certainly no use to the rest of us. There is a real vacuum at the head of the Nigerian government.

I consider it irresponsible of any chief executive to be away from office for several weeks without leaving a clear leadership in place. In my opinion Yar’Adua should have formally empowered Goodluck Jonathan. And it does not say much for the Federal Executive Council (or whatever guiding principles they have) that they have not stepped in so far to declare Yar’Adua (temporarily) unfit to rule because of his ill health and given Jonathan acting executive powers.

What we are left with then is the predictable, inevitable mess:

(1.)  The Nigerian Bar Association asking the Federal High Court to compel the Federal Executive Council to do the right thing. (This is a good move, but why does it have to take the NBA to ask the FHC to ask the FEC?!!)

(2.)  Human Rights activists are asking a judge to annul cabinet decisions taken in the president’s absence; heck thanks Yar’Adua, now your cabinet is making unconstitutional decisions because you failed to put the right structure in place when you took sick leave – an outgoing chief justice is swearing-in his successor because the country does not have a president to perform the ceremony!

(3.)  And from the sublime to the absolutely riddiculous -the Human Rights Writers Association is asking for the president to be declared “missing”?!!! He is not missing, he is in a Saudi hospital with heart and kidney problems. But when the lion has made a kill even the rats and the maggots come out to play.

And what is this nonsensical excuse about shortening the north’s run if Goodluck Jonathan were to take over the Yar’Adua presidency? One of the roles of the vice-president is to be president-in-waiting. Did the fools who devised the ridiculous system of alternating power between north and south not consider this eventuality? What silliness made anyone consider that alternating the country’s executive leadership between north & south is an antidote for disharmony anyway? In my opinion this process only highlights the north-south divide more clearly and actually (God help us) writes it into our constitution! Rather, we should always let the ‘best’ person win – even if it means having a long run of northern presidents or a long run of southern presidents. And we should definitely not put ideological road blocks in the path of the constitution when it needs to empower the vice-president of the country to do what is right by assuming full executive responsibilities.

My call to our president Umaru Yar’Adua is this: please just raise yourself from your Saudi sick-bed long enough to do the right thing – formally devolve all executive powers to your vice-president until you are well enough again to resume duty. If Yar’Adua is too unwell or too unwilling to take this step, then the Federal Executive Council should take action – either impeach the president (if he is able but unwilling to do the right thing) or hand power to the vice-president temporarily (if the president is too unwell to make the decision).



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