Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Analysis on why Yar'Adua and his handlers chose to return to Nigeria in the darkness of February 24th is now available in Why Nigeria's Yar'Adua Returned. Please read that after this post.

On the day Goodluck Jonathan sent his first letter as acting President to the National Assembly, it seems Nigeria's Yar'Adua returned from Saudi Arabia. Apparently, he returned on a Saudi air ambulance which was accompanied by the Presidential jet and landed in a secluded part of the runway at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Already, residents of his home state Katsina, have taken to the streets in jubilation. Unfortunately, the return occurred late at night, lighting was dimmed on the tarmac and with no public sighting of Yar'Adua spurring many questions as to his current condition and what impact his return will have on Nigerian politics.

Yar'Adua has been gone from Nigerian for 3 months and during that time, his absence created a political vacuum. There was confusion over whether the Vice President could employ executive power without a letter from the President handing over said power, an interpretation of Section 145 of the constitution. After various court cases, rumors that the President was either dead or brain damaged and much hand wringing, a remedy was found. The Senate and House of Representatives, with the support of state governors and a diverse group of Nigerians, issued separate motions declaring Vice President Jonathan the acting President. The move was well received by many but its legality was soon questioned when the Senate President stated that an interview given by Yar'Adua to the BBC Hausa service was interpreted to satisfy Section 145.

In the motions making Jonathan the acting President, legislators specified that Yar'Adua must prove his competence in order to return to his role of President. Now that he is allegedly back in the country, it is only reasonable to wonder whether he will honor that legislative requirement by proving his capacity. To do so, an audio interview, such as that which he gave to the BBC Hausa Service, will be insufficient. Yar'Adua must not be seen in a staged television program but he must appear in public at least before the National Assembly and this sighting must be broadcast to the nation and the world.. Hopefully, he and his supporters will not instead demand the immediate return of executive powers or simply declare that he has executive power. Yar'Adua has frequently called himself a "servant leader"committed to the 'Rule of Law', so maybe he will choose to act accordingly.

Considering his refusal to inform the country about his condition and absence, plus the fact that a 'promise' to send a formal letter was never honored, it is possible that he will face a battle to regain the Presidency. Legislators can simply accuse him of dishonoring the spirit of the Constitution. That would buttress the push by various civic organizations and even some legislators to have Yar'Adua impeached.

But, then again, Yar'Adua could simply resign from office in a very dignified manner and take the time to recover and spend with his family. This possibility would definitely be a surprise for Nigerians who are used to leaders holding onto power. Also, the general attitude, right or not, is that between the First Lady and northern elites, Yar'Adua will not have the option of resignation. Only time will tell.

The above possibilities rest on the notion that Yar'Adua has returned in a position to regain Presidential power. But, the secrecy with which he allegedly returned encourages the rumors of his death or physical/mental incapacity. Being that he was not seen during this return, nor was he seen by various delegations sent to Saudi Arabia, it will not take long for many to suggest that he has returned to either die in Nigeria (and not a foreign land)or that he is already dead. If it is the case that he is dead or even dying, then Section 146(1) will kick in and Jonathan will be sworn in as President. He will then have to nominate a Vice Presidential candidate that must be selected by both bodies of Parliament (Section 146 (3)(c)). As no one yet knows his condition of plans, the entire nation will be on edge until more information is revealed.

While serving as acting President, Goodluck Jonathan shuffled Ministers, met with foreign dignitaries from the European Investment Bank and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. Jonathan was even made chair of ECOWAS, a position formerly held by Yar'Adua. Being that the United States congratulated Jonathan and praised Nigeria for its "democratic handover, it will be interesting to learn that nation's reaction to Yar'Adua's return.

