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Today marks President Umaru Yar'Adua's 29th day at the intensive care unit of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

These are not auspicious times for throwing brickbats at the President who, for now, needs our fervent interventionist prayers for a quick recovery. It is morally indefensible to fight a man lying prostrate, almost unconscious, in an intensive care unit of a hospital. But Yar'Adua has held more tenaciously to the Presidency than to life. He has placed more premium on the Presidency than on his life. To him, life becomes secondary, as the Presidency takes the centre stage.

Even if the President falls into vegetative state, he will still rule Nigeria through the various jackals lurking in the wings. Even while still in intensive care, his sister argued that Mr. President was still physically fit (even with his voice gone) to rule Nigeria for 16 more years. The President's aged mother was not left out, as she categorically stated that she had not asked her son to resign. Nigerians must therefore prevail on, and educate the President's family on the need and constitutional necessity for their son to resign and save his life first and foremost.

It is unfortunate that Nigerian leaders always flout the constitution with impunity and do only those things that emblazon their power and authority at the expense of every other Nigerian. For instance, Yar'Adua has not officially written to the National Assembly briefing them of his incapacitation for almost a month he has been away in Saudi Arabia. The National Assembly, which is about 80 percent PDP-controlled, has turned a blind eye to this impeachable offence being flagrantly perpetuated by the President who has been Away Without Official Leave. In the civil service and even in the military, this is a serious offence, which is tantamount to desertion and is punishable by summary dismissal.

The President's tenacious hold on power, even at such a critical stage of a terminal illness, is profoundly confusing, unreasonable and ill-advised. It is an unfortunate unconstitutional practice, a gross abuse of office and a slap on the face of all Nigerians.

It is revealing to note that in the heat of these disturbing and unusual circumstances, the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, remains characteristically calm, humble and dignified. He has gone through this before, during the Ex-Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha saga. But today, the situation is not the same. The nation demands that the VP takes full charge of the country's affairs until the ailing President returns from Saudi Arabia. This is what the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria demands. And the nation asks for no less than this.

Nigeria deserves a strong leadership in Abuja to steer the ship of the state to berth in safe harbour. Nigeria demands defined leadership instead of this leadership-by-a-consortium-of-opportunists, cabals, jackals and cartels. A country wallowing in the throes of economic woes needs an endowed, patriotic and God-fearing leader to steer it to the Promised Land.

The cabals and jackals are waiting for such debilitating signs as this to pounce on and finish off this great and economically endowed country. The cabals and cartels had already taken over Yar'Adua's government ab initio. The President had, on two occasions, raised alarm about the existence of these cabals in the socio-economic bloodstream of this country.

In January 2009, the President's media chief, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, dropped the first bombshell. He said, “The Federal Government has uncovered a strong cabal sabotaging electricity in Nigeria.” He went further to say, “it benefits this strong cabal for the power sector to malfunction”

Surprisingly, during the May/June deregulation crises, the President 'shocked' the nation by announcing that there was a cabal destabilizing the downstream sector of the oil industry. This was when he was hale and hearty. He was criticized by his party big wigs for this “unguarded candour” coming from the President.

As far back as January 2009 and in June of the same year, our President had identified two different cabals sabotaging the two major sectors of the Nigerian economy – the power and petroleum sectors. The shocking and mystifying aspect of the whole drama is that till date, the President and his government have not made any attempt to unmask these powerful and untouchable kingpins.

What hope is there for the average Nigerian if our President is handi-capped from performing his functions by a cabal he knows so well but is unable to discipline? What hope is there for Nigeria if the President is, even in his healthiest days, being controlled by cabals and forces more powerful than him?

This tantamount to ignorance or cowardice on the part of the President if he does not comprehend the enormous and awesome powers invested on him by the Constitution. The Constitution has empowered him and his officials to unmask and decisively deal with such cabals once and for all. So, now that the President is bed-ridden and the VP is not empowered to function in an acting capacity, Nigeria has, by omission or commission, been fully surrendered to those cabals, cartels and jackals.

I wish President Yar'Adua speedy recovery to good health, but he must empower the VP to act with full powers while he is still sick. Nigeria is already in the hands of the oil and power cabals. A vacuum will make us sink deeper into the mire of economic and political oblivion.

Nanaghan is at [email protected]

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