Sunday, October 11, 2009


In my sojourn across countries and tribes in Africa, I came across different tribes but with similar customs, cultures and traditions. From the people of your race, my own race too, I heard, seen, and learned quantum of wisdom from their ways and ancient philosophies. Ranging from respect of man to woman, duty of husband to wife or wives as the case maybe (not harem of mistresses in the case of the western man as opposed to his philosophy of “one man, one wife”) vice versa; communal union and interpersonal relationships amongst kinsmen and clansfolk; child rearing and its welfare and more.

On the shore of the Bantu people, I heard the rumour that some set of beings are deluded with their telescopic thought that the African has no philosophy for his actions and reactions. This baffled and confused me to the point that I said to my friend, a fellow-sojourner, that–maybe the African folks should ask their western counterparts what a philosophy is, since the word originated from their language diary. Because my father once told me during one of our numerous discussions that: “whatever people, white people in particular, don’t understand, they condemn.” And in my friend’s opinion, what it was was that the sophistication and complexity of African philosophy, therefore, made it an alien to the western culture and not that African has no philosophy.

In my risky exploration of the race, I sometime found myself down the hills in a suburb in Johannesburg, due north Southern Africa. Humming and thinking in-between on my way home (home?) through the bushy path; I heard a scary cry of an infant beamed out from a beehive hut along countryside. Child, the cry was not in anyway different from that you unleashed as soon as you realized you were among the living, members of the orbit-earth, few hours ago. And almost at the same moment, villagers trooped out from the hut singing and dancing in celebration of the child–a new-world-citizen. Same instant, from nowhere, without been prompted, resounding rhythm throbbed from drums with chimed of gongs and resonated tune of flutes together accompanied the songs and the dance steps became more energetic and exciting.

Moons latter – few months later – I was on the land of my forefathers to facilitate with Yoruba tribesmen during masquerade festival. O, I like the hunters’ dance and its poetry so much so that I exercise with my hands and legs whenever I hear the beat. And this is the time; the period, they are best enjoyed…O, home I missed…

Are you with me child? “Yeeesss….” But why the drag in your voice? Don’t you squeeze your face like that of a lion in an ambush for food in the forest, child. Truly, you’re entitled to sleep at will but not now of all time! Don’t you hear the solemn sound of the sacred orchestra percussion outside been played in your celebration? “Yes I do but I thought that is to lure me to sleep.” Yes, I understand your mood. “You don’t in the least! Because if you do, you will let me be now! At least, I’m of the understanding that sleep is paramount to a child and it’s my right!” Really, you possess all the rights as of a child as codified in the 1924 Declaration of Geneva: (1) The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually; (2) The child that is hungry must be fed; the child that is sick must be nursed; the child that is backward must be helped; the delinquent child must be reclaimed; and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succoured; (3) The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress; (4) The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood and must be protected against every form of exploitation; (5) The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow-men. “O that’s great, now I know more of my rights as child!” But don’t be deluded with sheer blasphemy clothed in the regalia of a law for Africa Children as passed in Geneva in the twentieth century conference. “Blasphemy?” Listen! You’re not an ordinary child! You’re a project. The world’s project. And the good news about this project – that you are – is that countless organizations: UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO… are interested in funding you independently. Child, you’re the only project I know that has a readily made sponsors and that says it all about your existence. Indeed, you’re not like the child captured in the Declaration! “Why?” Listen to this poem:

Warriors of Kikuyu, awake,
Ye who cannot see that the old
Man grows older
If you sleep the foreigners will
Seize our wealth
And then what will the children
Of Mumbi feed on?

That was a stanza from a revolution poem I heard rendered by the detainees at Kowop Camp, one mourning night near Ngiro hill, during “Mau Mau” uprising in Kenya, don’t ask me what I was doing around the camp. And whilst in Togo, the people of Gold Coast, present day Ghana, were labeled as cannibals and said to eat their children, by the District Commissioners and the Missionaries at that, during their insurrection for Independence. So also were Zambian men in the eyes of Europeans, who forced themselves to be leaders upon Africans of that time. This latent character assassination took prominence in the twentieth century when the urge for African Independence was at its peak.

