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Turai Yar'Adua vs Nigeria: Enough is enough
The sina adedipe colum
Wednesday, March 3, 2009
Last week Monday when I was writing last week's column: 'Time Yar'Adua resigns or faces impeachment trial,' I thought we had had the worst insult the president's wife could inflict on Nigerians by refusing to allow members of the National Assembly officially sent by their colleagues from seeing her husband in the Jeddah hospital he had been in Saudi Arabia since he left the country on November 23, last year.

If anyone had told me Mrs. Turai Yar'Adua who I understand has at least a National Certificate of Education (NCE) academic qualification to her name could come up with the bizarre behaviours she put on display last week Wednesday and for the rest of the week, I would have said it was not possible so have such even from an illiterate First Lady of the most under-developed or primitive country in the world of the twenty - first century. I never thought or imagined that the wife of the president of a nation however irascible or power mongering she is can behave insolently to an acting head of state put in place by the country's National Assembly or parliament.

I would have thought that a First Lady should know that someone officially designated as acting head of state and has executive powers is the Number One Citizen of the country until the substantive president returns to work with the sanction of the parliament that appointed the person acting as president. I would have thought that Mrs Yadr'Adua would know that any insult she passed on Acting- President Goodluck Jonathan was wrought not on him as a person alone, but on the National Assembly which invested him with authority and collectively on all the people of Nigeria who through an election delegated sovereign power to the legislators and the president.

Honestly, I think Mrs. Yar'Adua needs medical attention as her husband's health predicament in the last two years and especially in the last three months might have led to depression, mental exhaustion or something worse. How can somebody of a stable mind bring in a sick husband and the president of a nation into a country he presides over without informing the acting - president and his cabinet to welcome him at the airport? Or bring a sick president of a country back home and not take him into a hospital but will keep him in an ambulance for days? President Yar'Adua was still in the ambulance as at two days ago when I was writing this piece. If the story that the United States and United Kingdom authorities forced Saudi Arabia to eject President Yar'Adua from their country, should his wife on returning home not have checked him into the National Hospital in Abuja or any other one in the country. Or instead of bringing him home should she not have relocated him to a country in Europe like Russia Union, or other locations in the world like Cuba, Iran or Yemen whose governments America or Britain cannot dictate to.

I believe Mrs. Yar'Adua chose to return her husband to the country to live inside an ambulance because she naively thought his physical presence in Nigeria even in a vegetable state shows that he is still the president of the country and that Dr. Jonathan automatically ceases to be acting -president. And that any message from President Yar'Adua by word of mouth or through a document purportedly signed by him even if done by another person impersonating him, must be obeyed and carried out by government official. But by refusing to allow anybody including Acting-President Jonathan from seeing her husband, Mrs. Yar'Adua does not want Nigerians to know that her husband is in such a terrible condition in which he can either not talk or sign a document because he is paralyzed or unconscious as rumours have it.

If Mrs. Yar'Adua had allowed the acting-president and other cabinet members see her husband the worst that can happen to him is for the Federal Executive Council with two-thirds majority approval to write the National Assembly to send five medical doctors including the president's physician to examine him as required by Section 144 of the 1999 Constitution. If they say he is not well enough to continue to rule the country they can recommend that the vice-president be made acting -president until her husband is fit to return to perform his duties. Or they could recommend he resigns or to be placed on impeachment trial if he refuses to throw-in the towel.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the one who through strong - arm tactics got Yar'Adua to be Peoples Democratic Party's candidate in 2007 and he rigged the presidential election for him to become his successor. He saw him on his sick bed in Jeddah late in December last year or early January and shortly after returning home he advised him to resign because of his sickness. That meant President Yar'Adua was then in a position to have signed a letter of resignation. That is what he should have done as three prime ministers in Britain did when their health necessitated doing so. President Fidel Castro of Cuba, a dictator who came into power on January 1, 1959 through armed revolution did so three or four years ago when he had intestinal problems for which he underwent surgery which rendered him incapable of continuing to govern his country.

Sir Winston Churchill did the same thing in April 1, 1955, a year to the ending his five - year second term as Britain's prime minister, when he had cerebral arteriosclerosis and suffered four attacks of stroke. Mr. Harold Macmillan followed his example when he resigned as prime minister on Friday, October 18, 1963, a year before his second tenure was to terminate when he was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, but which after he left office turned out to be an incorrect diagnosis.

Sixty-year-old Mr. Harold Wilson who was not known to be ill took Britain by surprise on Tuesday, March 16, 1976 three years before his second term was to run out when he announced he would leave office in three weeks time on Monday, April 5 because he said he had always planned on resigning at the age of 60 and because he was physically and mentally exhausted. People years later thought Wilson did so because his doctors might have told him he was in the early - onset of Alzheimer's disease which later made him to lose his excellent memory and power of concentration. Because he was the first British premier to resign without being ill Queen Elizabeth II went to dine with Mr. Wilson at 10, Downing Street, the official residence of British prime ministers. Becoming the second premier the Queen would so honour after Churchill. She was at 10 Downing Street in 2006 at the invitation of Prime Minister Tony Blair who feted her to mark her majesty's 80th birthday anniversary.

Churchill lived nine years more after resigning to take proper care of himself dying on January 24, 1965 at the age of 90. MacMillan lived 23 years more after leaving office passing on on December 29, 1986 at 92 years and Harold Wilson lived for 19 years transiting in 1995 at the age 79. Fidel Castro is still alive at the age of 83, three or four years after he resigned as president. Following the examples of these four reasonable leaders who placed their nations interest above their clinging to power when their health was bad may also help prolong the life of President Yar'Adua. Not doing so two years ago when he broke down and went to Saudi Arabia for treatment for a month in 2008 is what has caused his present problem and the sorry situation he has found himself in the last three months or so.

If President Yar'Adua can no more sign a letter of resignation because he is paralyzed or has become a vegetable as rumours have it and his wife is not enamoured with remaining as First Lady until the end of her husband's tenure on May 28, next year, I have a recommendation for her on how spouse can leave office honourably.