Politics Of Death And Ill-Health By Zainab Suleiman 0kino



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Shortly after the death of Patrick Yakowa and Owoeye Andrew Azazi in a helicopter crash, condolences began to pour in. Politicians began to compete for spaces on the pages of newspapers to register their sympathies and commiserations. One of those in the early lead came from the Enugu state Government House. It was entitled ‘Chime condoles with Yakowa, Azazi’s families’. This information jolted many, who had thought the press release was signed by the governor himself. It turned out that the statement was signed by the commissioner of information, Chuks Ugwoke, and as usual it described the untimely death of the duo as ‘shocking, tragic, and a monumental loss’.

Governor Sullivan Chime has not been seen in the public in over three months. Obviously the man is indisposed and it must be serious enough. He has been rumoured dead several times, but it does appear that the man has many lives. Yet, his minders have shrouded the nature of his ill-health, the possibility of his return and when, in secrecy. Against this backdrop, is it not bizarre, that his aides who are the beneficiaries of his long absence were among the first to send condolences to the families of Yakowa and Azazi? What are they trying to prove? That the governor is hale and hearty, when all they needed to do is to come clean with the true situation, invoke the constitution to empower his deputy to act, while he takes over his job whenever he returns.

Meanwhile, and before we blame the governor, he was said to have transmitted a letter to the speaker of the State House of Assembly. However, instead of acting on the letter to transfer power successfully, some powerful forces, another cabal represented by the chief of staff has taken over the reigns of power, while the rest have resorted to divine intervention and prayers for the governor’s recovery and return. Unfortunately, because the right thing was not originally done, the state is now in a dilemma over the presentation of the 2013 budget. The de facto governor, the chief of staff, is not constitutionally empowered to do so. The world is closing in on them, unless Chime returns in the next few days. I pray he does, in good health.

But how could we allow history to repeat itself this way? Have we forgotten so soon how the country was dribbled over late President Yar’Adua’s health condition? The man himself became a victim of his cabal’s handiwork. As they manipulated and shielded him, the government’s integrity plummeted. A bed ridden, helpless and hapless Yar’Adua was either said to be watching football, jogging or eating tuwo. May his soul rest in peace.

In all these, the people who shield their principals from the watchful eyes of the public do so not out of affection for them. I dare say that they do not wish them well. They engage in the illegal acquisition of power for their own selfish end. And each time this act of impunity and lawlessness is allowed to endure, the country goes further down the abyss.


Thanks to Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue state, the truth about the health status of Danbaba Suntai of Taraba state is beginning to surface. Recall the governor had a near-fatal accident after the jet he piloted crashed, injuring him and his aides. He was later flown to Germany. Not even a visit by the PDP delegation, led by its chairman, Bamanga Tukur, was able to clear the air on the governor’s condition. The other day the state’s commissioner of information, Emmanuel Bello, in a futile attempt to refute Sahara Reporters’ report of the governor’s vegetative state, ended up with a mumbo-jumbo response to the online media’s request for clarity, all in an attempt to hang on to power on behalf of a man who may not even know what goes on around him. It was, therefore, a bold relief to read Suswam’s revelation in this newspaper last Monday. Suswam lamented Suntai’s critical and hopeless condition, revealing further that while on a trip to Germany recently, he was shocked by Suntai’s deteriorating health.

Again thank God for small mercies, the governor of Cross River state, Liyel Imoke, himself bed-ridden in the US, was reported to have formally handed over a written notice to the State House of Assembly and handed over to his deputy. Just when we thought the chaps in Cross River are doing a better job of their governor’s ill-health came a news item on Monday that a sick Imoke had ordered a shift in the state’s carnival dry run time. Common on! There should be exception to a national malaise please.

Because the people are left in the dark over their leaders’ health, speculations are often rife about death and the kind of ailments these people are afflicted with. In the case of Chime, there have been claims that he was afflicted with HIV/AIDS and liver or kidney diseases. Only his immediate family can say exactly what it is. It is not as if Nigerians are so unfeeling, so uncaring to wish death upon their leaders. Who can do such a thing, when we are all mortals; and we cannot tell when death will beckon on us too. Nigerians resort to speculations because the people in power prefer to live in denial. They take the followers for granted, and do not see the need to explain things as they are. What does it take for these characters to explain their principals’ health condition and in the process seek for prayers for them? When did sickness become an offence against God and man? Who is that human being that is immune and beyond life’s vicissitudes, one of which is ill-health? Honestly, it’s baffling, and this attitude cannot help to nourish democracy.

Finally, writing about this issue brings to mind the death of Kaduna state governor, Patrick Yakowa  and the report of jubilation in some quarters. Jubilation over someone’s death? What has happened to our shared humanity, the communality in mortality and our avowed belief in God? In reality, the jubilation is not over Yakowa’s passing. He was neither loathed in life nor death; it’s all politics, the politics of the distribution of power, of religion and ethnicism. It’s elites’ war; it is their battle… an endless battle that does no one any good.



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