“Hum…it seems that all Africans during that period eat their children in the eyes of Europeans – colonial masters, right?” That is it youngest-citizen-of-the-world! Can you now see the cunning contradiction in their (Europeans) account and your clansfolk account on child rearing and appreciation? Barely four months ago, had I heard through a cable television station–SKYNEWS–that a fifteen years old girl gave birth to a child father by a thirteen year old boy somewhere on the western coast. That is a taboo in Africa of the old and of now, probably the future I can’t predict because of the constant dominance of the western culture and custom on our land. It may interest you still to know that Professor Westermann affirmed in his paper been presented at the 1930 Geneva Conference on “African Children” that: “to help the peoples of Africa is Europe’s debt of honour. This is particularly so with regard to the children of Africa…the African people need help, and they rightly look for this help to us, who have made ourselves the masters of their fate.” Even through I agree with him that there is debt to be paid to the folks of Africa by the Europeans, reparation is to me the real debt and not in anyway debt of honour. They are only willing to pay skimpy from what they plundered in Africa as expressed in the last line of Westermann’s statement. And the fund is domiciled in the domain of the numerous sponsors/donors who are ready to finance you, as a project that you are to them. Get it child!

“We pray thee, O God, to permit
The White Men to return to their homes
Because a tree without fruits
Is never planted in a garden”

That is a stanza of The Song of Kimathi, lord of the forest – composed in the forest by the “Mau Mau” warriors. And if my mind will not disappoint me now, that should be the last stanza. How come you know it child? Hummm…. Don’t worry, I know child, it’s in your composition as a being that must be born on this shore. O, this land is proud to have you chose here as your place of birth. You’re welcome. You see, it’s not the white-man that will teach Africans how to nurture and cater for their own children, because if those men, women and children they transported to their land at the mercy of automated animations during the slave trade era were not enough energetic and sound with the philosophy of their race…they won’t be giving them problems now. “Problems?” O yes. Americans understand better. And more reason why Black peoples’ customs, culture and tradition dominate lands around the world: Haiti, Caribbean Islands, Brazil, Jamaica and some parts in the Europe.

My story child…. “Yes your story – so….” After the festival which was well attended by folks from foreign lands of various colours (as coded in the Western world’s diary of race) and the villagers. Few days later, I found myself by the rocky path on the hills of Oke-ayan. Once again, I heard the cry of an infant beamed out from a thatched hospital built on the account that the black people may have hygienic health treatment. When of course, it was the naturally concocted water of Osun river that the mother of children, Osun herself has been using in curing countless diseases, germs, and all forms of illnesses plaguing the African children before the western means.

And as expected, this time unlike the last time, there was no jubilation as of the Johannesburg villagers for the newly-arrived-world-citizen. “Why?” Child, reasons were well written on the notice board: “no noise here – there are patients of variant ailments on admission and babies of a hundred different types (white, red and black), are rolling in their potable caves.” “Is this not an imitation of the western culture?” Don’t ask me question because I know not of any answer now, child. I only pray that the latter child’s fate should not be your fate, as an African child is meant to be celebrated.

© Ayanda Abeke, 2009
Lagos, Nigeria.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Help them if you can

Help them if you can

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Autopsy set after Michael Jackson's sudden death

By LYNN ELBER, Associated Press Writer Lynn Elber, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 24 mins ago
From YAHOO Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson, defined in equal parts as the world's greatest entertainer and perhaps its most enigmatic figure, was about to attempt one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Then his life was cut shockingly — and so far, mysteriously — short.

