Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS or Scheme) was one of the first projects created by former president Olusegun Obasanjo when he became the civilian President in 1999. Written into law that year, the program was further expanded via legislative provisions in 2004 and finally launched in 2005. Since then, the program has apparently disbursed over N23 billion to registered health care providers participating in the plan. The Scheme now covers 3 million Nigerians and according to the NHIS Director, Dogo Mohammed, all Nigerians will have universal insurance coverage in 2015.

It is exciting to know that Nigerian universal health care is not merely a concept. Health care should be considered a fundamental human right and every Nigerian, regardless of their wealth should have access to it. In furtherance of the program, the federal government allocated N6 billion to provide free maternal care and early-child care in 6 states - Bayelsa, Gombe, Imo, Niger, Oyo and Sokoto. In a country where "191 children die out of every 100,000 births and 1,100 women die out of every 100,000 deliveries," this money
is necessary and could impact an untold amount of lives.

Despite the reality that the Federal Government clearly has a practical and already implemented plan to provide access to health care, there remains many issues that must be concurrently tackled to make the rewards of future universal health care truly beneficial. The fact remains that Nigeria is 174 out of 191 countries ranked according to the life expectancy rates as listed in the 2007 CIA World Factbook, falling behind Haiti and Somalia. Nigerian life expectancy is only 47 years and has not improved but dipped since independence in 1960. Much more undoubtedly needs to be done to improve the condition of health and health care in the nation.

In order for Nigerians to benefit from universal health care, Nigeria obviously needs functioning institutions of health that can cater to the complex reality of the people's health needs. Institutions that do not just cater to curing citizens but also focus on preventative health care issues. These institutions must practice health research on a level competitive with research hospitals in the many countries Nigeria's President and other 'leaders' flock to for check ups and surgery. In addition, they must cultivate and incorporate our knowledge of local remedies into a general health approach that will not only improve our health care but extend lives and living conditions. Consequently, money must be pumped into the Nigerian school system, by the federal and state governments, to produce the skilled individuals needed in the country and limit the number of trained professionals that have to leave for better paying jobs abroad. Not to talk about the roads and power problems that still need to be tackled.
The prospect of universal health care as an option for Nigerians in 2015 is something every Nigerian should look forward to. It is definitely a step in the right direction and we must not take any more steps backward. On the eve of the country's 48th year as a nation state, one can only think that we have wasted enough time and must begin to implement and maintain the programs Nigeria, and its people, have always needed.

UPDATE (12/9/08): The World Bank has 'pledged' to support the NHIS program.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Nigerian music has always been an avenue for artists to express the fears, concerns and issues of the people. Fela Kuti lost his mother and ended up in jail on account of his criticism of various regimes. Sonny Okosun sang songs in support of the Anti-Apartheid movement.

Both Fela and Sonny Okosun are now departed but it seems that Nigerian musicians continue to use song to convey the import of current issues. For instance, Timaya's "Dem Mama" is a touching song that captures the horror of the Odi Massacre in 1999. Fela's son, Femi Kuti, also keeps the spirit of Afrobeat music alive with creative and inspiring music.

Then there is the latest song from Sound Sultan called "BushMeat". Born Olanrewaju Fasasi, he manages to create a message that is unique yet very Nigerian at the same time. With a clever use of double speak and an incredible play on words, Sound Sultan and fellow Nigerian artist TuFace Idibia create a song that is a herald's call to the people to wake up.

In many ways it is 'Rebel Music' of the kind Fela (AKA 'Baba') created and that has now become prophetic. Did I mention that I love 'Rebel Music'? Will this song ever be filed away in the halls with the incredible music Fela and others created? I am not sure, but I can personally attest that if you listen to the words of this song, you will be inspired to want a better Nigeria that belongs to the people and not just the 'Hunter'.

In the song, he asks the crucial question,

"When de bushmeat go catch de hunter?"
And, he goes on to eventually pose additional questions that force one to think a little deeper,

"What could be the answer,
Or could it be that we don't matter to them,
Cause they chop your money,
My money,
Every other person money..."
I personally don't have the answers to these questions, but am glad at the opportunity to ponder them.

