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Lessons from Yar’Adua’s death


SIR: When the former president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died, I heard on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that peoples all over the world try to avoid saying something unedifying about a dead person. Indeed, the Yoruba have a saying to the effect that a person becomes an idol upon death, meaning that only the good deeds of a dead person are recounted or spoken about.

I am not about to break the rule, even though nobody can know what some people are thinking or saying in secret places about a dead person. I also doubt that people will turn a killed armed robber into an idol, generally speaking. Beyond that, the Yoruba also have a saying that when a group of brothers and sisters are looking melancholic, it is most likely someone among them is saying bitter truth. At least I have heard someone, namely, Chief Audu Ogbe, commenting that the issue of the former president’s sickness was badly managed.

What was the fear telling your assistant you are going abroad for medical treatment, and that he should keep the boat afloat in your absence? Now by divine ordinance, the man is Nigeria’s President. And why were Nigerians, including the vice-president kept in the dark about the return of the president? Why was the vice president prevented from visiting the president in his sick bed, and uninformed of the actual condition of his boss?

I discovered that some Nigerians formed their own opinions. I overheard someone saying it was to make Nigerian responsible for Alhaji Yar’Adua medical bills. Personally, I sincerely doubt that Nigeria and the vice president would have turned the back against the president in any such circumstance.

Anyway, the game of distrust was played to its logical conclusion when the acting president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, declared the second day of Yar’Adua’s death a work-free day, but ensured his own enthronement as president early that same day. Yes, the enthronement was constitutional, but the timing might be different if the atmosphere of distrust did not pervade the air. Truth is, insincerity of purpose characterise the federal government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Any prospect of change for the better now? Only time and the PDP can tell.

Another hard lesson is that if Alhaji Yar’Adua knew that death would come so soon, he might have made haste to achieve much more than he did in close to three years as president of Nigeria, and he would not have resisted electoral reform. Remember that he instituted the Muhammed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee in 2007. Then he became reluctant about it all, giving spurious excuses. Yes, it was a PDP thing, but his name was at stake as the president, and he did not take any drastic step to implement the recommendations of the committee.

My final hard lesson is that a person should consider the state of his health before accepting certain positions of responsibility. Rightly or wrongly, I believe that social pressure aggravated Yar’Adua’s unstable health, since he had less room for managing his welfare, compared with when he was governor of Katsina State, which I guess is less than one-third of Oyo State. I stand to be corrected.

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