The 50-year-old musical superstar died Thursday, just as he was preparing for what would be a series of 50 concerts starting July 13 at London's famed 02 arena. Jackson had been spending hours and hours toiling with a team of dancers for a performance he and his fans hoped would restore his tarnished legacy to its proper place in pop.

An autopsy was planned for Friday, though results were not likely to be final until toxicology tests could be completed, a process that could take several days and sometimes weeks. However, if a cause can be determined by the autopsy, they will announce the results, said Los Angeles County Coroner Investigator Jerry McKibben.

Police said they were investigating, standard procedure in high-profile cases.

Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center after being stricken at his rented home in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him at his home for nearly three-quarters of an hour, then rushed him to the hospital, where doctors continued to work on him.

"It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known," his brother Jermaine said.

Cardiac arrest is an abnormal heart rhythm that stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. It can occur after a heart attack or be caused by other heart problems.

Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

His 1982 album "Thriller" — which included the blockbuster hits "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" — is the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.

As word of his death spread, MTV switched its programming to play videos from Jackson's heyday. Radio stations began playing marathons of his hits. Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital. In New York's Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

"No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow," Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend had sent him. "It's like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died."

The public first knew him as a boy in the late 1960s, when he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the singing group he formed with his four older brothers out of Gary, Ind. Among their No. 1 hits were "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "I'll Be There."

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his backward-gliding moonwalk, his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched singing, punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks, as was his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words," said Quincy Jones, who produced "Thriller." "He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."

Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. He united two of music's biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie. Jackson's sudden death immediately evoked comparisons to that of Presley himself, who died at age 42 in 1977.

"I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible," Lisa Marie Presley said in a statement. "I am heartbroken for his children who I know were everything to him and for his family. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me."

As years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure — a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He often wore a germ mask while traveling, kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions and surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, a storybook playland filled with toys, rides and animals. The tabloids dubbed him "Wacko Jacko."

"It seemed to me that his internal essence was at war with the norms of the world. It's as if he was trying to defy gravity," said Michael Levine, a Hollywood publicist who represented Jackson in the early 1990s. He called Jackson a "disciple of P.T. Barnum" and said the star appeared fragile at the time but was "much more cunning and shrewd about the industry than anyone knew."

Jackson caused a furor in 2002 when he playfully dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin while a throng of fans watched from below.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges that he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him, and of engaging in strange and inappropriate behavior with other children.

The case followed years of rumors about Jackson and young boys. In a TV documentary, he acknowledged sharing his bed with children, a practice he described as sweet and not at all sexual.

Despite the acquittal, the lurid allegations that came out in court took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary. He was 4 years old when he began singing with his brothers — Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito — in the Jackson 5. After his early success with bubblegum soul, he struck out on his own, generating innovative, explosive, unstoppable music.

The album "Thriller" alone mixed the dark, serpentine bass and drums and synthesizer approach of "Billie Jean," the grinding Eddie Van Halen guitar solo on "Beat It," and the hiccups and falsettos on "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."

The peak may have come in 1983, when Motown celebrated its 25th anniversary with an all-star televised concert and Jackson moonwalked off with the show, joining his brothers for a medley of old hits and then leaving them behind with a pointing, crouching, high-kicking, splay-footed, crotch-grabbing run through "Billie Jean."

The audience stood and roared. Jackson raised his fist.

During production of a 1984 Pepsi commercial, Jackson's scalp sustains burns when an explosion sets his hair on fire.

He had strong follow-up albums with 1987's "Bad" and 1991's "Dangerous," but his career began to collapse in 1993 after he was accused of molesting a boy who often stayed at his home. The singer denied any wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the boy's family, reported to be $20 million, and criminal charges were never filed.

Jackson's expressed anger over the allegations on the 1995 album "HIStory," which sold more than 2.4 million copies, but by then, the popularity of Jackson's music was clearly waning even as public fascination with his increasingly erratic behavior was growing.

Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and they divorced in 1996. Later that year, Jackson married Deborah Rowe, a former nurse for his dermatologist. They had two children together: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael, now 12; and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11. Rowe filed for divorce in 1999.

Jackson also had a third child, Prince Michael II. Now 7, Jackson said the boy nicknamed Blanket as a baby was his biological child born from a surrogate mother.

Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said Jackson's star power was unmatched. "The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it," Werde said. "He's literally the king of pop."

Jackson's 13 No. 1 one hits on the Billboard charts put him behind only Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey, Werde said.

"He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," he said. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."


AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch and AP writers Derrik J. Lang, Solvej Schou, Anthony McCartney and Thomas Watkins in Los Angeles; and Virginia Byrne, Hillel Italie, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Jocelyn Noveck in New York contributed to this report.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Latest on ewaBAmiJO

If you've been wondering what's next on EBJ. the media campaign took us round the doorsteps of the following confirmed EBJ Dance Ambassadors:

Dr Ahmed Yerima,
Ambassador Segun Olusola
Tunde Kilani
Jimmy Jatt
Peter Badejo (OBE)
and Nomoreloss.

On the other side of the Mediterranean sea, Qudus Onikeku, the EBJ Dance guru himself, held Paris in hostage and he is set to take the gospel of EBJ round Sao Paolo, Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Bogota (Colombia), Maine and New York (USA). With the aim of creating new and lasting relationship with other territories other than our familiar acquaintances in Europe.

See this for yourself and share the word.

EBJ will be kicking off with its strategic international relation and mobilisation in Sao Paolo, Brazil on the 8th of June 2009, hosted by the Matilha Cultural; It will be followed by a cinema screening of our documentary film "Do we need cola cola to dance" and a Non conventional space performance on the 13th of June 2009...

Followed by a second Showing in New York on the 25th of July 2009, also followed by a studio screening of "Do we need cola cola to dance" and a solo Performance hosted by the Dance Theatre Workshop. New York.

A third showing will be during a residency at the Bates Festival between 19th of July - 9th of August 2009, with a cinema screening of "Do we need cola cola to dance" and two solo Performances on 6th and 7th of August 2009, during the "Different Voices" Hosted by the bates Dance Festival in Portland Maine.

Watch out for more intriguing update on the journey to EBJ 2009. Before then, HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOU INVITED TO JOIN THE GROUP ? Its not enough to support by sending us email and wishing us success, no one can clap with one hand, it will be appreciated if you can go to the group page and click on the Invite people to get all your friends list to join the train, that will not cost so much and also join the discussion board to let's hear your views...


is DANCE a Sport?

Following a long argument in an online forum, whether DANCE is a sport or not, i found it interesting as a topic to discuss, I have curled two significant point made by two distinct persons, one for and the other against such notion

Brittiny Catalano stated that
"1) Dancers are physically fit and need conditioning. they work extremely hard and train till they can't walk anymore and then continue on...
Visit to let your voice be heard.

Yk Projects. Nigeria

Friday, June 05, 2009


"You're crazy" male voice shrieked
"You're mad," female voice yelled.
The noise race has begun again. They won't let me rest. They'll delude me from thinking clearly with their unreasonable noise quest.

"Stupid shameless thing" female voice
"Mind your sharpened tongue woman” male voiced.
When for peace sake will these two ever put a stop to their night in, night out shouting, ranting, raking and wrestling? Often they rife and never make any amendment. Can't this just be erased wholly from their daily dealings? Always it's the feminine voice at the height of the masculine’s. The chattering tonight seems like a contest between a known calm male's voice and a raspy female's voice. Perhaps, that ferocious wife at the next door is ready un-redeemable to sort some unwitting variance out with her head-locked husband tonight.

