Let me take this opportunity to heartily congratulate the Government and people of Nigeria for patiently wading through, perhaps, the most trying political crisis in recent times.
I also fully applaud the now-“acting” President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to thank the hitherto volatile Nigerian military for exhibiting civic responsibility of the highest caliber, as well as untainted “loyalty and devotion to duty during this trying period.”
We also recognize the practical wisdom for Dr. Jonathan to promptly demote the country’s Justice Minister, Michael Aondoakaa, who appeared to have put his patriotism on ice, literally speaking, by failing to act expeditiously to ensure that the ailing and hospitalized substantive premier, Mr Umaru Yar’Adua, would continue to regressively hold Africa’s most populous country in suspended animation. Mr. Aondoakaa is now Minister for Special Duties. What the latter needs actually is special training, and/or education, in order to progressively appreciate the inviolable supremacy of the august Nigerian federation vis-à-vis any individual’s or sectional interests.
Well, now that Dr. Jonathan has been inducted/invested as “acting” president of Nigeria, we expect that Senate Majority Leader David Mark will move quickly to have the former vice-president promptly confirmed as substantive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) and his deputy promptly named and invested. For, needless to say, it reeks of the patently bizarre for Dr. Jonathan to be transacting business and attending to other international protocols while still maintaining the inauspiciously tentative rank and title of “acting” president, particularly where his counterparts happen to be the substantive premiers of their respective polities. In short, full administrative credibility needs to be reposed in the new Nigerian chief-of-state.
As for the still-ailing Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua, who reportedly continues to receive treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital, we can only wish him a speedy recovery. But we must also point out that whatever the cause of his ailment, it is now patently clear that the former president’s utmost priority at this time is take good care of his health and general well-being. And on the latter score, of course, we have in mind that maxim which counsels thusly: “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.”
On a personal level, we hope that the former two-term governor of Katsina state recognizes the fact that relinquishing the presidency is not the end of the world, as it were; and that even if he fully regains the soundness of his health in the near future, he still could well make himself quite useful and productive as an elderly statesman and role-model for Nigerian youths.
But, perhaps, what is even more significant to revise, and thoroughly and effectively abrogate, is the bizarre political arrangement among shot-callers of Nigeria’s ruling party, whereby the presidency is made to alternate between the predominantly Hausa-Fulani Muslim north and the multiethnic and predominantly Christian and traditional African south. Under the preceding arrangement, when in power, the now-ruling party’s presidency is split between the North and the South, with the presidency proper and vice-presidency being respectively and vice-versa shared between the two geographical regions. The conveniently muted problem here, though, is that with Nigeria there is also an East and a West which are not discretely accounted for in the aforesaid arrangement.
Interestingly, the apparent reluctance of staunch backers of Mr. Yar’Adua to prevail on the latter to promptly relinquish the presidency, primarily stems from the logical fact that during the eight years before Mr. Yar’Adua assumed reins of governance, the latter’s southerner mentor, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd.), had occupied Aso Rock, the Abuja-located Nigerian presidential palace.
The difference here, though, is that while the now-72-year-old Mr. Obasanjo remains pretty much hale and hearty, as the cliché goes, the 58-year-old Mr. Yar’Adua, a widely known chain-smoker with a kidney condition, is not nearly half as physically sound. And so what has been transpiring since the end of last November, when Mr. Yar’Adua took an unofficial leave of absence to seek medical treatment in a Saudi hospital, is a desperate attempt by largely ardent believers in the faux-dialectical ideology of geographical alternation of the presidency to stall a heretofore unforeseen circumstance.
Of course, deeply embedded underneath the tentative ideology of presidential alternation is the implicit alternation of regionally based patronage. And it is for the preceding reasons why one unreservedly concurs with Prof. Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Literature Laureate, that this flagrantly self-serving political arrangement ought to be summarily abrogated in order ensure the organic cultivation and nurturance of true democracy.
Source: *Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), t
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