With Nigerians creating more conscious, yet danceable and enjoyable music, the toils of 'Baba' and others who sacrificed for their art and their beliefs will not be in vain. I apologize for not having the lyrics to 'Bushmeat' and if anyone can provide them, I will be sure to add them to the post. Regardless, take the time to listen and I hope that you will be moved by the message.


As Fela famously said "Music Is The Weapon" and I believe that some day, the 'Bushmeat' will indeed catch the 'Hunter'!

Further Reading:
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent II - P-Square "Say your Love"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent III - Infinity's "Olori Oko"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent IV - Tuface
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent V - Ty Bello's "Greenland"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VI - Banky W.'s "Ebute Meta"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VII - Fishe's "Africa"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VIII - Asa's "So Beautiful"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent IX - Nayo's "1+1"

And, Check Out:
- Radical Lyrics (Lost At The End Of The World)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I received an email message this week and the writer argued that I have been rude to Nigeria's President, Umaru Musa Ya'r'Adua.

Using names like Yardie and YawnAdua are rude and insulting.
By the way, 'YawnAdua' was created by the Ijebuman.

Believe it or not, my purpose on this site is simply to discuss the issues that I find important and learn from others comments. It is never to be rude. However, I do not think it is rude to refer to Yar'Adua as 'Yardy'. It is a shorter form of his full name and suggests nothing untoward, particularly on my part. Other nicknames that are used by other bloggers and Nigerians simply refer to the characteristics the President himself has exhibited while in office. In most cases, they are not meant to be an insult, but I cannot speak for other people.

Additionally, shortening the President's name to 'Yardy' is also a product of the modern internet age. For those of us who spend a lot of time writing, we eventually learn to transform everything to shorthand. A lot of my readers refer to me as "Solly", "SSD", "Solo" and only God knows what else. Maybe we are all simply lazy, or maybe we all just like creating nicknames.

So, what do you think? Is it rude to use a nickname in reference to Yar'Adua?

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Yar'Adua has been President of Nigeria for over a year and that time has been characterized by playful nicknames like "Baba Go Slow", "YawnAdua", "Sof'ly, Sof'ly Yardy" and a host of other monikers that reflect a general suspicion. Many Nigerians question whether Yar'Adua's laid back, non-interfering style is appropriate to run Nigeria and its myriad of complexities. However, in light of Yar'Adua's recent reaction to Channels TV's mistaken broadcast that the President would step down, Nigerians must begin to do some deeper thinking about unintended consequences and the President they have.


Last week, Channels TV broadcast that Yar'Adua would be forced to step down due to his health. That information was supposedly received via email from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) which typically uses free generic email addresses (e.g. hotmail.com, yahoo.com). In reality, the email was a hoax, sent from a computer in Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire. Nevertheless, Yar'Adua reacted by shutting down the station, arresting many employees and withdrawing the station's license to operate.

When one puts Yar'Adua's reaction into the puzzle of other pieces that have arisen in recent weeks, one could technically understand the response. Yar'Adua has been under significant pressure to prove that he is either alive or dead, and, that, if he is alive, he is capable of running the country. Certain political opportunists have also jumped on the confusion bandwagon created by the lack of information surrounding Yar'Adua's health.  Some individuals and groups have called for the President to step down. As such, it is conceivable that Yar'Adua feels the need to 'throw his weight' around and illustrate that he is very capable of handling state affairs.

Consequently, the question Nigerians must ask ourselves is are we the reason why Yar'Adua infringed on the democratic rights of Channels TV? Did our constant discussion of our fears for the country and our concerns about how the President would run the nation 'force his hand' on this issue? We have compared Yar'Adua to so many other past dictators and Presidents. Fellow blogger Oz provides a description of past rulers that is an adept summary of the way Nigerians view past rulers. The complaints and criticisms seemingly made Yar'Adua overreact and now he has become the sort of President that all Nigerians do not need - a heavy handed individual that undermines the very democracy Nigerians so desperately seek.

