Mr. President, while you were away… By Zainab Suleiman Okino
Mr President, I heartily welcome you back. Those who saw the Yar’Adua scenario in your case were disappointed, at least for now. All of us will face death at God’s appointed time not man’s as it were. I’m equally excited that the ship of state was not derailed in your absence. For those who believe in you and want you to succeed, your departure to London for a medical leave and the rumour mongering around you created apprehensions. All that is in the past now. However from the perspective of an onlooker, it is trite to let you know what transpired in your absence.
First, hope was rekindled in the APC-led administration. Every unfortunate incident has a silver lining at the end. That was evident in your absence. Your detractors said, even in your first coming as head of state, you were not in charge and that your late deputy, Tunde Idiagbon was actually doing the work. The same mischief makers talked of Vice (or is he still Acting) President Osinbajo’s capacity which showed while you were away. Methink that is a good leadership trait that your detractors are not giving you credit for—I mean the ability to choose a competent deputy, who does well in your absence, as in the latest case or as it was alleged previously. Are we not witnesses to governors who choose weaklings as deputies, just so they can act as dictators without a whimper of challenge from them (their deputies).
Back to the developments that shaped the polity in your absence. Some of your vociferous critics are coming back to the fold. All is now silent on the South South front. The bombing of oil platforms and pipline vandalism have halted, while production output is rising. Acting President Osinbajo embarked on shuttle diplomacy to the South-South. The people of the region said he has succeeded where you failed and where you could not seize the opportunity to stem the tide of militancy. There was movement and ‘symbolic presence’ as Professor Farooq Kperogi, your erstwhile supporter turned critic put it. Osinbajo spoke, he gave hope and the people poured their hearts out. Mr. President, let the ongoing shuttle diplomacy continue to prevail, and beyond to the other parts of the country. Let the new spirit of engagement with stakeholders on all aspects of our national life continue.
Another done deal was the appointment and confirmation of Justice Onnoghen as substantive CJN which you failed to do before your medical vacation. Remember the political brouhaha that greeted his appointment in acting capacity, and then, you dithered for too long. Mr President, do you know that Mr Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) had six out of his 11 charges quashed by an Abuja Federal High Court. The ECOWAS court also discharged applications by the federal government against him. His supporters who defied the FG to celebrate the inauguration of President Donald Trump were discharged by a magistrate court in Porthacourt. Baba, do you know that IPOB members wore Jewish ensembles as they appeared in courts in Abuja and Porthacourt (proclaiming independence from Nigeria).Nobody made fuss about the event, so it came to pass. Who would have known a Kanu is rambling somewhere in one corner of the globe, if you had ignored him, if you had not turned the irredentist into an overnight hero?
Mr. President, your anti-corruption war somehow paid off while you were away. Andrew Yakubu, the former NNPC boss who received over $9 million as gift while over 90 million Nigerians lived on less than 9 dollars a day was found out. You may need to implore more gifting among Nigerians to make the wealth go round. One of the governors in the previous regime that you love to vilify, Gabriel Suswam was cought with over 20 CoFs, a cache of arms and munitions as well as millions of dollars in cash and keys of exotic car brands found in his possession. He is still keeping mum.
Remember the man who made the Customs a cesspool of corruption. I mean Inde Dikko, the former Comptroller General of Customs. Over 17 exotic cars were found in his warehouse and millions of cash in foreign currency. Baba, please dig further to know how many more houses and cars and how much more cash are still in his possession. Even James Ibori, who left London before you returned to a rousing welcome also got a rousing welcome. Imagine! His home in Ogara has become a Mecca for some politicians. But while you were away, Bala James Ngilari, who had a brief stint as Adamawa governor became the first high profile individual to be convicted under your anti-corruption war and was sentenced to five years in prison by a Yola High Court without an option of fine. This was hitherto unheard of; need we remind your detractors.
Your spokesperson Femi Adesina did a lot to ward off ‘mischief makers’ but there was little he could do about Gov Fayose who insisted you might not be hale and hearty. We saw you in many photos and you spoke to many people including Donald Trump, but I hope you told him to stop harassing Nigerians. Why didn’t you speak to Fayose? By the way agencies of government and state governments expended huge sums of tax payers’ money to organize prayers for your recovery, thereby falling into their old profligate way.
Finally, the PDP is still fighting for its soul with Sheriff and Makarfi ready for a showdown at the Supreme Court. But there could be APDP for you to also contend with if it scales INEC hurdle. Meanwhile, INEC is yet to recover all the money allegedly given to their officials by Gov Wike while we await how the N123 million recovered will help Nigerians keep body and soul alive. Oh! I almost forgot, INEC just announced a new date for the 2019 presidential election to according to them, avoid uncertainty but I do hope you are not part of their uncertainty.