It was the former President Obasanjo who said all those who invested in him should consider their investment lost in 1999. Since the new President Yar’Adua is a man of political action not words, we may never hear anything so volatile. The reality check is in his kitchen cabinet and those invited from his Party hierarchy. Even these may not be enough until about six months to a year when he has got a bit comfortable in his chair.
President Yar'Adua will eventually reveal who has more influence on him as advisers and counselors than the others. We are not the only ones waiting, there are king makers watching him like vultures to see if he is a good student of history or not. Most Nigerians know who the king makers are, in case you just became a Nigerian yesterday without proper civic lessons, learn.
I crave your indulgence to use a new one I had coined, apart from the familiar ones; they are the young, educated, devoted progressives from the North who are in concerted tandem spirit with equally progressives from the South. Indeed, they argued for the emergence of Yar'Adua as a "clean" slate or the least of all the evils.
There are of course the Kaduna Mafias who are not as effective as they used to be. But we can not count them out. They are still influential among the progressives all over Nigeria and their dedication to the unity of Nigeria is matched by their zeal for the proletariats overcoming the past position they were classed into.
Not to be outdone is the Babangida/Abubakar/Danjuma sector from the North-central. They claimed control of the Army until Abacha demystified them. If anyone thinks they are so strong and powerful, they had demonstrated to Abacha that they knew when to bow and follow follow. But Abacha is gone and they have since regrouped. They are fiercely loyal to the North and claim to be more Fulani than the Hausa/Fulani themselves.
Who can forget our latest king maker by the name of Obasanjo, the Baba Iyabo of Egbaland and the Emperor of Africa worldly famous for exporting peace badly needed at home with little respect amongst the Yoruba. In order to outdo the Babangida/Danjuma axis, he has in good faith placed some strategic positions in the hands of his loyalist in the Army so that Yar'Adua Government will not be disturbed. We will soon know if that can stand the test of gravity and not fall apart.
Of course I have not overlooked the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. Unlike the well tamed Yoruba/Igbo oligarchy, they are still conservative and formidable. Babangida/Danjuma axis who cancelled Abiola's election and Ironsi reign in their names are going back to work on them. In essence, let them know that their progressive sons and daughters have sold out to the South, big time. It is them, from North-central axis that can preserve their interest more than their own children. Who knows, it may still work.
So which way Yar'Adua?
It seems that Nigerian leaders do not learn once they get into power. It could be that intoxicant hidden in their ego. I do not know why Obasanjo thought Yar'Adua would remain loyal to him for the rest of his life. Promises amongst the politicians to the people or to themselves are not worth a thing, they have no permanent friends or foes.
In the case of Nigeria, Shagari promised one term. Abiola and his newspaper, Concord sang the praises of NPN until Shagari told him presidency is not for sale in the second term. Buhari/Idiagbon partial War Against Indiscipline, WAI, which some of us prefer to the prevailing corruption then, was sacked by palace coup. As Buhari/Idiagbon could not believe it was Babangida who overthrew them, Idiagbon preferred to fly in immediately from Mecca to see. He was later allowed in and he did see himself, in jail.
If Babangida thought Abacha was holding forth for him while he "stepped aside" with Shonekan in power, he bowed to superior brutal power. As Abdulsalam was relinquishing power to Obasanjo, he awarded contracts and put people in strategic positions. Obasanjo was no fool; he changed those positions that he could. All I am saying: so will Yar’Adua.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Nigeria. We hear that in America, when Republicans get in, you know what to expect compared to when Democrats get into power. In Britain, they say, Conservatives and Labor parties have different discernible agendas. Can you trust either party on taxes spent on military or dole? But in Russia, Yelsin picked his successor and Putin will pick his own. So be it. I beg, we have our own way in Nigeria!
No matter how diligent and smart Yar'Adua is, he can not balance power among the entire king makers of Nigeria but his choice will betray his inclinations. Obasanjo can not bank on his association with the elder late Yar'Adua. That is a passé. Yar’Adua has to find his own comfortable level to preserve himself in office.
At the end of the day, his Government has to survive. There are some people, I hate to mention names but we all have them. When you are driving a car, they think they are in the driver's seat. If you turn, they swing. If you break, they break with you. Sometimes, they break when you don't. They point out everything on the road to you including red and green lights. See Yar'Adua problem o!
I fear people who do not talk much. They are resolute and calculating. They know what they want to do but would listen to you. One of my uncles, Bros Campy lolo told me as a little boy that the only ones worse than them are those who do not drink, smoke, like women or food. You can neither joke with them nor catch them unawares.
However, what bothers me is that the young, educated and devoted progressives union from the North and the South may loose out. If that happens, we are back to square one when Calabar was the capital. Actually those were the good old days. We do not want to see the days when we will say Obasanjo days were better.
If the Babangida/Danjuma axis is accommodated, they will demand the head of my dear Nuhu Ribadu and his cohorts will scramble for cover. For those of us who are not so privileged, we can only watch the tea leaves. So for us how much influence Babangida or Ribadu has on Yar’Adua is the key to watch out for. Babangida always demand his price. When I heard that he was missing from the swearing in at Abuja, I paused for meaning.
We have now heard how young and inexperience Nuhu Ribadu is for the position of Inspector General of Police. Even if that is true; his zeal, dedication and forthrightness can be put to use in a better position. If you want to skin a cat, you give it a bad name. They love Ribadu but!
This method of trying to belittle Nuhu Ribadu is suspicious if you look at the sources. A Chief of Police, Tafa Balogun who was supported by some other police chiefs was hunted down for corruption by Ribadu. The junior police officers went to the Congress and repeated what they have been saying for years: that they need roadside bribe for vehicle maintenance, argument their salary and make returns to senior police officers. Indeed, we have heard that some previous police chiefs still collect “allowance”. Who came out shouting bloody murder? Nobody!
Predictably, a domineering former President in the Party will be counted for Yoruba by other five zones. He crowds out his Yoruba kin and makes the Chairman uncomfortable. There is no reason whatsoever, to play such role. If he was smart, he would have retired to his farm quietly as promised. He likes to see himself as the most powerful Yoruba man dead or alive, or African. Watch him jet in and out to continue his dreams; who cares, as long as it is not on taxpayer dole, fine.
As Nigerians, we focus too much on positions that have not benefited us in our villages. If the amount of money budgeted for rural areas and basic services are watched closely as we watch our kin in powerful positions, Nigeria will be better off. Some people say Nigerians do not demand or sought accountability. Politicians know that and they placate us with little bribes to keep our eyes off the prize.
Let us send messages to President Umaru Yar’Adua that the people we want are those who are competent and can account for every penny budgeted for their programs or projects. It is the only way we can smell or feel the billions and trillions of naira directed to our streets, villages and towns. A man or woman who has nothing to show for past services or has not shown demonstrated ability to succeed must not get into the cabinet.
WHICH WAY NIGERIA: THE REALITY CHECK
Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa
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