However, I personally believe that no matter what Yar'Adua must defend democratic principles. In fact, the President has consistently promised to commit his administartion to democracy, the rule of law and justice. Therefore, under no circumstance is it necessary to shut down the press simply for shoddy journalism. Granted, Channels TV failed its obligation to the people by broadcasting questionable information that indeed, could have proven a security risk. But, that is not a reason for the President to arrest journalists, station staff, shut down the station's offices and withdraw their license to operate. This reaction harkens back to Nigeria's military dictators who simply did what they wanted with no regards for human and civil rights.

Despite all this, it is wonderful that Channels TV's license was reinstated 48 hours after it was withdrawn. I hope that whatever investigation took place revealed that the broadcast, though incorrect, was not part of a plot to subvert the office of the President. Yar'Adua is the President of Nigeria and that cannot be an easy job. Hopefully, Yar'dua will not become a clone of former President Obasanjo who banned Eedris Abdulkareem's song "Jaga Jaga" which criticized his administration and the general state of Nigeria.

Regardless of the pressures of the job, it is better for Mr. President to retain his cool composure, than to take drastic measures that impede upon the very democratic values he is charged with defending.

Further Reading:
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Ya'Adua's Mysterious Health

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nigerian television station, Channels TV, was shut down by Yar'Adua today. Yar'Adua sent Nigeria's State Security Service (SSS) to shut down the station and its senior staff were arrested because the channel reported that Yar'Adua would step down because of his health. The report by Channels TV was attributed to information received from News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

http://www.nigeriancarnival.com/logo/channels.gif http://www.punchng.com/images/June/Wednesday/pix200706272301292.jpg

However, upon investigation, NAN stated that it had not issued any statement about the President stepping down. The suspect one line e-mail, received by Channels TV, has now proven to be a hoax sent from a computer in the Ivory Coast. Nigeria's Minister of Information, John Odey told the BBC that the government was angered by the report. He said,
"It's an unfounded report published by people who want to distract the government from running the country ... Something like this can destabilise the country and affect the economy, the security aspect is very grave..." [sic]

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fellow blogger, Reginald Bassey, recently warned that the tension in the Niger Delta required that the region's issues be treated gently and handled with care. In his writing on the Delta he expressed his concern that the problems of the Niger Delta could develop into a civil war that would take the nation by surprise. Unfortunately, recent developments seem to have taken the region and nation one step closer to conflict and the prediction Reginald made.


On Sunday, September 14th, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Delta (MEND) declared an "oil war" against Nigerian forces in the area. In a statement released by the group, MEND stated,
"Following a previous warning that any attack on our positions will be tantamount to a declaration of an oil war, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has declared an oil war in response to the unprovoked aerial and marine attacks on a MEND position in Rivers State of Nigeria on September 13, 2008 by the armed forces of Nigeria...

The operation will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue. This military style bullying belongs to the past 50 years when the Niger Delta people responded only with their mouths, pens and placards.

All international oil and gas loading vessels entering the region are warned to drop anchor in the high sea or divert elsewhere until further notice. Failure to comply is taking a foolhardy risk of attack and destruction of the vessel.
Again, we are asking that oil companies evacuate their staff from their field facilities because the brief is not to capture hostages but to bring these structures to the ground."
Nigeria's Joint Task Force (JTF), a special military unit charged with fighting Niger Delta militancy, responded that it would "flush out" the militants. Speaking on behalf of the JTF, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said all militants
"are advised to come to terms with reality as the status quo must be reversed for the good of all. The time for lawlessness, wanton economic sabotage, kidnap and the urge for quick money will soon be over."
Clearly, MEND and the JTF have decided, not just for themselves but for the people of the Delta, that guns and bombs will solve the problems of the Niger Delta. All sides have ignored the need for clear regional development and a permanent ceasefire by militants and other armed thugs as the first step in remedying the fraught situation. As one whose ancestral home in Abonema was recently invaded by gang members seeking refuge from the recent battle that took the lives of many 'York City' residents, leaving the place a ghost town, this saber rattling from both sides is absolutely unacceptable.

