Gumption, Gutlessness, Good-luck and Jonathan

Nothing shatters hope more than a worthless icon of hope.

Yesterday, 3rd of March 2010, would perhaps go down in memory as the day Nigeria was condemned as a nation. Condemned, not by the nefarious acts of armed robbers, thieving policemen or scam mongers; but condemned by the perfidy of the people who – by design, choice or fraud – happen to be the rulers of the country.

Leadership is always not about taking pleasant decisions, neither is it about taking easy decisions. Even amoral leaders recognise the need to take decisions which may not be pleasant, but which are necessary for the survival of the group being led. In a country like Nigeria where a gangrenous rot has bedevilled the country for the past five decades, the importance of strong leadership cannot be over-emphasised.

It is pointless recounting the events of the past 100 days where a faceless, shadowy group led by a poorly educated and barely enlightened housewife and the chief “maiguard” of the president, has held a nation of 140-odd million people and its president hostage. So amorphous is this “group” that the only name attributed to it in the mainstream press is “the Cabal”.

From rather early on in this macabre soap opera, it has been clear to the man on the streets and to every intelligent and objective observer that the best course of action – (in the interest of the nation and in the long-term self-preservation interests of the civilian political class) would have been to compel the President to resign his post or impeach him. The impeachment of a president is not a pleasant task, particularly one that is ill, but to paraphrase Dr. Condoleeza Rice, the immediate past Secretary of State for the United States, the Presidency is more important than the president. In light of the embarrassment that the nation and its citizens have been subjected to, the time has been long due to sacrifice the blush of an ailing president for the progress of the nation.

Yet, the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) pussy-footed whilst a man, who in my opinion is the most uncouth individual to ever grace the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, used every means he could lay his hand on to undermine the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as come up with some of the most repugnant interpretations to the constitution of Nigeria. The quantum of cowardice in the “un-hallowed” chambers of the EXCOF can be gauged by the fact that none of the members of the EXCOF – including the Yar’Adua / Turai protagonists – had spoken to the president since his hurried evacuation from Nigeria in November 2009.

For the Legislative arms, I find it utterly shameful that whilst the axe of impeachment was wielded over former President Obasanjo’s head repeatedly for less damaging actions, the absence of the president alongside the loquacious and repulsive utterances of the previous AGF could not spur the Representatives or Senators to take a decisive step to halt the downward spiral of the ship of state. Instead there was a steroid-fuelled urge to pass a supplementary bill, which was spuriously signed from near the Great Beyond by an ailing President, whose last conscious memory was perhaps being sedated for a flight out of Nigeria.

One perhaps ought to be thankful for the confluence of events which led to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan being declared the Acting President and the subsequent hurried re-importation of an unconscious Umar Yar’Adua back to Nigeria, ostensibly to checkmate the supposedly growing influence of Dr. Jonathan. Since then, I have had to question if indeed there was any reason to be thankful in the first instance. Yar’Adua’s body’s return (I use this term quite deliberately, because no elected official or accredited journalist has seen the president) has turned to be an albatross for the Cabal, but for the same reasons of gaping gutlessness, the Senate has not had the inclination to summon any of the known faces of the Cabal to provide visual evidence of Yar’Adua’s presence in Nigeria or his state of health.

In one of the most reprehensible acts of nation destruction, the House of Representatives, led by a man I consider to be the biggest generational reprobate of them all, called for the resignation of Dr. Dora Akunyili, the Minister of Information and Communication. For all of this woman’s faults as being part of the EXCOF that hoodwinked the nation for more than 2 months, selling us dummies about Yar’Adua’s well-being, she has for the past 30 days or more been screaming at the top of her voice for the EXCOF to do what is moral and curtail the influence of this shadowy cabal by declaring the President incapacitated. One may fault her actions along so many lines, but it is hard to dispute that she is perhaps the only redeeming quality in a putrid government as we have it today. The call by the House of Reps is one that is as baffling as it is disgusting.

I would not want to dwell on the 30-odd demons in human form who govern the various states and their own call for Dr. Akunyili’s head for “over-heating the polity”. These are, in my opinion, spastic individuals who have not proved capable of governing their respective states intelligently. From their spokesman who made a fool of himself on a CNN program whilst displaying the “grandeur” of the Bayelsa state government house to the governor of the President’s state of origin, I can safely say none has displayed leadership qualities worthy of mention.

The biggest damp squib of them all, perhaps is Dr. Jonathan himself. When power devolves to you by accident, one of the first things that ought to be done is consolidate your hold on power. Do this, or else those displaced from power, or those with a stronger sense of entitlement will come back and stab you in the back – and I mean that physically. In one fell swoop, he has had the opportunity to wrest control from this spectre called the Cabal, as well as ingratiate himself (rightly or wrongly) into the thirsty memory of Nigerians as the one who finally broke the hold of a faceless, but rapacious lot on the throats of the citizenry. Yet, by not forcing a vote for incapacitation of the president yesterday, he has gone into the midst of his enemies blindfolded and handed daggers to them, whilst he walks ahead of them, believing he is leading them.

Over the past 100 days, crimes have been committed against the nation and its citizens, from David Edevbie’s flight to Jeddah to sign a supplementary budget to the deployment of troops to the International Airport in Abuja without the C-in-C’s knowledge, as well as the deducible, if not provable emptying of the nation’s coffers. These offences are screaming to be acknowledged; they are shouting to be judged.

One thing I know for sure – there is time for retribution ahead; either from the Cabal or from the restive denizens of the country.

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