"Can't you be reasonable for once?" male voiced.
"My sense of reasoning is beclouded with insecurity young man!" female voiced.
Tonight is tonight in this civilian barrack called: Olumota compound, one of the most outrageously constructed and well maintained buildings in Morakoko slum. Ghetto will make mockery of the unhealthy and long cleaned environment as a description. Yet, Olumota compound, which was built by trio- carpenters, now old men, in their youthful days, remains the heart of the community. Not on the ground that the building has experienced repaint in the last two scores it's solely because of its weird varied- character tenants. Carpentry was what brought the trio down to EKO-Akete, from their various villages. But old age has a major set-back on the trio-friends; it stripped off their dignity as they can't catch-up with their youthful days.

This noise…this noise! Can't I have some peaceful rest after the long hectic hours of the day? The sun splashed across the west on the wide landscape of the earth, scorched like the blazing of goldsmith's sort of. This noise that noise, stupid and irritating noise, must sprang from certain corner of my quarters at every night fall. I am tired; buried amongst un-healthy appetite for this lots! Despite proper placement of my grievance on this ordeal noisy case, what about my priority: the capacity to move at will from the fictitious vicinity to factional environ? The unbearable must be beard because money is essential factor to be considered. I'm left with no choice at all. At will must I endure the unpleasing riotous odd of the nights at the moment. All the same, in this mad house must I continue my satisfactory but wrecking existence as a scribbler until fortune falls on my creative path way. O, what a day will it be! That day, that I'll be called upon onto an elegantly customized platform to receive a huge sum of money in exchange for my midnights candle burnings, ink splashing on excess exercise – books as my creativity exploration tools.

Truly, how it all started tonight I didn't keep track; neither words from my thirsty throat can vividly paint the picture nor erect structure of the scenario in motion. Nobody dare sought mad-dog's attention for fun. The certain thing about the on-going ugly scenario is that the unhappy married couples, who frequently search for some sort of euphoria amidst rowdiness, are at it again.

Months back, in one of my counseling conversations with the short, dark sparkling pale haired, mother of two enchanting kids, who is often the protagonist though, she revealed to me: "it took both of us ten years of wild romance and thorough examination before we called it a sealed deal" she giggled afterwords.

"Really?" I responded rather too immediate with an under-tone of surprise.
"Yes, my eminent young bachelor", her face aglow, and she amuse herself each time she discusses her relationship but not without some expression of jealousy for her husband. "You have to take your leisure time to explore ladies world," she turn the chicken laps in her frying-pan, "but do not exploit, it kills you know?"

"Yes, but you know I am not an exploiter," I replied from my corner of the kitchen. This house we leaved in is so built or rather partitioned in that two rooms have just an entrance with a small pass-way which eventually becomes the kitchen. And in preparation for breakfast on weekends, we stay shoulder to shoulder, while we find solace in some womanly chat.
"Young man, it's a mind issue, not printed on forehead, you know," she smiled "I trust you, but mind you, you mustn't rush into for better for worst's world," she stressed.

"Even when my fiance is ready for the rite and ritual," I asked ignorantly
"That's it, that's the point I’m driving at" she said with all sense of purpose and turned away from what she's frying on the fire. "You see, my young bachelor, the seemingly Godly world required wisdom not knowledge neither passion nor emotion…. You have to be careful!" hurriedly she turned the chicken on the fire.
"Whilst knowledge is the mother of wisdom, I am an ardent student in the school of love," with mood of triumph, I replied.

"Don't be fooled Bolade, those dos and don't of love and marriage posited in those pamphlets and at times in books can't help! She sighed and raised her head upwards whilst I stood with rapt attention facing her, hence our eyes contacted. But u couldn't fathom the sense in her sincere statement "flaws do you mean?" I ask non-nonchalantly, minding my business in the kitchen.