And now, MEND has kept its promise by destroying the Alakiri Flow Station owned by the Royal Dutch Shell company (Shell). MEND announced that it killed many soldiers and workers that were inside. This unnecessary act of murder and destruction has now simply escalated the problem and undoubtedly will definitely lead to more military pressure from the JTF.

The JTF should not have responded to MEND's declaration of an oil war. In my opinion, it should have left that to the politicians instead of escalation the tension. In fact, Yar'Adua should have immediately responded to the threat of an "oil war". When he came to power, he reached out to MEND and they responded positively by issuing a ceasefire. Therefore, Yar'Adua could have again reached out to MEND and said whatever was necessary to ease the tension. Considering the recent announcement of a new Niger Delta Ministry, it was for Yar'Adua, and not the JTF, to respond to the militants.

Yar'Adua announced the creation of a Niger Delta Ministry on September 10, and in a meeting with a visiting representative of the British government said,
"The Ministry will coordinate our efforts to tackle the challenges of infrastructural development, environment protection and youth empowerment in the region."
Despite this explanation for the creation of the new Niger Delta ministry, several questions remain. How exactly does the administration plan to "tackle the challenges" of the region? How will this new ministry correlate with the JTF's threat of all out war with militants and the declaration of an "oil war" by MEND? Why was the creation of the ministry announced with little to no details about how it will achieve its goals? Providing details about the ministry would have fueled more confidence in the move and lessened the cynicism that this ministry will go down the route of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Already, various individuals are criticizing the existence of the new outfit. Some have started a debate over whether the idea to create the ministry belongs to former Vice President Atiku or Yar'Adua. Others are more interested in whether the ministry will be run by a Niger Delta native or not. And, the argument has been made that the new ministry will simply stall any progress in the Niger Delta due to bureaucracy.

No matter what happens, it is crucial that an all out civil war does not break out as a result of the chaos in the Niger Delta. Nigerians will not benefit from an armed conflict. Conflict on the African continent has cost approximately $300 billion since 1990 according to Oxfam. Consequently, Nigerians cannot afford to become another statistic - a nation that falls into civil war like so many of our West African neighbors.
Source: Gemzies

If one may borrow from the Swahili proverb, Nigerians should remember that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. As such, we must ensure that no such battle develops in order to preserve a unified Nigeria that will have a chance at becoming a developed and competitive nation. Furthermore, when will Nigerians themselves put their foot down and demand peace in the nation? No president can solve Nigeria's problems without the active and determined lead of the people requiring change. Until that day comes, Nigerians will be the stomped grass destroyed at the feet of mighty and armed elephants. And, if conflict ever comes to Nigeria, we would have squandered our children's future.

UPDATE: MEND has announced a ceasefire but it has "warned it would end the truce if attacked by the army again." (September 21, 2008)

Further Reading:

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In an unprecedented July move, the ICC charged Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, with genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to the murder of approximately 300,000 Darfurians. This move was praised by many around the world for its commitment to bringing an end to the Darfurian crisis and the continued murder of innocent Black Africans.

 Source: MSNBC Online

Unfortunately, Nigeria is now leading the charge to stop the International Criminal Court's (ICC) case against al-Bashir. This information was announced by the African Union (AU) Chairman and Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, at a joint conference held in Sudan and al-Bashir was present.
In its review of the conference and announcement, The Nation a Kenyan newspaper distributed in Nairobi, noted,
President Kikwete affirmed that the AU and UN will work with the government of Sudan to realise peace and justice in Darfur and to handle the humanitarian crisis in the region.
President Kikwete expressed his appreciation for the commitment made by Sudan and President al-Bashir personally to endeavour to solve the issue of Darfur, stressing that the UN does not undermine the importance of justice in Darfur and that the AU believes that it's an important issue, but priority should be given to peace, humanitarian issues, protection of lives and alleviation of suffering in the western Sudan region. [sic]
I doubt that most Africans that hear about this move by the AU will be surprised. A staple of African modern political history is that African leaders will do what they will regardless of how it affects the future of their people. Consequently, it is not shocking to those who follow African politics that Africa's Heads of State would once again rally around one of their own. This despite the fact that AU troops, a significant portion of them being underpaid, ill-equiped yet committed Nigerian soldiers, charged with maintaining the peace in Darfur have been consistently attacked and murdered by the Janjaweed.

