November 19, 2009 gave birth to what would soon become probably the last and the longest part of a disgraceful soap opera of conspiracy, official deceit and moral assault to a collective psyche of a great Nation.
No doubt, this current unbecoming performance is the worst ongoing episodic drama of any constitutional government anywhere in the world, turning Nigeria into a laughing stock among the nations of the world.
Now, no parody is complete without poking jokes to mock Africa's most populous nation on the mysterious disappearance of her Commander-In-Chief. Umarugate (disappearing president) and Umargate (panty bomber) combine to be the worst embarrassment the nation has faced in recent time.
Final Act Scene1 ÔÇô The battle of the titan
November 19, 2009: The whole play started on this day with a ridiculous make believe row between the Senate and the House of Representative over the venue of the sitting of the joint Houses for the president's presentation of 2010 budget. The upper and the lower Houses were alleged to be engaged in a superiority battle only for a future government statement to prove the fact that many of us already knew. The issue had to do with the president's health and his inability to present the budget.
The president's parliamentary adviser, Mohammed Abba Aji, informed the nation on the day saying "the purpose of today's press briefing is to inform you that our scheduled presentation of the 2010 budget before a Joint Session of the National Assembly will not hold as scheduled; it will now hold at a later date. We respect the separation of powers and you all know that there is a little housekeeping left to be concluded at the National Assembly. So, we are allowing them time to put their house together."
Final Act Scene 2: Saudi Trip
23 November, 2009: In a typical Aso Rock fashion and with a statement signed by the President's Special Adviser on Media and Communications Olusegun Adeniyi saying "President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua will leave Abuja today for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While there, the President will call on his personal physicians in Jeddah for follow-up medical checks."
This announcement didn't come as a surprise to many of us who are already accustomed to the official jokes coming from Aso rock after reeling from the last scene of the penultimate act.
Unofficial information from the villa had it that the president was flown unconscious to Saudi and this could not be reconciled with a voluntary visit the government claimed.
52 days on since the announcement, with many unfolding events, everyone including the president handlers, knows that the official reason given for the president's trip is at best a national deceit and at worst a catastrophic calamity.
In the last scene of the penultimate act, barely a month after the president returned from an extended ÔÇślesser hajj' that caused him to cancel a state visit to Brazil, and in a usual Aso Rock way, on 22 September 2009 Olusegun Adeniyi told the whole nation that "President Yar'adua will be visiting Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud to undertake a working visit from today. The president is scheduled to hold talks with King Abdullah in the course of the visit and participate as a Special Guest of Honour at the opening of the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The President will also meet with the leadership and members of the Nigerian Community in Saudi Arabia before returning home on Saturday."
This shameful statement came in the week when about 150 progressive world leaders would be attending the annual UN General Assembly in New York and while our Universities were on one of the longest strikes ever that lasted 111 days. This ÔÇśofficial tale' achieved all but not what the actors untactically intended. It turned out to be an advertisement of official ignorance and lack of respect for protocols.
Apparently, they can only fool some people sometimes but they cannot fool all the people all the time.
Final Act Scene 3: Acute Pericarditis
26 November, 2009: Under intense pressure, Aso rock admitted partially for the first time that the president's trip to Saudi Arabia 4 days earlier was involuntary but was necessitated by his health demand.
Segun Adeniyi told BBC that "Mr Yar'Adua has acute pericarditis, or inflammation of the lining around the heart. At about 3pm Friday November 20, after he returned from the Abuja Central Mosque where he performed Muslim prayer, President Yar'Adua complained of a left-sided severe chest pain"
Friday November 20, was just a day after which he was to supposed to deliver the budget to the joint sitting of the National Assembly in which case the a row between the Houses was faked.
Final Act Scene 4: ÔÇśOluwole' Signature
28 December, 2009: The Principal Secretary to the President, Mr. David Edevbie went to Saudi Arabia to get a fake (oluwole) signature appended on N315 billion Supplementary budget bill and other documents requiring president's signature.
