Friday, January 22, 2010

Naija in search of their Offshore President

Speak to any Nigerian anywhere in the world and the first thing on his mind is the whereabouts of his president, Umaru Musa Yar’Dua. He is missing, that is the likely response one may get. He is off in Saudi Arabia recuperating from a heart related sickness, creating a vacuum in the seat of presidency in Abuja.

‘Our president is missing and anybody who chances upon him should bring him to us in one piece,’ reads a recent placards as demonstrators took to the streets to express their anger about his absence. ‘We are tired of this offshore president,’ yells another protestor.

Naija people are pissed especially for the many excuses coming from the seat of government. ‘Is this sick man still alive,’ is one of many questions Nigerians are asking.

"Enough of the offshore president and a people's constitution now" says a protestors last Thursday.

Then from nowhere, the BBC pulled a fast one by interviewing the ailing president. He spoke in both English and Hausa to his people. His voice sounded very weak, ugly and pale. The president is indeed not healthy.

Rather than end speculation about rumours making rounds that the president is dead, the interview fuelled the existing speculation. ‘It’s not him,’ some people said. The claim is that the voice has been tempered with.

‘Let’s go with our own video camera and record him,’ some activists have suggested. There are constitutional implications to his absence as the vice president, Jonathan Goodluck, can’t sign any bill because he has not been given the directive. He has no power to act in that respect!

Analysts fear of an impending constitutional crisis that might motivate irritant within the military to take up arms-Naija people are averse to military rule but are still not ruling out the possibility of such. After all the same characters at the top motivate those soldiers to seize power so they can get whatever that they want.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who endorsed Umaru’s presidency, is even tired of his absence and had called on him to resign. He said there was "a path of honour and morality" for an office-holder unable to deliver because of his health.

He denied that he had been irresponsible when choosing his successor, AFP news agency reports.

"To say that I, Olusegun Obasanjo, deliberately picked somebody who is an invalid, is the height of insult," he said.

In 2007, he put Mr Yar'Adua, who was known to suffer from a kidney complaint, forward as the ruling People's Democratic Party's presidential candidate when his own attempts to run for a third term floundered.

However, Obasanjo believes the time has come for his hand picked president to step down and put his mind into resolving his health issues.

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