Nigeria: President Yar’adua’s Return Good For The Nation

8 March 2010

By Aonduna Tondu

Contrary to the shrill and knee-jerk remonstrations on the part of misguided elements, the return to the country by President Yar’Adua in the early hours of February 24, 2010 must be considered as a welcome development. Yar’Adua’s presence on Nigerian soil should re-assure an anxious citizenry that has been subjected to a largely contrived kind of hysteria by those with an axe to grind.

The decision to let Vice-President Jonathan continue to act on behalf of the president while the latter recuperates is a wise one. More than ever before, the loyalty and dedication of Goodluck Jonathan will be called upon to help offer the kind of leadership that is needed in addressing the myriad challenges facing the nation.

It goes without saying that stability is a critical ingredient in our collective quest for development. The ultimate symbol of Nigeria’s sovereignty and unity, the president should exude an aura of inclusiveness. Yar’Adua’s support for his junior partner will go a long way in instilling confidence in his administration while at the same time calming a polity that stood the risk of further polarization, what with the desperation on the part of key elements of the previous Obasanjo tyranny, including their principal, who had begun to mistake the acting presidency of Goodluck Jonathan for an opportunity to once again indulge their delusions of power.

The kind of divisive triumphalism that one witnessed amongst irredentists and revanchists alike in the immediate post-February 9, 2010 National Assembly resolutions declaring Jonathan acting president should have no place in our polity. President Yar’Adua and his grey eminence ought to emphasize this point if only to make sure that some of the gains of his government’s reforms in strategic areas like the banking sector are not sacrificed at the altar of expediency and questionable allegiances.

Beyond our national borders, Yar’Adua and his administration will continue to ensure that Nigeria’s national interests are defended even as our international obligations are discharged to the best of our ability. Irrespective of who occupies the highest office in the land and notwithstanding the state of the nation, both that office and its holder must be treated with utmost dignity, especially by foreign entities and their representatives. That is why Nigerian citizens view with disgust the undignified and insolent statement attributed to the Obama administration in its reaction to President Yar’Adua’s return home.

“Nigeria needs a strong, healthy, and effective leader..". "Recent reports, however, continue to suggest that President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's health remains fragile and that he may still be unable to fulfill the demands of his office"., barked an adjunct of the Obama government. He went on: "We hope that President Yar'Adua's return to Nigeria is not an effort by his senior advisors to upset Nigeria's stability and create renewed uncertainty in the democratic process. Nigeria is an extraordinarily important country to its friends and partners, and all of those in positions of responsibility should put the health of the president and the best interests of the country and people of Nigeria above personal ambition or gain”. What effrontery!

While claiming to show concern for the stability of the country, the deeply offensive outburst by an obviously badly mannered and uncouth subaltern known as John Carson does come across as a grotesque and undiplomatic intrusion in our national affairs - a vile assault on our collective sensibilities whose aim, it appears, is to sow disharmony within the Nigerian presidency, if not in the country as a whole. The Nigerian government, on behalf of the people, should call the Americans to order.

The problem with characters in the John Carson hue is that their unhealthy investment in certain individuals in locations like Africa tends to go beyond the call of duty and when they feel that the partisan interests of their local allies or proxies are threatened, they hide behind a sanctimonious, if hypocritical preachment. All the same, in this grave matter, the buck stops at Obama’s desk.

It is unconscionable that President Obama behaves in a polite, almost obsequious manner toward foreign dignitaries of European, Asian and Middle-East countries even as he characteristically employs unpolished, intemperate and condescending language in his rhetoric on Africa and Africans.

Finally, the Yar’Adua/Jonathan presidency has thrown up critical challenges for us all, one of which is the imperative to establish an efficient democratic system that will meet the aspirations of the average citizen. The organized opposition in particular can help do that, not by being obsessed with the PDP’s internecine squabbles to the point of taking sides as has been the case of late, but by arduously working to provide viable electoral alternatives.

Aonduna Tondu ( )



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