At the time of the signing there was neither an evidence of life nor a proof of death of the president. In his confession, the Assistant admitted he did not see the president rather he gave the documents to his Aide-de-camp who returned them after 2 hours signed with the official seals.
The signature is widely acclaimed to be nothing but fake by those close to the presidency.
This is the lowest point any constituted authority can go out of desperation of one man in keeping power even to the grave. We are not a hereditary Monarchy. Oluwole signature on oluwole budget by oluwole government is nothing but absurd.
Final Act Scene 5: The swearing-in of Justice Katsina-Alu as the Chief Justice of Ngeria and Justice Isa Ayo Salami as the President of the Court of Appeal
30 December, 2009: In a very controversial manner, the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi was conscripted by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa to swear in his successor a day before he retired from the judicial service, a role that is hitherto reserved for the president.
This act has caused a deep division among the legal experts regarding its constitutionality and procedural appropriateness.
Final Act Scene 6: President death announced
11 January 2010: Following weeks of official silence, speculation, rumours, anxiety and confusion, American Chronicle, an online magazine reported that the "Nigerian President, His Excellency Umaru Yar`adua is dead according to authoritative sources at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre".
The report was later deleted from the site without any reason even though the author, Mr. Hodderway Books claimed his story was authentic.
Another US based online publication http://www.usafricanpointblanknews.com still maintains this to be true.
234next.com, a Nigeria newspaper had claimed some days earlier that the president is brain damaged and he is unable to recognise anyone including the wife, Turai. The newspaper still stand by the story.
Many other publications citing reliable sources claimed that the President is on a life support machine.
Naturally, since nature does not support vacuum, in the absence of any genuine official briefings on the president's state of health, news from alternative sources whether true or false will saturate the air.
Final Act Scene 6: President grants interview to BBC
12 January 2010: In a telephone interview that is not verifiable, a sickly male voice of somebody who claimed to be the president of Nigeria spoke to BBC in both Hausa and English in a conversation that has left more questions than answers.
Below is the transcript of the interview conducted by one Mansur Liman of the BBC Hausa service:
The President said: "My brothers in Nigeria, I want to inform you that I am getting better insha-Allahu.
"By the grace of God, any time my doctors discharge me, I will come back home to Nigeria to continue my work. I want to also thank all Nigerians for their prayers for me and for the nation. I want to wish our team, the Super Eagles, victory in the African Cup of Nations that is going on in Angola. Thank you."
BBC: Your Excellency, do you know when you will go back home, because Nigerians are worried about your condition. Do you know how long it will take you to go back home to continue with your work?
Yar'Adua: Insha-Allah, I am getting better. Anytime God heals me and I am strong, that is the time, insha-Allah, I will come back to Nigeria, anytime the doctors discharge me.
BBC: There are a lot of issues (in Nigeria ), have you spoken with the Vice President and is everything going on well as you expect?
Yar'Adua: I spoke with him; I have been speaking with him. Everything is going on well in accordance with the constitution of the country.
If the voice is truly that of the president which many people like me truthfully doubt, it is one thing to be alive and it is another to be well enough to function effectively as a president of a Nation of over 140 million in a critical time.
Mentally dead or not dead, brain dead or not dead, clinically dead or not dead and physically dead or not dead, one thing that is certain is that the everyone that is involved, one way or the other in this conspiracy and ignominious drama is morally dead with no iota of conscience and is condemnable to a moral grave.
Why should a few selfish people keep a whole nation to her knees? Why must the president clinch so hard to power when it is obvious he is not fit to function? Why does he feel so unsecured to hand over temporary to the man he chose as his running mate? What is the difference between the love power and the love of Nigera? Why does the ruling party, PDP fail to call the protagonists to order? Why does the legislative arm fail in its oversight function? Why is the Federal Executive Council shying away from constitutional role making a declaration on the health of the president? Why does everyone allow this degeneration? ÔÇŽÔÇŽÔÇŽ Why the endless assault on our constitution? And why all these at a time we are supposed to be rebranding our Nation?
The drama continues and we hope it will have a good end. Please watch out for part 2 starting with scene 7: Yar'Adua and the court cases!