What is disappointing is the realization that once again, the AU did not consider the ICC case against al-Bashir an opportunity to be used to the advantage of  its reputation, the reputation of African leaders and the benefit of the victims of genocide in Darfur. Instead of announcing to the world that the AU will use its UN votes and influence (in conjunction with the Arab League) to prevent the ICC case from going forward, Kikwete and the other powers that be should have forced al-Bashir to take specific and obvious steps towards peace in Darfur.

Why did the Sudanese government not announce that it had enforced a cease fire with the government-backed Janjaweed militants? Or, that the Janjaweed had turned in their weapons?  Or, that plans were in the process to return Darfurians from refugee camps to their destroyed towns and villages so they could rebuild and start the semblance of a normal life? Instead of concrete plans on how to end the genocide and bring about a peaceful future, the AU, al-Bashir and Nigeria have once again failed the people.

What is further disappointing, and actually embarrassing, is that Yar'Adua, Nigeria's President, has apparently given permission to Nigeria's Ambassador to the United Nations to work with the AU to achieve its announced objective of supporting al-Bashir.  This despite the fact that Yar'Adua criticized Mugabe recently and has repeated, ad nauseam, his commitment to the "rule of law".  How does this move, which was not even mentioned to the Nigerian press and people by the Nigerian government mesh with Yar'Adua's "rule of law" mantra? If the ICC, a court of grand esteem that has even seated Nigerian judges as well as other well-respected judges and justices from around the world, determines that there is enough evidence to charge al-Bashir while he is a seating President, why did Yar'Adua not apply his same 'hands off' policy? Why commit Nigeria to interfering  with the international legal process when he hardly did that much with regard to the ICC required-Nigerian Supreme Court- and National Assembly condemning handover of the Bakasi region to Cameroon?

Source: USA Today 
Furthermore, considering that 45 Nigerian soldiers returning from Darfur lost their lives in a blazing car accident in Abuja, why not speed up efforts to improve Nigerian roads and speed up in specific and detailed measures, the peace process in Darfur by forcing the Sudanese government to commit to an end to genocide? Or, were their lives lost in vain?

This inconsistency by the Yar'Adua administration on this and other issues begs the question - when was this decision to assist al-Bashir made? Was it made while he was in Saudi Arabia for the "lesser hajj" or what we now know was emergency surgery for chronic end stage kidney disease? Or, was the decision made by Nigeria's Vice president Goodluck Jonathan  who apparently ran at least 2 meetings usually led by Yar'Adua while he was recovering abroad? Who made this decision exactly and how and why? This is just another consequence of Yar'Adua's mysterious health, and now Nigerians do not know who should be held responsible for this news especially as the president is nowhere in sight to speak directly to the people about this and other concerns. And, keep in mind that while Yar'Adua was away in Saudi Arabia for medical care, rumors emerged from Aso Rock that Nigeria would apologize for Yar'Adua's criticism of Mugabe, a rumor that Ojo Maduekwe quickly refuted, but a rumor that probably would not have emerged if there was not so much uncertainty over who runs the nation.

It is simply disgraceful that Nigeria is not consistent with regard to its supposed commitment to the "rule of law", democracy and peace on the African continent. But, considering the instability within the nation and the lack of transparency on the condition of the President, how can anyone expect that, at this time, Nigeria will stand up and do what is right at home and abroad?

God bless Nigeria and all of her people. May they, and all Africans, realize that they alone can require their 'leader' to do better. If not, things will never change.

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Further Reading:
- Nigeria Darfur, Mugabe & The ICC
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Health Issue
- The Consequences of Ya'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Talking Through Both Sides Of His Mouth
- 'Soiled Hands' & Strategy; What Nigeria Says About Democracy

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Could Nigeria produce a young politician that is inspiring and innovative? Would such a person, man or woman, eventually have a chance at running the country from within the gated walls of Aso Rock - the seat of Nigerian presidential power?

