When Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo picked on Umaru Musa Yar'Adua as his successor in Aso Rock, he had a lot of ideas in mind and a clear vision as well, of what he wanted the little known and ailing Governor of provincial Katsina to achieve as President. Allowing a more qualified and competent personality from other geographical zone to succeed him in the Presidency in breach of tacit gentleman's agreement would be risking the unity of the country. The Sharia drive had once shown how far northerners would go to make their impact felt when they feel slighted and marginalized for once in the history of Nigeria.
Olusegun Obasanjo knew quite well that he was not only fulfilling a pledge of shifting geographical positions, he was keen on protecting Nigeria's hard-earned treasury resources from willful plunderers counting on the purity of a man with the reputation of religious devotion and honesty. Above all else, President Obasanjo sought protection against a mob-gone-wild that haunted him from the press, the judiciary and the legislature. This latter motivation it was that superseded all other considerations in such a way that the election of the Ex-President's man was a do-or-die affair. Events unfolding today have truly justified this sentiment as the chameleonic attitude of strategic glorification has now seen erstwhile friends of the Ex-President teaming up with his foes and launching futile wars against the President's image.
The extremely charged, poisonously hostile and volatile political atmosphere that characterized the dying days of the last administration was single-handedly responsible for the reality that no President in his right senses would have allowed for the free and fair election of his own successor. Political suicide I guess, was not on Olusegun Obasanjo's agenda.
If anything was lost on or underrated by President Obasanjo, it is definitely the extent of the bond of brotherhood shared by northern political stalwarts. While northerners by design continue to teach the Southerners day-by-day how not to go about the game of sectional bickering, southerners are loudest when it comes to summoning the guillotine to the national stadium to hack off the head of their few elites that were permitted by the Grace of "Allah" to mount the saddle of leadership. When northerners of substance disagree, it is done behind closed doors. The megaphone voices of discontent amongst northerners are most often, politically irrelevant in mapping out geographical strategies by consensus. Who speaks today of the renegade Muhammadu Buhari or Abubakar Rimi (notable megaphone dissenters) as northern powerbrokers?
The last administration left a vibrant economy with growth rates of continental envy thanks to export revenue. Foreign reserves were figured at unparalleled amounts. Projects were commenced and launched requiring follow-up efforts in continuative moves of managerial and constructive complementation.
Unfortunately however, the succeeding President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's most remarkable achievement till today, has been shielding his predecessor from the mob's guillotine often using precisely this same predecessor to play his strategic game of populist appeal in a two-steps-forward, one-step-backward ploy.
Today, Nigerians know that the war against corruption has drawn to a standstill because a northern rascal named Nuhu Ribadu dared to join forces with a declared enemy of the north who betrayed the trust of northern powerbrokers. It didn't matter if his cause was noble. He was sacrificed to the applause of narrow-minded and truly intellectually blinded mob of the present century. Occasionally, a power-drunk Minister of Justice would face the press and cough out a stench of ignorant vituperations often as a prelude to Presidential actions. When the dust settles down however, President Yar'Ado nothing will emerge from nowhere and declare: "Obasanjo is my leader" and withdraw for a while leaving the stage for rats to dance and wine!
The last administration tried its best to display a Federal character in the constitution of its leadership team. A Yoruba President was not surrounded by Yorubas. The closest personal confidant ÔÇô even though, a controversial suspect of fraud ÔÇô was an Easterner. Major players in key positions were geographically evenly distributed such that even indigenes of Edo state (Anenih, Obaseki) were allowed to feature prominently. Today, a President in the grip of northern interest is obsessed with the filling of strategic positions with northerners and northerners alone.
The last prominent politician that was judiciously brought to book to give account of criminal stewardship was Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State. Ever since, a lot has quickly died down on the corruption front. Wielding the enigmatic mantra of the rule of law, some hobby writers who may be forgiven for ignorance in the art of writing, come forward to advance the unfortunate thought-crime of the rule of law being more important than fighting unconventional causes with unconventional means.
Thank goodness, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) adopted the unconventional method of shooting known criminals and cultists at sight in Benin City to calm down the infamous crime wave that had been rocking that city in recent years. So much for the rule of law in a lawless society!
