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Have you seen UMYA?
By Uche Ezechukwu
Monday, March 08, 2010
The one most important item on the national agenda for the past two weeks seems to have been the whereabouts of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua who purportedly returned to Nigeria 13 days from Saudi Arabia under the thick cover of darkness. He has remained out of sight and out of hearing to all, except perhaps to the once-upon-a-time trusted Olusegun Adeniyi, his chief media aide. For Adeniyi to have quoted the president so authoritatively and by so doing, risked arraignment for treasonable felony for withdrawing the apex authority from the acting president, he must have taken a direct dictation from his boss.

In the midst of all these tense agitations over who has seen Yar'Adua and who has not, I wish to ask what many Nigerians could regard as a 'stupid' question: 'How has UMYA's invisible status affected the ability of every other person from doing his or her job?' My take is that having been proclaimed the acting president with full apex executive powers by the National Assembly, there is hardly any need for anybody to care even whether Yar'Adua is in Nigeria or the moon. The fact that has continued to bother me is why Nigerians have refused to live down the fact that until the ailing Yar'Adua transmits a letter to the National Assembly, showing in word and deed, that he is capable of taking back and doing his job, he remains a private citizen, like all the ex-presidents in Nigeria, like Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo. I have never read or heard of anybody bothering about Shagari's health or whereabouts.

I am reminded that Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, who went into coma in 2006 and was replaced by his deputy, has remained on life support and I have not read of any Israeli bothering about his whereabouts or kicking to see him. Meanwhile, Israel has continued to function, and has had two prime ministers (Olmert and Netanyahu) ever since. The emphasis now should be on getting Nigeria back to work. We should, therefore, allow the family of a former president, who is for now, a private citizen, to cater for him and take decisions they consider right and appropriate about him. Should that be asking too much?

We should rather be concerned about the right measures to bring about permanence to the fluid situation a president acting indefinitely. That should be the utmost concern of the members of the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly. That, to my mind, should be more crucial than the current busybody squabbles and bickering over sighting the ex-president.

In a recent interview with Newsweek, President Olusegun Obasanjo, among other things, remarked that, 'I don't believe a 'permanent' acting president is a permanent solution, so I think more steps have to be taken.' I see myself agreeing with Obasanjo for this once.

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