This is a question that I have been wrestling with for some time now. And, apparently, a lot of other people are pondering this issue, as well. Former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter C. Carrington, recently concluded that Obama could never have emerged as a Presidential candidate in Nigeria. Carrington explained that politics in Nigeria is not controlled by the people, but instead by powerful godfathers who determine which individuals could rise through the ranks to eventually run for and become Nigerian president.  In fact, Carrington's description of the Nigerian political power process was akin to a basic description of a Mafia operation. He said,

"[m]any ... parties perform like our big city machines used in places like Boston , Chicago and New York . The days of corrupt machines are mostly gone."
But, apparently, those days are not long gone in Nigeria and what does that spell for the future of Nigerian 'democracy'? If the democratic system cannot produce and protect those with ideas that go against the status quo and the incumbents, then when will Nigerians truly become determinants in their own future? If veritable opposition parties cannot exist without having accusations of treason leveled against them by the party in power, then what assurance is there for those outside of mainstream politics that their ideas can have a place in Nigeria's political town hall?

Granted, 2007 was the first time that one non-military ruler passed power to another non-military leader in Nigeria's history. So, yes, one could argue that Nigeria is still 'adjusting' to democracy. But, how slowly will Nigeria 'adjust'? Will the rest of the world, and particularly the developed nations Yar'Adua and Nigerians so desperately want to catch up with (re: Vision 2020) continue to leave us in the dust? If Nigeria does not become a place where original and innovative thought is at least acknowledged, without being attributed to the devil or demonized for being 'un-Nigerian' (whatever that means), then true democracy will continue to be nothing but a drunken and unattainable dream. And the possibility that our very own 'Obamas', whoever and wherever they are, will never have an opportunity to share their insight and ideas is quite disappointing.

However, that is just my inclination on these matters. I hope to know yours.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

In August, Umaru Yar'Adua announced that the nation has 187 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, making it the seventh largest gas reserve in the world. These gas reserves were all discovered while searching for oil reserves and because of the abundance of the resource, the President was confident that the gas will lead to "aggressive GDP growth and national energy sufficiency".

Nigeria is currently experiencing a serious electric power deficit. Approximately 60% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity and of the other 40% that do, they face inconsistent energy supply and live without power a majority of the time. The recent Senate 'power probe' revealed that former President Obasanjo unofficially gave away $50 million to non-existent companies and that his administration had officially spent between $10 - $16 billion on the power sector with no measurable results.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Every choice, every action and every preference for inaction will have a consequence. That consequence can be immediate and obvious or the consequence and/or consequences can be slow to appear and occur over a period of time. In 15 months of the swearing in Umar Musa Yar'Adua as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the consequences of his mysterious health condition are, slowly but surely, becoming abundantly clear.

In March 2007, Yar'Adua was rushed to Germany for treatment and eventually rumors swirled that he was dead. Even party officials that should have known of his condition where left in the dark as to whether he was dead or alive. It was not until he granted an interview to the BBC's Hausa radio service that Nigerians discovered that he was, thankfully, alive and well.

Once again, Nigerians are unfortunately left with absolutely no information as to the whereabouts and health of their president. Nigeria's newspapers are awash with speculation as to where Yar'Adua has been since his trip to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj over a week ago. Some newspapers now report that the President underwent a renal transplant which, upon further research, is apparently only performed on individuals with chronic end-stage renal/kidney disease. Officials have refused to confirm this information.

Like most Nigerians, I continue to wish Yar'Adua a quick and speedy recovery and am happy to learn that his surgery (assuming there was one) was successful and that he is recovering in Saudi Arabia. However, like every Nigerian, I have to confront the unanswered issues that his 'condition' and apparent surgery raise. It is unconscionable for the President of Nigeria to schedule significant and life threatening surgery without informing the people he serves. While all good meaning people will understand that he must take care of his health especially as he apparently suffered from chronic kidney disease, is it not fair that Nigerians know that their president is seriously unwell and could undergo surgery?

