The Guardian
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It takes little to complete a cycle


The Editor of the Guardian, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo

My very good friend Pius Mordi did a post on FaceBook. I have sought and secured his permission to reproduce same.

“Why are Americans so naïve? John McCain, a genuine war hero was diagnosed of brain cancer and they (Americans) quickly announced it to the whole world. They should have hidden the nature of his ailment and just tell the world he is hale and hearty. Some prayer warriors should have been paid to pray for his quick recovery, public holidays declared for workers in his home state to pray for him and whisk him to some European country for proper medical care. Now without prompting, everybody is sending goodwill messages to McCain.” He ended with another interrogation: “Can’t Americans learn from us?”

This difficult road called ‘Ailing President’ is not unfamiliar. We went through it with late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. What I can see however from the events of today is that we just jumped onto the uncharted route without a clear compass and when forward movement became impossible, we simply reached for a vehicle called ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ in which we got to destination after which went to sleep until this second journey with President Muhammadu Buhari. In the first journey, to be fair to Buhari, he had provided an alternate compass. Instead of beating about the bush, he asked for the invocation of the relevant sections of the Constitution so that the clearly incapacitated Yar’Adua could be substituted for the country to move forward.

And when someone in the crowd of Yar’Adua said health is a private matter and that whatever ailment that was plaguing the President should not be made part of the national discourse, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections, did better than the Nazi minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, said President Yar’Adua was a public property and nothing about his life, including health should be hidden from the public arena.

That was then. There has been a transition which has caused Buhari, Lai Mohammed and almost everybody in that former glorious camp, including former NADECO and Due Process front liners such as Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and even Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof Itse Sagay and the one often described as fiery Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, to act differently or remain markedly out of their known character. All the latter day statements of especially Lai Mohammed and President Buhari which contradicted their earlier positions on the same subject of ill health of a Nigerian president and capacity to continue in office are in the public space and do not need repetition here. But by way of guide, I shall add that Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose (he is well known) made a show of these contradictory statements in a newspaper advertisement recently. For further information, feel free to call Fayose on his mobile line.

Beyond views on the ill health of the President, there have been other contradictory statements by these crusaders of good society. For instance, while the only song in the political air waves had been restructuring of the polity for a better federation, the APC which purportedly had that item in its manifesto, had maintained an ominous silence until last week when the party, as if in a deep slumber all along, woke up to the reality of the moment and inaugurated a committee headed by Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to look into the issue. In fact, before last week’s event, the party’s national chairman, Chief Odigie-Oyegun had said, with the confidence of a sage, that restructuring, which is about the only issue in progressive politics in Nigeria, is no longer desirable in the progressive camp.

As I speak, I know of some 70-year old senior citizens itching to study law to acquire the understanding to counter Prof. Itse Sagay and Mr. Femi Falana on points of law. They sincerely wish to be in a stead to know whether or not the National Assembly under the current arrangement has powers to confirm presidential appointments before such appointments can take effect. They say Prof and the Lagos-based fiery lawyer have been making it look as if both of them are the sole custodians of the only true copy of the constitution where it is written that Nigeria is operating a different hue of the popular American presidential system called ‘Presidential Monarchy.’

When it is suitable, these crusaders would bring sterling examples of American system to bear heavily on operations in Nigeria. And in doing so, they would choose not to appreciate the variables that define the two climes. For instance, Prof Sagay would say, if it is right for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in America to sting serving judges of the American Supreme Court in the interest of the state, without a court order in the middle of the night, there should be no public out-cry if the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigerian equivalent of FBI, does same in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the same Sagay, who defended to high heavens the nocturnal invasion of hapless judges by the DSS, forgot to invoke the infallibility of the DSS when it came to the matter of the confirmation of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu by the Senate. The DSS, which is ably equipped for the purpose had written to the Senate that the appointment of Magu as substantive head of the EFFC should not be confirmed for reasons it outlined and the Senate agreed. But Prof. Sagay and lately another professor of law who is also the Acting President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, are saying that it is either the Senate does the confirmation in spite of the DSS report or Magu will continue in a substantive role because the Presidency no longer needs the confirmation for Magu to serve.

Till date, neither he nor anybody has said that the DSS and the National Assembly can do to Buhari what the FBI and Congress are doing to Donald Trump in the US. Regarding the appointment of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), it was Sagay too who said the President could act outside precedents, even when there was no compelling reason, to pick a CJN outside the justices of the Supreme Court. If we are to follow strictly Sagay, every rule will be bent for Buhari because he (Buhari) has promised to combat corruption with a team of his kinsmen.

The sun is so large that about 1.3 million earths can fit into it comfortably. Yet, at a prodigious distance of about 150 million kilometers away, it takes only 365 days, six hours, 15 minutes and 41 seconds for the earth to orbit the magnificent sun. The point I am making is that the day of reckoning is usually nearer than we think. This is why we must be mindful of creating unsustainable precedents for the convenience of the moment. It does not take too long to finish a cycle and get back to the starting point. In less than seven years, a cycle of political demagoguery has been completed and the protagonists of yester years have changed roles to become the antagonists of today. And life continues.

Even now, if nothing is done to lay a clear path, our tomorrow shall present nothing different from our today and yesterday; and otherwise beacons of hope such as Prof. Itse Sagay would be forced into this periodic and embarrassing public display of intellectual cross-purposes.

I return briefly to Pius Mordi. Whereas there is so much to learn from the politics of principles, there is absolutely nothing for the Americans or others to learn from the politics of deceit in Nigeria.

In the main, let’s continue to wait for Buhari whom Osinbajo has said is recuperating fast and will be back at his desk in Aso Rock Villa very soon. Isha’Allah the waiting is not going to be in the sense of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot!

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