President Yar'Adua's Constitution

When President Yar'Adua took over leadership of Nigeria, he vowed to abide with the integrity of the nation's Constitution. Wow, with the man's level of education, every Nigerian felt that the nation needed someone like him because his educational background has groomed him to the extent that his experience/knowledge would pilot the country to recognition among the comity of nations. Keep in mind that the nation had passed through people who ruled for decades through the barrels of assorted guns. Thus, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when a former University teacher received the baton of leadership. As such, nobody ever thought that President Yar'Adua would renege on his Constitutional promises. The President broke the rule when he abused the Constitution by not handing over to his deputy when he certainly knew he was going for a long time for medical treatment, as specified by the Constitution. And of course, he went scot-free with that terrible offense that almost tore the country apart due to lack of leadership for months. President Yar'Adua's free ride was because he had a wife like Turai, who headed the so called cabal that ensured Yar'Adua's presidency remained in-tact regardless of whether the man was visible to Nigerians or not.

Let no one be confused as to why President Yar'Adua did not sign the hand-over note. It was not because he was sick but because he deliberately decided to violate the Constitution. The reason for this act is not far-fetched. The documents (the Constitution) were seen by President Yar'Adua as his personal property with full support of his Northern oligarchy. If the president wanted to sign the hand-over note, he had all the time in this world to have done so. The Punch newspaper of April 15, 2010 quoted Cable Network News (CNN) in an interview with President Jonathan, "Yar'Adua travelled to Saudi-Arabia on November 23, 2009 for treatment of acute pericarditis. And the last time we (Yar'Adua & I) really had sustained discussion that was November 26, 2009." We can rightly deduce that Yar'Adua, had enough time to properly hand-over which he did not do. Thus, a man who could engage in sustained discussion was healthy enough to append his signature on a hand over note. Furthermore, this highly educated man knew the extent of his medical treatment, and so had no reason not to have signed the hand over note. We could proclaim that any relationship at the executive level can be personal, but the distrust that existed between President Yar'Adua and his deputy was too visible. This mistrust culminated into not handing over leadership and therefore kept the country in darkness for months.

It's okay that all these are now history, but the point right now is that Nigerians---the media, the activists, the labor unions, the larger masses, the executive, and the National Assembly (N/A) must ensure that the life's span of the current Constitution terminates this year. If it means amending just that aspect of the Constitution that relates to hand over note with one sentence so as to differentiate it from the present one, it would be worth it for two reasons: first, a Senior Advocate of Nigerian (SAN) would not capitalize on this fact (that a president violated it before and nothing happened, so why should his client be harassed) and use it as reference tomorrow in court of law in order to make another president remain in power after he/she violates the Constitution. Secondly, it's very easy for Nigeria's judicial bench to dance on the side of evil by upholding the argument stated above. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to prevent similar occurrence which will continue to draw back the country. There is no sentiment in the eyes of law, though a trial Judge could apply sentiments in the reward or punishment relating to the law. However, in whatever direction the abuse on the Constitution is discussed, the National Assembly is responsible for the compliance and immediate action to redeem the Constitution.

It's a disgrace to those at the hierarchy of both chambers of the National Assembly for accommodating a severe bruise on the nation's Constitution. It didn't bother members of the NA one bit when Nigerians across the globe were demonstrating for non-leadership in Nigeria for months. Don't be surprise that if all of them in both chambers were interviewed individually, some of them would have said that President Yar'Adua had been sworn in for 8 years as President and Commander-in Chief, and therefore the status quo can not be changed. Their ignorance and lack of knowledge/ideas are reflected in their actions. In this jet age, people who claim to be lawmakers of a country recently exchanged blows under a camera because the division of looted national treasury is not equal among them.

The other observation out of this democratic turbulence is the issue of Mrs Turai Yar'Adua as head of the cabal that held Nigeria to a stand-still for months. Honestly, it's amazing that people from Northern Nigeria will tell the world during census that the voice of their women are not heard nor are they even seen. Thus, the men step forward to give census officials any figure they deem fit as members of their household. But when it comes to perpetuating dubious acts, a woman like Turai, can spare-head the cabal that has dozens of men as its members. It's up to census officials & Southern Nigerians to vehemently reject this Northern rubbish in future census manipulations. Henceforth, the women must stand out to be counted as people are counted in Southern part of Nigeria and in all other parts of the world.

Indeed, it will be a shocker to anyone if Mrs Turai Yar'Adua is not in any way connected with the looting of security vote when President Yar'Adua was away in Saudi-Arabia. Well, Nigerians are still waiting to know the outcome of the investigation instigated by President Jonathan on assumption of office. The newspapers had hinted Nigerians before now that no sooner had President Yar'Adua, left the country for Saudi-Arabia than a group of people (the cabal) looted huge sums of money kept for security vote.

The Constitution is a manual that governs a group of people. It's not a document that should be treated with levity because it's law by itself, neither is it a document that should be taken personal. No one individual owns the Constitution; as such, should never be made personal in anyone's household, and couldn't have been President Yar'Adua's Constitution.

Tosan Okotie