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., 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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N.I.M.M.O said...

Personally, I will not be worried about UMYAwn trying to prove whether he is alive or dead. Of course, we all know he did not close Channels TV. Rather it was some over-zealous nincompoop trying to prove that he was still loyal to Oga.

You must realise that the removal of some top officials from government in the last two/three weeks has created a number of vacancies and the rumored sacking of the cabinet will throw up more vacancies. People will always be people.

Worrisome though is the fact that all these make us all look stupid. I could not but laugh at my good friend Yomi Bolarinwa, 'Acting DG of the NBC trying to explain the suspension of Channels' TV licence when the very NBC Act he was quoting expressly states that it (suspension) can only be effected on the orders of a court.

I don't blame Yomi, he's an engineer not a lawyer. And he needs to keep his job. Pray, where was his boss, the Minister of Information (& Communications?), Odey?

My people, just bring your chair and join me in watching this drama unfold.

There is more to come....

Shawn said...

Re: The kind of President we have in Yaradua...? Well you know what they say about people who look quiet and gentle? Like volcanoes right? Peaceful, tranquil mountain range one moment; angry, errupting molten-lava-spittin-volcano the next.
But we also know what they say about the slow and steady....they are supposed to win the race!
So what say we? Let us pray for Yaradua and for Nigeria. He knows who Yaradua really is.

Anonymous said...

lol@ Sof'ly, Sof'ly Yardy

ijebuman said...

"Yawn'Adua" (that was coined by me lol)
I think you're making a big assumption that Yardy actually ordered the closure of channels TV, methinks it was the NBC, the SSS and the Minister for information trying to outdo each other in showing who was most loyal to Yardy.

For the love of me said...

someone on nairaland said Yaradua must have been given Mugabe's kidney. i had a good laugh. I agree with N.I.M.O, it makes us all look silly, from NAN to NBC, to Channels, to Yardy, and his press secretary or whoever is responsible for managing info shld be sacked. They are doing a really bad job.

TheAfroBeat said...

Even if we are the reason for his undemocratic actions of late, response to the frustration of the masses is not a justifiable excuse. His actions of recent have spoken louder than his (and our) words about due process and the rest of his usual schpiel. I suspect his wife and cabinet of advisors are jumping on the opportunity to play puppetmaster while he's in "recovery mode", so I'm hoping it blows over and we can get back to the day job of solving the socioeconomic issues of the country.

In other news, i heard on NTA news last night that the FG is planning a "low-key independence" day marked with prayers for the nation. I think the FG has their priorities all wrong - what's the point of a low-key independence anniversary without the re-stated commitment to hurry up and change things, so as not to have a repeat low-key anniversary next year, but instead one, where we can look back on the past year and be proud that we've taken one step forward in many areas of economic life. Ah well, i rant...

Thanks for sharing bo.

Chxta said...

I have to second Ijebuman here. Sometimes our people tend to overdo it in their bid to show how 'loyal' they are...

Anonymous said...

That's Nigeria for us i guess.

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