"Iya Ayokunmi, you see, one thing I think is missing here is the virtue and the reputation of the writers of those books. Most of them are marriage councilors and psychologists who have worked and examined series of marriage institutional ills…" She wouldn't allow me to tactically arrange my thoughts logically before cutting in rudely. "Enough of that, young man!" She said rather in a harsh tone. "I know you read those authors a lot, yet they can't solve the slightest synchronized issue in the marriage institutional world! Day by day, they learn from cases brought to them by their clientele. They're never perfect." She excused me at the top of her husband’s voice. Things are happening, can you imagine the husband calling his wife with her maiden name even after two kids. This is entirely Un-African. Our culture, our tradition, norms and moral are speedy fading out. This is just the twenty-first century…. O Africa, reclaim your glory and pride!

"Okay" I manage to utter with disbelieve inscribed boldly on my widely popped out eyes. I concurred with her hypothesis, wholly, although such statement can't be accepted as a theory due to the fact that it's yet to be tested. Regrettably, late 20th and 21st century’s ladies got trapped mostly on the research field. Marriage is of two realms: the seen and the unseen, while the larger percentage of the new age ladies preferred the "seen realm," which harbour: pleasure, material, wealth, partying, marry-making and comfort. And the other realm, the unseen, which its watch-words are contentment and endurance they happily detested. What a paradox of priority. O, what an adverbial clause of time!

Perhaps she's right with her posited ideology, perhaps, she's wrong, yet fate sure will take its steady bearing in the scheme of human's endeavors on earth and other realms.

Well, in my irrational opinion, since I can't let myself out to face the noise, I think the evil root of tonight's commotion of noise is “sensed-seduction”, the step-mother of adultery.
"She's too small for you Shellie, leave her alone!" the wife exclaimed with some seemed marijuana sieved voice.
"Woman, what on earth is your problem?" he furiously asked. "And I thought your brain is cleaned from blood stain…?
"If being a psychiatric patient will give the expected effect, my dear adulterous husband, I think I am, and the cure is - let the poor lady be!" She yelled with some rasp clapping.
"O, do… don't tell me your insanity tilt towards Ronke," he felt disappointed in his wife barely from his tone.

"You know already? I guest as much. Tell me, who else could it be if not that ugly husband hijacker, Ronke of a thing?"
The husband wanted to say something but his voice betrayed him. Stroke seems to engulf him at the mention of the lady's name. But Ronke is a popular name in this household. If my brain won't desert me now, that lady used to be a frequent visitor here some years back, even before the arrival of this rascal wife of my neighbour. As a bachelor, I once made move towards her, but brother Shyllie would not let my trap catch a sumptuous meat like her in his forest. He told me the lady is his friend's fiancée but had a serious problem with mathematics and account; that’s the reason why she comes around every evening to be able to catch-up with her schoolmates. And I retrieved into my shell like a snail because brother Shyllie is not like that, he understands.

"She's just a friend, Deola, you know she's my friend's fiancée, how could I possibly do that to my only childhood friend," he proclaimed calmly amidst confusion and disbelieve.

"What use is that history in this discuss of insecurity? Marriage insecurity I mean my dear husband… the sole path to tranquility in this room and entire Olumota compound tonight, is by letting go of that thing!.

"O Deola, why bent on soiling my glossy brocade, can't you allow peace to reign for posterity sake!"
It's a pity that what the husband seek now had long slipped away from their relationship right from there glorified courtship days. And since both of them think less of it as the basis of discord in their lives, the tied must remain the same forever.

The furious argument goes on for couple of minutes until in a twist of time keys and notes in accompaniment of the body sounds that produce rhythmic cacophonous voice, swapped with an unpleasant meaning.

"You must kill me tonight," her voice trailed off, speaking aggressively amongst sobbing dotted her expression.
This two-man drama, it's becoming interesting minute after minute. The protagonist's voice connotes agitation. From her antecedent, I'm almost sure she must have by now grasped her husband's trousers firmly by the thigh.

"And you'll die, nobody will after you demon called wife, if that your untutored tongue is not cautioned this instance!"

Enough! Enough of this madness and unsolicited noise in this compound! If you must know, your rattles of the night hinders my personal ordeal. Truthfully, you know I have no other soothing job, at the moment than making known to the public what happened in market places, palaces, farm fronts, sea shores and relevant functions around the hamlets.

