Nigeria had lost leaders while on National duty, but none since the brutal assassination of General Murtala Mohammed Feb 3, 1976, has the death of a Nigerian President evoked so much grief, inconsolable mourning, passion and above all unity, as did the death, last week Wednesday of the Servant-Leader, Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. (Allah Bless his soul).
Yar’Adua’s was indeed one death that is worth grieving over, not only by family and friends but even by those whose vigorous pursuit of their constitutionally allowed protests, tended, inadvertently though, to diminish the amount of pain, helplessness and a grueling battle a good man was waging against a fatal medical condition and by extension death.
At about 9pm that Wednesday, in his sick bed at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, an ailing Yar’Adua eventually lost the battle to death, after Soul-lifting assurances by Moslem clerics that the president was fast recuperating and would return soon to the work Nigerians entrusted to him, that of superintending the presidency of Africa’s biggest and most populous democracy. But Yar’Adua couldn’t, afterall and instead surrendered to death, apparently as a token of his usual selflessness, so that Nigeria that he had laboured to keep united, would not be divided by the politicking and avoidable grandstanding that evoked comments and actions over his protracted illness.
Earlier, he had been flown-out of the country to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Saudi Arabia Nov 23, last year, where Yar’Adua had been battling acute pericarditis, a medical term explaining inflammation of the outer coverings of the human heart. According to informed medical opinion, the President might have died of cardiac complications arising from the ailment.
Ordinarily, those were moments Nigerians would have willingly shared and empathised with their President, knowing that ill-health is neither an example of gross misdemeanor nor should it be seen as a criminal offence.
But the poor and phoney information management by handlers of Yar’Adua’s health rather than unite Nigerians behind a goodman, helped to heat-up the system and contributed to the diminishing of the import that ought to have been attached to his condition, the pains, the trials, and the tribulations before his eventual death.
For instance, the medical team made a secret of the president’s health condition, forgetting that Nigerians had as much right to such information as it did, even if, granted that Yar’Adua was first of all a husband, father and a Moslem.
These are not times for the blame game, but man must note the mistakes of the past, learn from the present and avoid any repeat in the future, for, without such retrospection, it would be easy to willfully vilify or even demonise civil society groups and indeed all other progressive Nigerians who insisted and rightly too that the Nigerian constitution must be adhered to, no matter the circumstances.
For the records, at the time Yar’Adua was flown to Saudi Arabia, none could tell his medical condition and could not have been expected to follow all the requirements of section 145 of the constitution, that of handing over to his Vice President, since he was to be on a medical vacation.
Sadly, handlers of the President’s health and indeed his information managers chose instead, to hoodwink an already agitated citizenry with less than acceptable hints of their President’s medical condition. As if that was not damaging enough, the same clique, using Saudi security support denied all, especially key national officers, the desired access to see the ailing President. The list included cabinet ministers, then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed leadership of the National Assembly. The only valuable information concerning the president’s health was sourced from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News, where-in Yar’Adua was early this year, quoted as saying he was recuperating from a major heart problem.
And because Yar’Adua was a goodman, who could not be blamed for the poor management of information, concerning his health, the Senate sought a soft-landing, and eventually agreed to imploring the Doctrine of Necessity to empower Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to assume Presidential powers as Acting President, instead of declaring the substantive president incapacitated.
Strangely, the ailing President was flown back into the country at night, amidst tight military security without the knowledge of the Acting President, and Commander –in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, an event which the President’s health-handlers and close political associates intended to implore to diminish the legality of Jonathan’s new identity.
In fact, Yar’Adua’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr Segun Adeniyi, in pursuit of same agendum made a veiled reference to Jonathan as Vice President and went further to assure that the ailing president would return to his duties, the following week, after worshiping at the Abuja Central Mosque that Friday. The President never did.
Even so, Nigerians were hopeful that since he could as much as thank “Vice President” Jonathan for managing the presidency in his absence, he could as well address the nation or at least meet with both the Acting President and indeed leadership of the National Assembly. The ailing President never did.
Instead, some Moslem clerics and later Christian leaders were obliged audience with the ailing President, where they offered prayers for his quick recovery. Thereafter, leader of the Moslem clerics and Chief Iman of the Abuja Central Mosque confidently told Nigerians that Yar’Adua had handsake with them, joined them in prayers and even assured them of his quick recovery and timely return to presidential duties, the following week.
The timing of that statement almost truncated Jonathan’s attempt to infuse fresh blood into the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF), having dissolved the original cabinet, put in place by Yar’Adua
It was only days later that Nigerians came to terms with the fact that Yar’Adua required prayers from all and not merely those who had seen, prayed with him and later dazed the citizenry with half-truths, if not total lies.