Of import is whether a return of Yar'Adua to the Presidency will lead to retribution on those who wanted him to handover power or wanted him impeached. Many public figures weighed in on the debate, such as poet Wole Soyinka, Dora Akunyili the Minister of Information and Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's former President who handpicked Yar'Adua as his successor. The days ahead will likely only lead to more questions. Particularly intriguing is whether or not Yar'Adua will return the deposed former Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, to his previous position. The cabinet of Ministers is set to meet later and Yar'Adua's alleged return is bound to make an already acrimonious atmosphere worse during the meeting. Ministers like Akunyili who supported a transfer of power might be forced to backpedal depending on Yar'Adua's next move. Also a proposal to amend Section 145 will likely be delayed what with this new development and the proponents might begin to wonder about the future of their proposal and their future.*

Already some assert that Yar'Adua's return was to ensure that power remains in the hand of a northerner. The concerns of Nigeria's elite over a possible return of Presidential power to the South is well documented. The Northern Union warned that the "stability of [the] country [which] is hinged [on] power rotation between the North and the South."

The reality is that northerners and southerner have been very vocal in advocating a handover to the Vice president. Thus, even if Yar'Adua's return is simply in the interest of holding onto power, qualifying the return as a Northern power plot would be premature. Besides, at this point very little is officially known about why Yar'Adua returned and whether or not he is capable of being President. Consequently, it is better to not jump to conclusions that only stoke tensions, but rather see what unfolds.

Whatever the case may be, one can only hope that the relative political quiet created with the declaration of an acting President, will not be lost. To achieve this, it is imperative that more information be revealed about Yar'Adua's return. Failure to do so could force a return to the confusion and crisis Nigerians experienced for exactly 79 days. So, while this is another "siddon look" (wait and see) situation, Yar'Adua would be well advised to remember that the Nigerian people rejected that option while he was away. Collectively, they compelled action. To ignore that reality would be foolhardy, something Yar'Adua, assuming he is well, cannot afford to do.

* The proposal to amend Section 145 went ahead in the Senate. Please see Why Nigeria's Yar'Adua Returned for a detailed analysis of this matter.

As this situation is in flux and likely to change, updates will follow. Please watch this space.

UPDATED (7:00 AM): BBC Latest - "Ailing Nigerian leader will not take part in cabinet meeting, top official say"

UPDATED (8:58 AM): Yar'Adua wants Vice President to remain acting President while he recovers

From the Archives:
- Why Nigeria's Yar'Adua Returned
- Constitutionality Of The Acting President
- Goodluck Jonathan Is Nigeria's Acting President
- Is Yar'Adua Brain Damaged Or Not?
- Nigeria's President Absent During Crisis
- Yar'Adua Health, Resignation & Nigerian Cost
- More Yar'Adua Health Uncertainty
- Yar'Adua Health, Resignation & Nigerian Cost
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health

20 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Beauty said...

A very dangerous game is in play and I am going to scream until my lungs bleed. Our leaders are a joke and have become irrelevant.

Cee said...

Well Next latest update says the vice-president's office is being ransacked by SSS. I can't believe that this is going on. It just doesn't make sense. I am watching the live vote (I think it is live) at the NASS on constitional review. They seem to think it's all a huge joke. Only God now, only God.


@ Beauty: It is befuddling why he returned, at this moment in time, but he has a right to come home. The only issue is whether he has a right to the Presidency. Now that his office has announced that Jonathan is to remain acting President, that at least will stem the growing disquiet. But reports that Jonathan is "meeting" with Turai, and not the President, well, that just does not look good and raises more questions than answers about Yardy's condition.

Thanks so much for stopping by, today is bound to be an interesting day.

@ Cee: The NEXT website has been hard to access the last 9 hours (trust me, I've been up). As a consequence, I am yet to see that news story about the ransacking. Thanks for mentioning the vote, I wish I could find a stream online. Will begin to search.

Thanks so much for swinging by and please continue to share whatever information you read/see as it will be informative to all of us. Thanks again.

sokari said...

Thanks SS for getting this out in such a timely way. Friends - I am sorry this man is sick and on a personal level I wish him well. But as the president this is a joke. He arrives in the middle of the night on a medical plane - no one sees whether he his standing sitting or lying flat on a gurney. As Beauty says this is a dangerous game. My suspicions are that his cartel or mafia backers demanded his return immediately in whatever condition. Until I see the man addressing the nation on his own two feet then I will continue to suspect foul play.

