A very ominous sign hangs over the badly battered country called Nigeria presently and all flow from the present deteriorating state of health of President Yar'Adua. Apart from the palpable confusion that presently envelope governance, one would be damned to deny that the power mongers and the speculators that live off government are making their nocturnal shrifts to take advantage of what is obviously a lacuna that is now so obvious in the nation's seat of power. Even with the thick patch of pan cake being spruced on what is a delicate situation, most Nigerians know that the country is dangling on the precipice, shorn of a leader and bereft of any sense of mission.
For whoever can bet on it, the dangers ahead are so real and much more complicated than they have been made to look. It goes far beyond the self serving permutations of a notorious political party for untrammeled and infinite power. It goes beyond the craving of a hideous cabal for the traps of office. It goes beyond the mad and deadly struggle to take advantage of the huge lacuna that has prevailed in the country's seat of power since Yar'Adua was forced down on us all by the grand principality himself.
What is very certain to happen is that in the near future, something is going to give and this flows from the risky political cobweb that birthed the Yar'Adua presidency? The looming danger may hasten the doomsday prophecy about Nigeria's possible implosion into chips of disparate ethnic nations in the near future. The certain fate that hangs over this unfortunate country obtains in the gravy aftermaths of having an infirm president. The early warning signals obtain in the present rancor and deep division over whether Yar'Adua should resign or continue ‘ruling' Nigeria from the sick beds of foreign hospices. It obtains in the intra-class intercalation that debate has spawned such that huge questions are being raised over some peoples' consistency in the struggle so early in the day; when the real battle is yet to begin.
A sneak preview of the fiery war that awaits us in the aftermath of Yar'Adua's complicated health state is the internecine power struggle that has started and which threatens to blow into a full fledged war should the president cease to function in power. Even if he survives the present state of uncertainty, he and his men would always be looking over their shoulders to see who is pilling pressures on them to quit and make chance. Whichever way one looks at it, Nigeria has a huge case in its hands and if not well handled, it is tail spinning into a huge conflagration that may consume the country eventually.
We ignore the ethnic and sectarian flipsides of the present health crisis of the president to our peril! The embers of ethnicism and tribalism have been awakened by the latest development on Yar'Adua's health. With the prospect that either willingly or unwillingly, this president may not effectively continue in office, the various sections of the country have dusted their power codes and have proffered divergent alternatives to choose from should we eventually reach the dreaded moment. Both legal and extra-legal options have been fangled to place each tribe, tongue, religion and section at advantage with the impending reality that somehow, the president may be forced by ill-health or a stronger fate, not to complete his tenure. That is why the South, especially the Niger Delta are belching fire on the alleged subterranean moves to force out the lame duck Vice President so as to pave way for the emergence of a northern successor for Yar'Adua.
It is for the above reason too that the North is invoking a queer and strange power rotation agreement as a superior document to the country's laws, in choosing a successor for Yar'Adua. It is for this reason that the air is heavily pregnant with fears, apprehensions, suspicion and mortal guesses of what happens after the present uncertainty clears, either by Yar'Adua getting off his sick bed, hale and hearty or continuing stuttering his sickly way through power or even answering the mortal call while sitting pretty over our affairs.
In an article ‘Yar'Adua's Health Crisis and Options Before Nigerians', which I wrote when the President suffered one of his numerous seizures last year, I had made this point poignantly clear, "the main issue emanating from the national crisis occasioned by Yar A'dua's recent health crisis is that the country, must as of compulsion, discuss the possible alternatives open to the country should Yar A'dua drop dead or prove undoubtedly incapable of continuing as the country's president, as the specters of his recent sojourn portend. It is such crisis as the one we are presently passing through that made those that drafted the dysfunctional constitution we have in place now to make a provision for the replacement of a president that is incapacitated, either as a result of ill-heath or any other indisposition that may interfere in the discharge of his duties as president".
In the same article, I had also observed that, ‘with the increasing deterioration of the health of Yar A'dua and the negative effects this exerts on governance in Nigeria, there is every ground for Nigerians to start now to talk about a future without Yar A'dua or better still, a Nigeria where a president dies in office or is knocked off by mental and bodily limitations. There is every reason to avert a void that may ensue should Yar A'dua continue in the present state he is going. Already, I think the condition envisaged by the lawgivers to seek a replacement in leadership has been met presently when our president struggles to keep long appointments with his doctors outside the shores of the country. As was shown in the recent experience, when governance was suspended in a confusing maze created by Aso Rock based minders who are on a game to preserve the source of their privileges, this country needs an Option B to ensure it does not blow up on our collective faces. Because this is not a normal country, the scenario that may occur if and when Yar A'dua drops off the scene is as unclear as the right way the country needs to chart for progress. No one can actually say what will happen today should Yar' Adua cave in to his flailing health. What should have happened is that the Vice President will step into his shoes. But the pitiable fate of the present Vice President who has been reduced to a newspaper reader in Aso Rock informs that it may not be as simple as stated in the dormant law books of the country'.
The advice was not taken and here we are, one year after and with Yar'Adua once again quarantined in a Saudi hospital, bland on what to do as we had always been. There is an obvious lack of leadership because the Vice President is so powerless to take charge. There is probable air of cluelessness pervading the country, in the absence of even a titular driver. This scenario is frightening and should it continue, Nigerians should expect something very nasty in the days ahead, which is why we all must fear. The greatest fear is that as it is now, the initiative has been taken out of the political nabobs and mandarins who have presided over the continuous ruination of the nation. Several more dangerous, hard-to-control forces are lurking at the corners and this makes the roiling chair Nigeria is sitting on now, much more precarious than we can even admit.
What is at play now is a very inchoate field of different players and hardly agreeing missions. The scenery is scrambled and different players ply their game, in the absence of a unitive force and this provides a dangerous field to play. Slowly, and steadily, Nigerians are living to the reality that the bad health of the man forced on them as their president may provide the needed tinder box that may ignite the predicted schism among the disparate tendencies that make up this inchoate and badly raided country.
Peter Claver Oparah.