Ordinarily, as former US secretary of state, Candolessa Rice rightly observed, the presidency is bigger than any one man and should therefore never be left stagnant, but because of the tremendous goodwill, love and compassion, Yar’Adua had earned in his dealings with others, virtually every attempt by civil society groups to insist on the invocation of section 144 of the constitution, required to declare the ailing President, permanently incapacitated were rebuffed. And rightly too because he was a Goodman, and not because the so-called cabal, who hoped to capitalise on Yar’Adua’s condition to govern Nigeria by proxy were more powerful but because of Yar’Adua’s lasting power of love, humility, selfless services, true statesmanship and indeed accommodating spirit that endeared him to many Nigerians, devoid of ethnic leanings, religion, political diversities and indeed cultures.
These are why, try as they could, to reduce Yar’Adua’s national appeal to a small ethno-religious tin-god, providence ended up exalting a good man and used his death to unite a people nearly torn-apart by human greed, political misadventurism and insatiable appetites.
As Nigerians together mourn Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, we must do so, always remembering his ever forgiving spirit which he often demonstrated during key national challenges, such as the pronouncement of amnesty to Niger Delta militants who had carried arms against the Nigerian state.
We should also learn from his preference for fairness, equity and justice as exemplified by his bold step of establishing the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry to address some of the issues that informed the rebels’ armed confrontation by standing behind his successor in trying to actualise Yar’Adua’s ideals.
My Agony is that once Jonathan starts pursuing these pro-active policies, grounded in the same virtues of fairness, equity and the need to give the Niger Delta the much desired sense of belonging, the same cabal, will see him as pursuing a Niger Delta agendum.
Methinks such vain talks, if they do come, should be jettisoned by President Goodluck Jonathan, because doing so will be the only way of living-out dreams of servant-leader Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to assuaging the pains of that group of Nigerians who have been giving far more to the centre than they can point to as dividends of their own sacrifices.
For a people’s true leader, I say, Fare-The-Well, Yar’Adua and to a worthy successor Jonathan, I say NYSC-Now Your Suffering Commences, so that Nigerians, all Nigerians may breathe a little easier in the future.
That’s what Yar’Adua wanted.
One Year Anniversary: Governor Wike Sues For Unity
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.
In a state-wide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office today, Governor Wike noted that the state can overcome the present global economic situation if citizens come together in unity of thought and purpose.
“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.
“This is a time for governance, not politics, and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he stated.
The Governor pointed out that within the last one year, his administration had embarked on urban renewal programme in the State capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.
He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 percent completion.
The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.
Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.
In addition, the governor said, work has commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to him, the long abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.
The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Governor Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.
The State Chief Executive pointed out that funds had been released for comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Kalabari National College, Buguma.
Others include, Community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Eteo in Eleme Local Government Area.
On Real Madrid Academy, Governor Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels is progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.
He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Datco Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunities for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.
The governor regretted that despite the advisories and regulations on social distancing and compulsory wearing of face masks, most residents are flouting the directives to the collective peril of all.
“These are all irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
“We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.
“Government may be forced to reinstate lockdown if members of the public continue to flout and disregard the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks,” he said.
Governor Wike however, commiserated with the families of those that lost their loved ones to the pandemic and prayed for the peaceful repose of their innocent souls.
He said that while we pray for the quick success, for the global search, for vaccines, the responsibility still rests on everyone to strictly comply with the established mitigating measures.
A Statewide Broadcast By His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS, To Mark The First Year Of His Second Term In Office …My Dear Good People of Rivers State
Rivers State Set To Inaugurate Cassava Plant …To Employ 4,500 Persons
The Rivers State Cassava Processing Company located at Afam, Oyigbo Local Government Area will soon come on stream.
Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this Thursday after inspecting the plant, pointed out that the company when fully operational would employ 4,500 persons and also boost agriculture in the state.
He stated that the State Government has 70 percent equity share in the project which is in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC) of Nigeria.
“We are quite happy that this project which was initiated by the previous administration in 2012 and abandoned has come to the stage of completion.
“When we came on board and saw the usefulness of this project to our economy, we did not hesitate to release funds to complete it.
“As you can see this project which is about 90 percent complete would have been commissioned this month if not for the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted global economy.
“Let me commend the management of this plant for fast-tracking the completion and the novel initiative that will use mobile machines to collect cassava from the farmers at their various clusters.
“This, will no doubt, reduce the challenge of logistics and increase farmer participation, ” the governor stated.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Rivers State Cassava Processing Company, Ruben Giesen noted that the cassava processing plant when completed would increase income for small holder farmers by providing an enabling environment for them to sell their cassava tubers.
He also disclosed that the plant would produce about 45 thousand metric tons of cassava flour daily while about 12 thousand metric tons of cassava tubers would be needed for collection by its mobile plants from farmers around the state for processing.
Mr. Giesen commended the State Governor for embarking on the project, which he described as the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa.
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