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Published On: Thu, Oct 8th, 2020

Zoning: The next frontier (IV)

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Thursday Column with Mohammed Adamu

By Mohammed Adamu

The case for making Vice President Jonathan ‘Acting President’ had been made with such passionate determination as though that was the long-awaited socio-economic elixir for the many sicknesses of our nation; and Jonathan himself had been touted, especially by us, the Media, in the glowing epic of an avenging angel; some kind of Hercules brandishing the proverbial Sword of Damocles and cruising on a chariot of fire to descend on an Augean Stable of filth occasioned by the mis-governance of a Northern-Yar’Adua administration.
And most Southern journalists in fact almost felt a sense of call to duty; so that many were patriotically besides themselves, heads over heels, theorizing about Nigeria’s rare ‘good luck’, as they celebrated the advent of a renaissance of Jonathan ideas.
In fact the point was so luridly made, without the slightest equivocation, that since the North (now tauntedly epitomized by a sickened Yar’Adua) was medically infirm of body –and who knew, possibly also of mind- they said that since the North had deserted the rudder and the ship of State was about to go adrift, a virile South, epitomized by what they said was a man of heavenly ‘good luck’, a stallion Jonathan should be allowed to mount the mare to do the needful; to till the land and to fecundate the soil to make it grow forth and bear fruit once again.
Every move made by politicians, lawyers and especially journalists about making Vice President Jonathan ‘Acting President’ was so laced with deep geo-ethnic undertones that a good friend of mine, Daily Trust’s Columnist and a former presidential aspirant Tope Fasua, in a Thisday ‘Back Page’ piece titled ‘If We Were All Presidents’ (15/02/10) warned that plotting to dispense of Yar’Adua “while increasing fear, distrust, tribalism, religious bigotry and hopelessness among our peoples is definitely counterproductive”. And this he said was especially considering the fact that this was a man “The symbolism of (whose) Presidency, no matter what stories make the rounds, is that of humility, civility, chastity and patriotism.”
And so in the end although the Federal Executive Council had twice rebuffed the prodding of the public and especially the harangues of the now-growing pro-Jonathan mob, to convene a meeting as required by the Constitution, and to kick start the process for declaring President Yar’Adua incapacitated, the National Assembly had soon made that fractious path unnecessary. The Legislature had eventually caved in to pressure to apply the ‘doctrine of necessity’ at last proclaiming Jonathan ‘Acting President’.
And now as the South’s –or should we say the South-South’s?- new avenging angel, Jonathan, instigated by his army of anti-Northern Ijaw kith and kin, had commenced his Acting Presidency with the decapitation of all political vestiges of his dying Principal, Yar’Adua. First he had executed a major cabinet reshuffle advisedly to suffuse the Federal Executive Council with enough loyalists and thus reposition it for the gargantuan task ahead, namely still, of declaring his ailing Principal medically incapacitated on the grounds of infirmity of the body, even if not of the mind.
And even as the crowds had cheered the new ‘Acting President’ on with the chant of “a Daniel coming to judgment”, a fetish Jonathan had naively –even if paranoidly- made it clear that even after removing the vestiges of his ailing Principal, there was still a greater task ahead, namely that of de-animating the Aso Rock Villa of the phantom of Yar’Adua’s gory spirit and especially those of his cultist –some said occultic- Ruma-led ‘Kitchen Cabinet’. But just when this next task was about to be undertaken, of smoking the ‘demons’ of Yar’Adua out of the corridors of the Villa, talk of the devil, the ‘hobgoblin’ himself returned –now in his physiological body.
One very early morning of Wednesday, February 24, 2010, exactly ninety days since he was air-ambulanced to Saudi Arabia, a convalescing Yar’Adua was returned to Nigeria, unannounced, via the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, and was received with all the protocol due to a President, not excluding the ceremonial etiquette and protective chaperone of the Brigade of Guards –an elite corps traditionally assembled strictly for the defense and protection only of the President and Commander-In-Chief. And now, as the saying goes, all hell broke loose; especially as the Yar’Adua was moved straight into the Villa where an ‘Acting President Jonathan’ was still trying to get his new acts together.

Yar’Adua’s return had suddenly become almost a treasonable kill-joy. And pro-Jonathans – still savoring the joy of snatching power from the North- were exasperated. Why should he return at this time? And why without the authority of the Acting President? And by the way, who authorized the Brigade of Guards to accord him protocol that now should be due only to Jonathan? Heads they said must roll; and that Jonathan must probe the extent of the conspiracy to undermine his infant authority. Apart from the Army, what was the role of the SSS, the Police and the Immigration Department? In fact many had called for the immediate overhaul of the nation’s entire security architecture.
But not only that, many had in fact insisted that Yar’Adua had since died about two or three weeks earlier, in King Faisal’s Specialist Hospital and that it was a conspiracy of the North and Saudi authorities, masterminded by the ‘dead’ Yar’Adua’s wife Turai, that his body should be smuggled into the Villa and that a surrogate body of the late President’s henchmen tele-guided by Turai would call the shots. This theory was soon busted by a Press Statement immediately issued by Yar’Adua’s Media Adviser, Olusegun Adeniyi informing the nation that Yar’Adua, although he was back and getting stronger, he would still require to fully recuperate before he resumed his Presidential duties, and that Jonathan would continue to run the affairs of the State till further notice.
And although this had busted the theory of an agenda to govern the nation by a power-angling First Lady in surrogate capacity, it did not douse the allegation that there was in fact not a ‘living’ Yar’Adua in the Villa but his ‘dead body’. Or at the very most they said, maybe a ‘dying’ man on ‘life support’. It was the last trick, they said, by the North still to have, even if a gossamer of psychological hold, on the Jonathan Acting Presidency, to make Jonathan psychologically subservient to a power-in-waiting. And this they said must be resisted.
But again, even this theory would soon be busted especially when Yar’Adua’s handlers tactically now arranged for pockets of well-wishers cutting across tribe and tongue, religion and geography, to come into the Villa to welcome the President and to pray for, and wish him speedy recovery. But Jonathan had still continued to lack a mind of his own. Rather than just proceed to govern being still the Acting President and Commander In Chief (as he was once told by the courts he should do even when he was merely a Vice President), he rather chose to listen to ethnic champions who were bent on egging him more and more to one tantrum after another.
And so now that no one was in doubt that Yar’Adua was alive and rather than the allegation that he wanted ‘his power back’ all that he probably wanted was the charity of the Acting President to allow him a dignified, peaceful death, they had come up with the excuse that the presence in the Villa of a terminally ill Yar’Adua casting morbidly horrifying looks at the Acting President, was distracting. It was time they said that the new Jonathan-rejigged Federal Executive Council did the needful, namely declare Yar’Adua incapacitated.
It was while this plot was being hatched that Yar’Adua died, on the fifth of May 2010,barely a year to the next presidential election, in 2011, -long enough a time, you might say for the proverbial witch to forget, but still fresh enough for the North to remember, that a man who had their own Yar’Adua, the way that Jonathan did, was not entitled to the electoral gratuity that his Principal’s demise had so cheaply presented. And it was this, if you like, -rather than the so called desperation to retain power for the North- that had un-bottled the genie of zoning and made most Northerners resolute that Jonathan must not be allowed to contest 2011.
To be continued

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