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Dotun Oyeniyi
BSc.(Hons); LLB (Hons); LLM (Lond)

Author, Economist and Practicing Attorney
London, England

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However, he is unlikely to do these. He dares not.  The nest of dubious politicians in the PDP will not let him. With Jonathan in the saddle, nothing changes and nothing will change for he represents the same old wine in a new bottle.


by Dotun Oyeniyi

After a long, self-serving, and bewilderingly egoistic attempt by the minders of President Yar’Adua to continue to rule Nigeria behind the veil of an invisible president; commonsense, rather than constitutional provisions eventually triumphed.  The Yar’Adua interregnum was over, or appears to be, at least for now, and out of that protracted gridlock emerged a man with an incredible ‘goodluck’, Mr Jonathan as the Acting President (“AP”).

With all changes come great expectations and Jonathan’s elevation to AP is not different.   From right, left and centre have come advice and messages of goodwill.  Even without any advice, the AP is human; he is a Nigerian and knows what is right to be done.  The real issue is whether the AP can summon the courage to execute radical agendas. And I regret to say that, being a member of the PDP and a product of that party’s oligarchic arrangement, Mr Jonathan is the same old, unpleasant wine in a new bottle.  The only difference between him and President Yar’Adua is agility.  One is agile and able to move about; the other is confined to a life support machine.

We do not need a soothsayer to know that this Acting President will not be able to carry out radical programmes needed to turn things around.  His complacency and treacherous reticence during the Yar’Adua interregnum and his unassertive response to the drafting of soldiers to welcome the President at night with neither his consent nor knowledge as the commander in Chief are enough testimonies to the strength of his spine.

Though he seems to be gradually basking in the aura of power that normally pervades the presidency, yet that aura lacks any vestiges of authority required to do the right thing no matter whose horse is gored.  The AP is threading with too much caution; governing with too much dependence on inputs from those people who have already had their days and failed us; and is clearly a prisoner of an endless fear of ‘what if.’   Yes! ‘What if’ President Yar’Adua turns up in the office tomorrow?’

The ‘what if’ factor constitutes one of the most debilitating clogs in the AP’s ability to act freely.  Like a lion that is in anaesthetic induced slumber whose sudden reawakening will prove suicidal to those in its vicinity unless it has been securely locked up before regaining consciousness; if President Yar’Adua miraculously emerged from his life support machine, the alacrity with which he will deliver reprisal blows on Mr Jonathan and his policies may end up in the Guinness book of Records as the swiftest and most violent blow ever delivered by a recuperating person.   This summarises why the AP appears to be constantly looking over his soldier like a timorous fugitive before taking decisions. A serious and objective lawmaking organ would have long impeached President Yar’Adua to forestall this kind of scenario and spare us all, from becoming unwilling spectators at the staging of the Part two of the Turai Yar’Adua Theatre Group’s play – ‘the homecoming  of the invisible president’.

With due respect to those fine members of the body, the recently constituted Presidential advisory Committee is a needless initiative possibly borne out of the inputs of those who have had their days and failed us.  What on earth has General Danjuma got left to offer?  I strongly believe that we have had enough of these retired but untired Generals.  Danjuma has been involved in this power game since when he was alleged to have led the mutinous troop that murdered both Ironsi and Fajuyi in Ibadan.  That was some 44 years ago. He has since remained a substantial part of the different phases of Nigeria’s history to date thereby becoming one of those who drove us to our present sorry state.  That apart, anyone that is as deeply involved as Danjuma is in the scrabble to win oil blocks cannot genuinely and wholeheartedly work for the masses.  Commonsense dictates that you cannot be a judge in any dispute in which you are a party.

The ministers appointed by Yar’Adua were all sacked for most of them to be reappointed into the cabinet again by the AP.  The AP has also inherited and imbibed the culture of appointing and electing people, not by merit, but by heredity.  We have heard of both Bukola and Gbemisola Saraki; Iyabo Obasanjo, Remi Fani-Kayode, Akeem Adedibu among others, now it is the turn of Murtala Yar’Adua.  It is the same reprehensible cycle of human recycling The time is so short for the AP to be scurrying about for advice from people least qualified to give it.  He needs to be swiftly decisive if he is going to leave any commendable legacy behind him.  The electoral reform of Justice Uwais led committee must be fully implemented; Mr Iwu must be removed and replaced with a more impartial and non-partisan person.  Mr Nuhu Ribadu must be reinstated into the police; leaving him to his fate amounts to discouraging virtuous people from giving their best to their fatherland.  The role of Michael Aoondoaka in stalling the trial of some allegedly corrupt former governors must be investigated; and most importantly, the 2011 elections must be free and fair and the choice of the masses must be respected whatever it is.  The AP does not need an adviser to know that if he does all of these, his names will be written in gold.

However, he is unlikely to do these. He dares not.  The nest of dubious politicians in the PDP will not let him. With Jonathan in the saddle, nothing changes and nothing will change for he represents the same old wine in a new bottle.




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