I am also sick of Nigeria being turned into a laughing stock - first we were branded collective criminals because of a few 419ers; then terrorists by a misguided fool in y-fronts and now a President that disappears for 3 months then returns in the dead of night.

Anonymous said...

Is there any online website that shows videos of Nigerian news?

Corruption is at its best in Nigeria.

Beauty said...

S, it is shocking to see that we have barely moved in Abuja. Arriving in the dead of the night like a common thief? It is no longer acceptable to just siddon look. Those that can should get back out and those writers had better melt the keyboards. And to those that do not get it. You may not like the international community except China but there are bigger problems facing the world than this sick joke. It is very difficult to come back from being an irrelevant country as new tech makes oil so.

Anonymous said...

This shows that Nigeria cannot remain on nation.
Let the northerners rule themselves and the south rule themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hope Yar will not allow himself to be used by this Northern arrangement stuff. He needs tiem to recover I am sure and he needs to appear in public if trully he is well enough to return to the office. Failure to do so, means to the left!

- O. A. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

SSD, I hope to put my thoughts down properly in a blog post later on but for now i'll say that
this nonsense has made me so angry!!! I don't believe that Yar Adua is in any condition to make decisions much less return to the presidency so all this manoeuvring is coming from somewhere else.

How dare these people (and allegedly the First lady is playing a key role in this) act like the leadership of the country is something to be toyed with? They don't care about the potential consequences of their actions in a country where things are interpreted from a tribalistic stand-point, they don't care that they might divide the country badly, that they might destroy public peace and order or that they are holding the lives of millions of people in the balance. Is there a way to hold them legally responsible for interfering with the democratic process?

To Anon2: Let's not make this into a North-South thing because so far we know that people from all regions are included in the group that has enabled this fiasco to continue. This matter is down to the greed and impunity of those irresponsible persons. The chaotic situation that exists now really does not benefit Nigerians outside this group regardless of where in the country they are from.

Anonymous said...

...while the clauses in the Nigerian Constitution (which is obviously flawed) with respect to removing (impeaching, incapacitating et al) a sitting President must have been done to avoid a situation where we will be changing Presidents as we so desire per time; i think we are iconising Yaradua (& his associated cohorts).

The Nigerian Presidency is not a monarcial system and the early those in power realise it the better. If Jonathan likes, let him keep threading with 'care' hoping not to upset the 'balance', history will definitely not be lenient with him if he FAILS to leave his (positive) footprint in the sand of time.

Tai -Osagbemi Boma said...

how does he prove his competence?
do we tell him to run a 100m race?
he is a very sick man who should not be even remotely close to the helm of power.
he is about 40kg right now !! you can read the rest at

RE-Entrepod said...

Sista Sydelle all I can say is wow wow wowwww, bombshell with a buncha questions.

he rolls in on an air ambulance followed by the presidential jet. bad sign.

then he does it at night without anyone seeing even a hair of his arrival. second bad sign.

he sends word that mr. goodhat should continue to run the show whilst he recouperates. very bad sign.

this reminds me of a very badly staged off broadway play being done by jamaicans directed by nigerians for an american audience.

Whooooooooo HA ! which general is in charge now is all I want to know. because if they tell me abacha has been reconstituted I'd belive it; and immediately subscribe for episode two. this drama is not only thick, it's juicy.

Oh Laaaaawd !

Mrs Sweetwater said...

Dear Sista where is the link to me ? I am so sad to not see me there as I am linked to you and dynamically showing your posts updated daily. you are one of my favorite blogs and you always get my comment and my reading daily.

this is the best african women written political blog in the blogosphere. and a badgal said that.

abtw do you think that yardy has his internet reading him the blogs to keep up with what is being said about him ? it would not suprise me if he had his laptop with a reader so when he opens the page it begins to read to him.

He's got it like that (wink*wink) since he's president you know. Oh wait, is he still president? aaaahhhhhhhhh whoooo knowwwwwsssss.

Gold said...

I really love reading posts that has lots of knowledge to impart. I admire those writers who share the best of their knowledge in writing such articles. Keep up the good work and continue inspiring readers.Thank you so much.

Chris Ogunlowo said...

