During a recent conversation, I was informed by a fellow Nigerian that some of us Nigerians are far too critical of President Yar'Adua. According to my friend, most Nigerians have never given him a chance to do anything right and have little compassion for the difficulties Yar'Adua must face as President of a nation with many problems and many interested in preventing solutions.
After listening to the well argued sentiment of my friend, I had to take some time to consider whether I am too harsh on President Yar'Adua. That lasted only a few seconds, however. I was quickly reminded of many incidents from the current administration that lessened any possible guilt on my part.
While I can agree that it is not easy being president of any nation, it would be foolhardy to ignore that most presidents, for whatever their reasons, actively seek out the position. As such, they should be fully aware of the consequences of that decision and the pressures that will come to bear. By all accounts, Yar'Adua was hand selected by former President Obasanjo to succeed as President and Yar'Adua campaigned diligently for the position. Consequently, I unfortunately have a hard time feeling sorry for him.
I once wrote a post title "Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For" in which I cautioned that a lot of the pressure many Nigerians had placed on Yar'Adua regarding his ability to be an effective leader, likely influenced his violent reaction in 2008 when bloggers Asiwe and Elendu were arrested, Channels TV was shut down and Leadership's staff were arrested and later sued (thankfully, the court threw out the President's case). Although I can understand that when a mere mortal feels threatened, he/she is capable of reacting irrationally and violently, I find it hard to dismiss the aggressively negative actions of this administration with regard to civil liberties to a "He felt threatened" analysis. Again, President Yar'Adua knew exactly what he was getting into and notwithstanding the pressures he faces, he is under a constitutional obligation to not violate the freedoms guaranteed to citizens and journalists.
And now that the President has officially been away from Nigeria for over 30 days - it is simply a travesty that a nation and its people are forced to go without a President on seat for such a considerable period of time.Still, President Yar'Adua who fashioned himself and his administration as the champion of the rule of law, has failed to follow the Constitution and handover temporary power to the Vice President. Instead, a President that has not been seen or heard publicly in over a month, is picking a Chief justice and citizens are not expected to question, criticize or outright condemn such clearly unethical actions that in any sane nation would be illegal and unconstitutional. Maybe some Nigerians are too tough on Yar'Adua, but in all fairness, much more Nigerians need to get tougher!
Yes, the job of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not an enviable position, unless one is simply interested in lining their pockets. But, the job of President comes with much responsibility and anyone in that position must expect his or her actions and inactions to be carefully scrutinized and publicly questioned. Emotions and sentiments have little to do with it.
From The Archives:
- Much Ado Over a Nickname?
- Of Pilgrimage, Hajj & Nigerians
- Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Turning Away From From 'Democracy'