Monday, August 3, 2009

President Umar Yar'Adua, the "Statesman"

On face value, it seems that the rejected Nigerian stone is now turning out to be cornerstone of Ghanaian democratic governance. A lot of has been said about Ghana’s democratic governance in the last few weeks, in terms of how it has portrayed itself as the shining beam of Africa’s democracy. This was even further reiterated during the recent visit of US President, Barack Obama to Ghana. However, out of the woodwork came the statement from the Ex-Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings that the credit for Ghana’s electoral success should however go to Nigeria President, Umar Yar’Adua.

Ex-President Rawlings was quoted in a Ghanaian weekly newspaper saying "by the way, we claim to be the 'Gateway' but don't be surprised if Nigeria ends up as the destination, as they claim. It is important to keep in mind that it was partly Nigeria's intervention under President Yar'Adua's leadership that pulled the plug on Kuffuor and Nana Addo's intended adventure; not the Western powers, some of whom urged on the NPP's electoral fraud and theft in 2004. But for General Sarki Muktar (Yar'Adua's National Security Adviser)'s timely visit, we may very well be mourning and licking our wounds by now". According to the media report, President Yar'Adua feared that it would be catastrophic if Ghana's democratic process was disrupted and therefore initiated diplomatic moves to stem the tide.

It is common knowledge that the last December’s Presidential election in Ghana was a photo-finish. A clear winner did not emerge between the candidate of the then ruling party, Nana Addo and the opposition party's candidate, Prof. John Atta-Mills after the first ballot. This therefore resulted in a run-off that saw Prof. John Atta-Mills emerging as the winner.

A “statesman” is a leader in national or international affairs, who is a disinterested promoter of the public good. A statesman is someone who exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues. If indeed President Yar’Adua intervened in the Ghanaian elections as noted by Ex-President Rawlings, then there is no doubt that he has demonstrated strong leadership and statesmanship. However, is President Yar’Adua a true statesman?

If indeed he is a statesman, then the questions we should be asking are,why is he not doing the same in his home country Nigeria? Why has he not exhibited same leadership quality in Nigeria? Or is it that he is more interested in Ghanaian internal politics than Nigeria? Is the Ghana election more important that the last Gubernatorial election re-run in Ekiti state? Is intervening in Ghana politics more important that issues in Niger Delta? Is intervening in Ghana election more important that than ensuring good democratic governance in Nigeria?

President Yar’Adua is probably not just getting his priorities right. In fact, what moral authority does he have to advise Ghana on how it conducts elections? As the Yoruba adage says “ile la ti ko eso ro de” (meaning charity begins at home). How can the President of Nigeria think that failure of Ghanaian elections will be catastrophic, but it will be acceptable for elections in Ekiti to be rigged? I guess the people of Ekiti are not within his constituency (!). How can a man who potrays himself as a statesman bully and threaten a state government for allegedly not adhering to the constitution in matters that are strictly within the prerogative of the state government? How can a man portraying himself to be a “peacemaker” endorse gross human right abuse against some of the most deprived people of the country under the guise of “military action”? How can a man portraying himself to be peacemaker preside over a government that encourages extra-judicial killings to silence public dissent?

To President Yar’Adua, I will bluntly put it that you are not a “statesman”. Whilst you might have portrayed yourself to be one in Ghana, we Nigerians can tell the Ghanaians that it’s all fa├žade. Your government is grossly enmeshed in corruption and human right abuses. Your leadership thrives on hypocrisy. As a President, you have never practiced who you preach. Every time and again, you tell us about your respect for “rule of law”, but your action and demeanor has indicated otherwise. I’m still looking for an action taken by your government in the interest of public good. In fact your government is currently struggling to overtake its predecessor’s record on human right abuses. Your government has killed in the North, maimed in the Niger Delta and we are all waiting to see where the Joint Task Force and Operation Flush 11 will next be deployed.

It might be better for you to first remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's.

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