First, I must commend you for taking your time to make this post.

We’ve found ourselves in a very laughable situation. This is shenanigan at its worst-best. What do we have now, the politics of a dying president?

Clearly, we are not governed by the people headlining our newspapers. I agree with Sokari that there’s a cartel, a strong oligarchy whose purpose it is to treat the constitution with utmost disrespect with the selfish certainty of usurping Nigeria’s stability. Well, not-so-firm stability.

Nigeria’s present problem is not Yardy’s sickness or his wife who thinks it takes sheer volition of brainlessness to play Eva Peron. The problem is that clique of people who are ready to trade Yardy’s life at all cost for their stupid agenda.

These are trying times. This is insanity. The question is: Where are the oppositions? What happened to civil disobedience? I’ve just read a note on Facebook by Chxta, and I agree that “if we prove so spineless as to let some twits hold the entire nation to ransom, then what we get, we deserve”.

My advice for him will be that he should take General Obasanjo’s advice by taking “the path of honour”, perhaps, to sip on hemlock. History will honour him. By that, he will get a well-deserved immortality, something god-like. He can be sure that activists will rally on his behalf for The National Hospital, Abuja, to be named after him.

I’m tired. This is a crazy country!

Sugabelly said...

Nigeria's government might be non-functioning, and I'm cool with that, I am however, VERY WORRIED that this will affect the BUSINESS CLIMATE in Nigeria.

As a country we CAN survive if business can continue freely and capitalism can thrive because either way private enterprises can provide most of the services that our stupid government seems incapable of providing. However, if somehow the military gets involved and there are curfews and other things that endanger lives and disrupt the ability to do business freely then we are going to be seriously fucked.

Besides, have you seen the latest news? Turai is now President.

Anonymous said...

If this were chess, it would be called the 'Turai Gambit'; made by a very effective Queen in the event that her King is down and practically out. The Queen becomes King.

This move has created a stalemate on many fronts.

The Abuja High Court 14-day ultimatum on the ECof expires and about 15 ministers are said to have been served by the Court bailiffs to declare the President incapacitated as required by the Constitution. Something they had refused to do willingly.

The Senate is trying to amend s.145 of the Constitution to make the transmission of a letter mandatory and to give a 14-day window before the Presidency/Governorship is declared vacant. Next step, impeachment.

Bringing in a comatose President has stalemated any and every move that anybody may make right now. Whether from Goodie Jo, the Senate or even the Courts, nobody can do anything. Your President is back in the country. Too bad if you haven't seen him. The Constitution does not require him to make public appearances.

There cannot be two Presidents in a country, Goodie Jo ceases to be acting anything, the moment that plane landed. Now he is executing delegated authority.

Have you asked yourselves who ordered the two army battalions that secured the airport while the ambulance landed. Whoever ordered the troops, holds the balance of power. QED.

Come, all ye conquered peoples of Nigeria. Bow to your Ruler. Your President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria:

Her Excellency, Turai Umaru Yar'adua.


joicee said...

Have you heard the news about Madamne Turai and her antics?...pls,we would like your perpective on this.

I have often heard that the first lady is actually the mastermind behind most of the chaotic situation that has been going on for the last six months and that she persuaded her husband not to resign even earlier on as he began ailing.

Power is addictive...Turai has gotten a taste of it and she ain´t letting go...not on her watch. She will hold unto it until she can no more.

It seems that this situation is going into a downspiral and we are just seeing the begining of it. Im just sooo tired of it all.

Beauty said...

Somehow, I do not believe Turai has enough spunk to pull off the stunts being claimed on her behalf. The real players will eventually reveal themselves. My bet is on a few sad old men we all know too well. The poor dear is probably a hostage as much as her poor poor husband. The investments may or not flee from Nigeria but ending up on the list of Top 10 Most Dangerous Places on Earth is a horrible future

Nii said...

"stability of [the] country [which] is hinged [on] power rotation between the North and the South."

I appreciate the historical reasons behind this rotation. I can't help but wonder if at some point the ONLY criteria that should be taken into account when voting for leaders are those of character and competence.

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