Since former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo (Retired) brought Umaru Yar’Adua to the national stage in 2007; Nigerians had become aware and tolerant of the fragile health and terminal illness of the new president. So when President Yar’Adua left Nigeria on September 23 last year to seek medical treatments in a Saudi Arabia hospital, it was no longer a strong occurrence. Ever since Yar’Adua assumed office as the president, in and out of the country (on health related issues) have become frequent phenomenon and familiar characteristic of his presidency.

Nonetheless, this time his protracted stay abroad (September 2009 to February 2010) incommunicado had evoked prevalent anxiety among frustrated Nigerians home and abroad which induced justifiable doubts in the president’s fitness and capability to lead. The disgraced former Attorney General of the federation and Minister for Justice Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, one of Yar’Adua’s avid supporters and stooges had earlier advised Nigerians to stay calm and exercise patience. He told Nigerians that after all when Yar’Adua was governor of Katsina state he had repeatedly been away for medical treatments and spent six consecutive months at a time abroad yet returned to lead, won a second term in office and subsequently won the presidential elections in 2007 despite skepticism about his health and criticisms from his opponents. But this was a hard sell Nigerian people will not subscribe to.

Nevertheless, Nigerian people hoped that the ailing president will be treated and return healthier and better than he left the country. But the people didn’t realize how protracted and private the procedures were going to be, or the embarrassing drama awaiting the country. And the prevailing leadership dilemma at Aso Rock has brought Nigerians to the long overdue but legitimate issue of the deep rooted socio-political and cultural problems that have eaten profoundly into our political culture.

Lack of vision, obsession with power, chronic craving for wealth/cupidity and power worshipping constitute the country’s leadership failure. With one thing on their minds - satisfaction of self, Nigerian so-called leaders lack personal convictions, vision and conscience, and worst till they do not care about making thing work the conventional way for the benefit of the communities and people they serve and represent. Thus, there is no common ground between the general population and the so-called political leaders or government, because they have no legitimate mandates from the people they claim to lead. The people in turn have no confidence or trust in the self-styled leaders. The archaic mentality and odd philosophy that a leader or symbol of authority is superior to all and so should dictate the destiny of the people remains a calamitous element of our political culture that will continue to rock our political structure as long as Nigerians continue to tolerate such absurd philosophy. The roles played by the likes of Mr. Aondoakaa and myriad others in the on-going leadership quagmire in the country are archetypal examples of acts of sycophancy and idiocy of our so-called leaders. True pragmatic leaders are visionaries, builders and contributors in making things happen and work as the people desire, and that is what the country needs, not conspirators ingrained in the habit of stifling, exploiting and repressing the general population for their selfish cravings.

Apparently, Yar’Adua knew that he was ill, too feeble and incapable to perform the functions of the office he occupies as president before he made the trip to Saudi Arabia last year. It should have been dawned on the president to act accordingly and immediately. At that point he should complied with the provision in the nation’s constitution that required him to officially inform or communicate with both houses of parliament to transfer power to the vice president in an acting capacity in order to avert the current mess. The President failed to do so and so had violated the nation’s constitution for refusing to comply with the law, unfortunately his failure has created the current leadership tussle.

After been kept incommunicado for more than three months, Yar’Adua has been finally parceled and smuggled into Nigeria in one of the most surreptitious operations in human history and said to be placed in intensive care unit somewhere in Aso Rock, Abuja. Incomprehensibly, even in Nigeria all efforts by Nigerians, government officials including his spokespersons to have a glimpse of the president are being flatly denied or circumvented. Still, not even the Acting President or any top government officials could see the president even in Abuja. According to reports, the president who left the country in a presidential jet for medical treatments abroad returned covertly on an ambulance air plane carrier, sturdily restrained to a stretcher with bunch of life support gadgets hanging around him. Evidently, this indicates that the president is in a worse condition than he left or not living.

The questions are what other empirical evidence do Nigerians need to understand and accept the simple fact that the man used to be their President; Mr. Umaru Yar’Adua is no more a living being or an able person to say the least? How long will it take Nigerians to realize the open hoax craftily staged from the dark room in Jeddah and now under our noses and in our eyes in Aso Rock? How long will it take Nigerians with all the endowed wealth of education (no doubts) to break away from the misleading philosophy that turn them into perpetual subservience and worshippers of self-acclaimed deities and awful leaders? People let us learn to respect authority, not to be intimidated by it or afraid of or worship those in authority or public office. This is an endemic moral and political weakness and challenge that had confronted our country in decades.

Apparently, Madam Turai Umaru Yar’Adua and the conspirators know something the rest of us do not know. Certainly she is not politically savvy and powerful enough and does not possess the intelligence or the political influence to constrict Nigerians under her veil. The issue of national leadership and governance is quite above her. Madam Turai may have implanted herself in the feeble president or become his consciences, or had built impenetrable firewalls and made him her private property. She may cultivate vehement desires to be a significant figure of authority; still I do not believe that the influences of the president’s spouse are strong enough to stir a national stalemate. She is no more than tactically, a convenient tool in a political conspiratorial power struggle manipulated by political obstructionists and disgruntled persons who desperately want to exploit the system or deny Nigerian people peaceful transition by all means, (should the will of Allah prevails).

These powerful cartels, affluent and devious Nigerians who are determinedly instigating the first lady to meddle in the country’s leadership for their selfish craving for power, control and domination should be reminded that she is merely a spouse of the president. Madam Turai therefore has no plebiscite from Nigerian peoples or constitutional right to do so.

Umaru Yar’Adua at this moment is no longer interested in power. Madam Turai should be contemplating on how to take care of her husband (whether still alive or ……) and prepare for befitting burial rites he deserves, if Allah so chooses, rather than meddling in national power politics. This is the only way she and the president’s family (Yar’Adua survivors) could get sympathy from Nigerians. Those conjuring and hiding the true condition of the president from the Nigerian public and stirring resentment and antipathies against the ailing president (who cannot speak for himself) are doing more harm and bringing more anguish to the Yar’Adua family.

Nigerian people have shown enough concern and prayed hard for the rapid recovery of the President. But, we must accept and respect the transition of power and support the Acting President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck both in deeds and word. A moral obligation and responsibility we must perform for our country.

TomBari McFini writes from Hartford, CT.

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