Rather than keep the nation abreast of the President's situation, officials have consistently ignored the obvious news reports of surgery in the local media and instead insisted that the President is perfectly well and participating in the lesser Hajj. This, despite the fact that the President's trip to Brazil was canceled or "readjusted" as the Foreign Minister, Ojo Maduekwe, now claims. Yar'Adua, like Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, is not a private individual, as such every move he makes, or doesn't make, must be privy to the populace. After all, it is the people that will endure the consequences of any decisions made by their President - for better or for worse.

Nigerians are beginning to suffer the consequences of Yar'Adua's decision to not be upfront with the people. The PDP (Yar'Adua's party) sowed seeds of confusion by alleging coup attempts, Yar'Adua validated (intentionally or otherwise) those allegations with a military shakeup, and then traveled to Saudi Arabia for surgery, leaving the nation anxious and confused. This environment has, as expected, led to political opportunists like former Presidential hopeful, Major General Buhari (rtd.) jockeying to step into the supposed political vacuum. Buhari has publicly called for the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, to assume the Presidential seat and run the country in the absence of Yar'Adua.

Who would gain from such a proposition? No offense to Goodluck Jonathan, but, he is surrounded by a corruption scandal which might have died down because of his new position as the nation's Number 2. Nevertheless, the fact that $13.5 million was seized from his wife, Patience Jonathan, and was the subject of a now stalled EFCC investigation extinguishes his credibility to become President of a country which is struggling to battle excessive corruption and its overwhelming effects on every aspect of Nigerian existence. Regardless of how Yar'Adua cam to power, at least he has no corruption scandal hanging over his head and even managed to reveal his assets when he came to office. Therefore, is it Johnathan that Yar'Adua, who committed himself to selflessly serving the people, intends to have run the country in his absence?

And as for Buhari, he has disqualified himself from any discussion on the future of Nigeria and its politics, in my humble opinion. Buhari, who lost to Yar'Adua and even contested the results of the 2007 Presidential elections, insulted the very people he sought to 'serve' when he attempted to rewrite the history of Nigeria's most notorious former military dictator, the late General Sani Abacha. Buhari exalted Abacha in death and challenged any allegations of his looting by blatantly stating,
"...ten years after Abacha, those [looting] allegations remain unproven because of lack of facts."
This, despite the unquestionable fact that Abacha, his family, friends and cohorts looted the nation's Central Bank to the tune of $505.5 million!!! If Buhari is to have his way, it would not surprise me that he would angle himself into a position of power and influence over a Johnathan-led government and/or destabilize a Johnathan-led government. My conspiracy-loving mind cannot help but be suspicious given what is publicly known of the various parties involved.

Many Nigerians now believe that military coups are unfashionable and a thing of the past in Nigeria. I, on the other hand, have learned to expect the unexpected. Consequently, I feel that Yar'Adua's recent firing of Nigeria's Chief of Defense Staff, the head of the Army and Navy was a strategic move to prevent the possibility of a coup by eliminating the most powerful figures that could confront the current power structure. However, the continued absence of Yar'Adua from Nigeria and the fact that the public has not seen or heard him over the last week, begs the question of whether this can create an opening for some military element to take over the country? I absolutely detest the thought of a military regime ever controlling Nigeria again and hope that Yar'Adua will recover quickly enough to reclaim his role as President because no matter what anyone thinks about last year's Presidential elections, Yar'Adua is a better alternative to a military regime.

At the end of the day, Yar'Adua needs to get well very quickly and return to Nigeria so that it is obvious who is in charge of ensuring that the ship sails relatively smoothly. Every ship needs its captain. Similarly, Nigeria needs its President, for better or for worse. Particularly, to limit the untoward consequences of his absence that are beginning to appear and will undoubtedly worsen if things continue with no positive change.

Further Reading:
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Wanted Dead Or Alive
- Rest In Peace
- "We Need Fresh Blood Haba!!!! Bones Are Weak!!!"

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