A President that is weird in all ramifications chooses to send an active public servant out of public view because he was pursuing a noble cause without close consultation with the President. Now the cause has been killed to pursue window-dressing projects like prosecuting Iyabo Obasanjo. A cause that goes down far better with the brainless mob of Causcescu's fame. With Ribadu not formally relieved of his position as Gani Fawehinmi has rightly pointed out, the President has appointed a replacement almost in circumvention of his megaphone ÔÇśdue process' policy until the senate blew the whistle on him.
But "for every bad move that this Johanna makes, they've got a good explanation" Eddy Grant once said in an Apartheid-related parody. They say it is a sinister ploy against the appointment of Waziri that the due process of removal (and not study leave for one year) of Nuhu Ribadu is demanded by Gani Fawehinmi before the appointment of Waziri can be pursued. The Spinmeisters are everywhere selling the blockbuster President as the best thing to ever happen to Nigeria. They not only foolishly, maliciously and dishonestly point out that Umaru Musa Yar'Adua inherited a rotten Nigeria from his predecessor, they conveniently ignore the state of Nigeria inherited by Olusegun Obasanjo, who left the same nation in a different state 20 years before.
Also willfully ignoring the state of the buoyant economy handed over to the present administration, they put a neophyte spin on facts to ignore the burgeoning volume of our balance of trade and balance of overall budget left behind by the past administration. The least uncontested contention is the state of power stations begging for follow-up investments and installation-hardware wasting away in our ports. Yet the Spinmeisters say one year is not enough to get a grasp of situation and define an independent course.
The next man on the line will definitely be Governor Soludo of the Central Bank. A brilliant technocrat, who together with Okonjo-Iweala authored Nigeria's economic success of the past eight years, Governor Soludo is obviously too independent-minded for a President, who will do nothing tangible but have his two hands on deck in every nook and corner.
One foolish hobby author with his brains at the peripheral end of his physique wonderfully opined that launching infrastructural projects by awarding the relevant contracts after twelve months of leadership was not the crust of the matter. Today, the nation is virtually in darkness with sections that have not seen electricity for the past one month. While the self-styled intellects are able to afford generators and diesel to match, contract award will not matter much as long as political power is kept with the north and the north alone.
Historical facts were revisited recently and colonial agenda uncovered, bordering on the fear of a more intellectual and enlightened south embracing communism as opposed to a more conservative, religious and less educated northern population. This notion and this notion alone it was that saw the British colonialists opting to manipulate processes in favor of empowering northerners into the political leadership of Nigeria, which the north now erroneously seem to perceive as a natural right of fortune.
Unfortunately however, the world has come a long way. Awareness and the means of spreading them are growing by the day. The volatility of public order engineered by discontent and elitist indifference has laid a fertile groundwork for an ultimate revolution of the downtrodden.
The hope for a public uprising died woefully in the aftermath of the flawed elections of April 2007 because the public did not wish to fight any war of attrition as surrogates of some selfish politicians. With an intellectually comprehensive social stratum making up a negligibly small fraction of overall popular strength, media hostility was not enough to steer public sentiment in one direction and unjustly against a single target.
With jobless surrogates of political criminals up in arms at the Niger Delta openly threatening the unity of Nigeria, and a misguided and disgruntled Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra brandishing weapons and the Biafran flag in broad daylight, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is still not able to see the writing on the wall and work towards national unity.
He is busy filling strategic positions with loyalists to the northern agenda. Infrastructure is declared a subordinate project in this agenda of priority and regional segregation is uplifted to the realms of urgency. With two regions however, accustomed to the routine use of weapons, in political dealings and the level of intellectual awareness growing by the day, Nigeria is sitting on a powder keg waiting to be blown.
When it finally blows however, there will be millions who have nothing to lose. Soldiers will be out shooting. Hundreds will die. Hundreds more will move ahead until soldiers are out of weapon, overwhelmed or wisely choose to turn on Aso Rock.
When this dreadful scenario becomes reality though, the north and the north alone shall bear the blame for focusing too much on solitary hegemony without the will to share for real. Umaru Musa Yar'Adua will have questions to answer for deliberate weakness and the propagation of an elusive mirage and erection of phantom castles.