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On a wrong footing

The resolution of the National Assembly could also be viewed from the premise that the constitution is more of a political document than it is…

The resolution of the National Assembly could also be viewed from the premise that the constitution is more of a political document than it is legal. Yes, it is the grundnorm and compilation of literature on what, what not, how and how not. While its interpretation is fundamentally legal, its application is mainly political.

The truth is that the nation was under severe stress a lot of which was created by the competing political forces of those who unnecessarily needed to hang on while at the same time keeping the nation in the dark on the realities of Mr President, and on the other hand, the new group that saw unlimited opportunities in the ascendency of the vice president to the exercise of executive authority.

Those who saw the opportunity to hoist the vice president to act were clever and played the game better than those who wanted otherwise. The reasons are many and obvious. They caught the fancy of the nation which has been kept in total darkness as to how the president is faring on his hospital bed; very poor political brinkmanship typical of power-hungry exuberance. The nation became restive and an imaginary vacuum was thus created.

On the other hand, the Jonathan group cashed in on the weaknesses and failures of the Yar’adua group by mounting serious campaign that needed no further convincing in view of the very poor manner the other group handled the issue. It could be said that the pro-Jonathan group was elevated by the day due to the inactivity of those who didn’t want an acting president to emerge but were unable to tell Nigerians even those sympathetic to their feelings as to what is truly the state of the president’s health.

The intrigues and politics I hope would serve as lessons to those in power and those that would be in the future. The reality is that the National Assembly was left with no option than to either wriggle out of that mess or subject the nation’s civil rule to greater risk of either military interregnum or even total breakdown of law and order.

The concern today is on the manner in which the acting president began his journey which we don’t know how long or how short it will be. I thought that anyone who finds himself in the position that Dr Goodluck Jonathan has for the last few months and especially in the last few days, the wise thing to do will be to try to consolidate his hold on power, appease the system and try to as much as possible douse the tension that was created by the protracted power tussle which culminated in his ascendency as the acting president.

I thought the right thing to do was to try to stabilise the polity first before engaging in any form of administrative reform that is anchored on satisfying certain pecuniary political interests. The minor cabinet reshuffle in my view was ill-advised and not in consonance with the exigencies of the moment.

It could be interpreted simply as the crux of the matter and reason why there was the power tussle between the now established blocks in the Federal Executive Council. This reminds me of Marxist view of the state as merely a committee of the bourgeoisie that shares the wealth of the society.

I don’t know Aondoakaa. I met him only once at a national television function. He has been very controversial, but in my view, that is obvious. The man chose not to be a bystander in a nation where everybody is cowed into submission even before the commencement of action. Nigerian elites out of their greed and laziness have lost pride and personality and are always afraid of even their shadows. A philosopher said that what is surprising is not that children are afraid of darkness, but that the greatest tragedy in life is that men are afraid of light.

I do not think that Aondoakaa is the problem. Nigerians are very sensational people and the moment the leadership falls prey, then the problem is aggravated because those who should bear the tusk of the society are themselves in deep confusion. We forget so easily and are not yet resolved on whether to live as a people or not. Everyone is to himself as the common saying goes and God is for us all.

One would imagine that as unpopular as the Yar’adua government is, what the new henchmen needed to do was not to begin to change portfolio for ministers. The pedestrian view that that is the only way the authority of the acting president could be asserted in my view says very little of those who hold the view as to the content and context of power and authority.

Does the acting president know so much to the extent that he is certain that the person he is acting for would eventually not return to the nation? If not, did the acting president seek the opinion of his boss, the substantive president on vacation, on this new development? If not, then it was a sheer display of political exuberance on the part of the acting president and those who around him.

For sure, if any of the two issues mentioned were not in play, the act of redeployment of ministers on the basis of loyalty to either the president or his vice will lead to strained relationships between the two when the president eventually returns to the country. In my view, the action was even if necessary not politically expedient and is a sign of the mess that the nation should thus continue to experience from its political leadership.

My thinking is that the acting president will pay more time and attention on addressing the very daunting tasks ahead of the nation. I know for sure that what we lacked since the coming of this government to power in May 2007 is the effective and healthy leadership to push national demands and aspirations in the direction of motion. This is attributable, of course, to the poor state of health of the president.

That is why the nation is in pains today. It is an Obasanjo contraption that is fast coming to pass. Unfortunately, those who see themselves as the conscience of the nation failed to address this disaster before it happened and now the nation and its people are the worse for it while the soaking political establishment is busy scrambling for access and control.

The acting president must be careful and responsive to real issues rather than poor politicking. I thought he told the nation on Tuesday that there was no winner and no vanquished. Why the sudden cabinet reshuffle? It was an unnecessary and wrong political step taken at this crucial threshold.

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