Thursday, March 4, 2010

Political Symbiosis of President Umaru Yar'Adua's Illness

I started writing this piece sometime last week, but abandoned it half way. My view was that the political impasse may take a different dimension following Wednesday’s Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) meeting,

With the changing political landscape, there’s always the risk of your post/article been obsolete even before you press the ‘save’ button on your computer keyboard. However, the events of the last 48hrs reinforced my thinking.

The huge expectation that Cabinet Ministers and the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan will go for the “kill” at Wednesday’s EXCOF meeting did not come as a surprise. Following the international support the Acting President has garnered over the last few days, many expected him to consolidate his hold on power and move the nation forward. It was clear that the only way he could do this would have been seek the support the EXCOF members in declaring Pres. Yar’Adua incapacitated and thus, invoke s144 of the Constitution.

Prior to the EXCOF meeting, we heard the comments of the Gov Bukola Saraki-led Governors Forum and Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, PDP Chairman. Whilst the Governors Forum concluded that ‘impeachment’ of Pres. Yar’Adua is not an option, the PDP Chairman stated categorically that the Acting President should forget about nursing any ‘presidential’ ambition in 2011, as the presidential ticket has been conceded to the North, to maintain PDP’s power rotation agreement!

So, reading between the lines, any “proposal or memo” (if it exists) calling for the declaration of President Yar’Adua as incapacitated was “dead on arrival”. In fact there was no incentive for the Acting President or any member of the Cabinet to raise the issue. Let’s not forget, most of the Ministers were nominated by their State governors. So we can only expect that they tow the line of their benefactor, by remaining loyal to President Yar’Adua and burying their heads in the sand.

The sudden return of the President Yar’Adua, like a contraband item, was a clear demonstration of the cabal’s intent to hold to power by all means. And by noting “cabal”, I’m not just referring to President Yar’Adua’s “kitchen cabinet”.

So what is a cabal? a “cabal” is a number of people greater than two together in some close design, usually to promote their private views and interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. (Wikipedia)

In the current political climate, the word “cabal” has somewhat become synonymous with the first lady Turai, former AGF Aondoakaa, Sayyad Ruma, Tanimu Yakubu and other Pro-Yar’Adua members in the federal cabinet. But the fact is, the cabal steering the ship of the nation extends beyond the Pres. Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet and his loyal wife Hajia Turai..

What we are currently witnessing is a grand conspiracy between three key groups.,. Although these groups have different personal interests (money, power etc), they are working in unison to achieve a common objective.

The common objective shared by these groups, encourages a symbiotic relationship that only helps further their selfish interests. It’s clear that none of these groups can work in isolation. They both need one another to stay on top of the current political game. These groups are the “kitchen cabinet”, with Turai Yar’Adua as its matron, the “People’s Democratic Party (PDP)” and the “Northern elites”. Interestingly, there are few members whose share the same interests with more than group.

Their actions could be described as three Captains on the same ship, with different sailing skills but aiming for the same destination. The argument that that you cannot have more than one Captain on a ship does not hold in this instance.

These Captains all have a stake in this “sinking” ship (albeit self), and it’s in their interest to work collectively to save the ship from sinking. So the least they can do is to offer their different skills set and talents to save the ship from sinking. There is no ambiguity in their mandate. It is crystal clear – save the ship from sinking and sail it to its final destination..

Now back to the Nigerian political cabal, the common objective of the three power groups is to make sure that Umaru Yar’Adua remains in power until at least 2011. It doesn’t matter how this is achieved, even if it means locking him up in a mobile ambulance or being plugged to a life support machine. As a result of their desperation, they have effectively turned the gravely sick President. Umaru Yar’Adua into a “collateral”.

So what are the interests of these power groups?

As for the Hajia Turai and her cohorts in the kitchen cabinet, their personal interest is just to use the mandate of Umaru Yar’Adua to amass personal wealth. These are people that have been shot into fame by virtue of been close friends of Umaru Yar’Adua. As they have nothing to lose, they might as well exploit the political impasse for as long as they can. After which they can all retire to their farms in Katsina and Kano.

As for the PDP, it’s in the interest of the party to maintain some form of stability before the 2011 elections. With 2011 elections around the corner, the last thing the ruling party wants is a division at the national level. So for now, the centre must hold.. And it’s for this simple reason that the PDP Chairman Vincent Ogbulafor has come out openly to foreclose any chance of Goodluck Jonathan seeking nomination in 2011.

The Northern elites are also keen to make sure that “unconstitutional” power rotation agreement is maintained. Already some of these elites are feeling shortchanged by the decision of former President. Obasanjo to impose an ailing president on them. So they will do anything it takes to sustain their grip on power.

A Goodluck Jonathan presidency is more than likely to disrupt the current power rotation agreement. And again, how can the northern elites be sure that Goodluck Jonathan will not seek to contest the presidential elections in 2011 if he’s appointed “substantive” President. With executive power at his disposal, he can never be trusted. With the “absolute” power enjoyed by the Nigerian president I for one will not hold my breath.

The uneventful outcome of Wednesday’s EXCOF meeting lends credence to the symbiotic relationship between these power groups. These power groups have successfully scuttled any plan to change the status quo. And as along as the Acting President carries on with his mandate of being a ‘social prefect’, we can expect more presidential instructions from the mobile ambulance.

The question now is, for how long we will continue to fold our hands and allow this dangerous symbiotic relationship to flourish among the cabals? Our destiny is now decided by a handful of political jobbers sitting in a beer parlour. They have continued to subvert democratic principles through unconstitutional zoning system.

Without any doubt, the Nigerian masses are the biggest losers of this conspiracy. This conspiracy also portends doom for 2011. We need to remember that the man at the centre of the machinations, Goodluck Jonathan still remains part and parcel of the ruling party. Whether he likes it or not, he has an obligation to make sure the ruling perpetuates itself in power. It’s therefore bad news for my friends clamouring for electoral reforms, anti-corruption etc. As long as Goodluck Jonathan remains under the tutelage of Vincent Ogbulafor and co, nothing ‘good’ can come out of his leadership.

From all indication, it seems we are stuck with the contraband presidency until 2011. Anyway God dey sha!.

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