Well, as a modern day town-crier, with words I must paint situations and in statements I must explain events. Gone are those days, town-criers, palace bards, court jesters and poets were the carriers of information's with words unwritten, but me, I have to etch words in a unique style. My stories and articles must be ready just before dawn everyday for my editor to proof read and approve for publication prior going to press in the morning. It's obvious that I won't be able to scribe a single sentence, talk-less of a paragraph, courtesy this noisy atmosphere! Can't you people maintain some degree of silence? O, pity it is that this repulsion conceived within the four-walls of my tattered room can't be felt outside. I can only do nothing to avert the reoccurring noisy crisis either.

Unto your consciousness I called: readers and reviewers of this piece learn now from the scenario not to bite regrettable fingers in years yet unknown. Tonight, it's as certain as death, a five line poem I can't write; neither can I capture one of the many events I covered today without the modern town-crier's midgets.

All right, since eruption of this erratic noise has distant my muse, this performance, a fiction out of faction, in fairness: "Societal, ill" shall occupy my inside family column tomorrow. God...hmmm…goodnight.

© Ayanda Abeke 2007
Rumour Net works,
Lagos, Nigeria.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

El Rufai on Obasanjo & Yar Adua

El-Rufai writes on the inside story behind the last hours of the Obasanjo administration and the dawn of Yar'Adua's. He published it on his Facebook profile.

Written by El-Rufai

1. The Challenge of Writing on Umaru Yar’Adua

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is Nigeria’s current President, and unless his health fails will remain the Chief Executive of Africa’s most populous country at least until 2011, and perhaps till 2015 if re-elected. Having been in office for less than two years, it may be premature to pass judgment on his leadership and governance styles. But there is a saying prevalent amongst Hausa speakers of Northern Nigeria, which roughly translated means:

“You know that an enjoyable weekend is round the corner when things begin to look good by Wednesday, (otherwise, forget the weekend, or just pray).”

It is on the basis of this that I will attempt to present an assessment of Umaru Yar’ Adua’s time in office, and venture to predict what his first full term in office is likely to be. I do not share the views of the Economist that Umaru Yar’ Adua’s health is such an issue that he would not be available to attempt re-election.

And because Umaru Yar’Adua has been in office for so short a time, not much has been written about him. This essay will therefore be a summary of what the utterly free but unreliable Nigerian media and bloggers have published, tempered by my personal knowledge of Yar’Adua since I first met him in 1972, and what others that have grown up, lived and worked with him have related to me.

I will also present not only a contextual summary of the Obasanjo Administration’s twilight days, and Obasanjo’s decisions and actions and the impacts these would have on Yar’Adua’s governance, but a biographical sketch that throws some light on the personality of the new president. My hope is that these will help explain some of Yar’Adua’s decisions and actions, as well as successes and failures as President of Nigeria.

I will compare Yar’ Adua’s promises and commitments upon his swearing-in, with actual outcomes achieved. I will review his political, economic and foreign policy vision, policies and actions to establish how transformational he has been.

2. Nigeria in May 2007

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with an estimated 146 million inhabitants living within an area slightly more than twice the land area of California. With a GDP of over $296 billion and huge reserves of crude oil, Nigeria is the second largest economy in the Continent, the leading oil exporter and 37th largest economy in the World .

Nigeria is located in the Gulf of Guinea in the Western part of Africa. Nigeria was created by the amalgamation of what were known as the Protectorates of Northern Nigeria, Southern Nigeria and the Colony of Lagos into one nation in 1914. The nation was granted independence in 1960 in what was considered by Time magazine as a model of negotiated self-rule.

Nigeria in May 2007 was in high spirits – we were about to successfully transfer power democratically from one elected government to another, handing over a sound economy that is almost debt-free with healthy reserves of over $45 billion. For the first time since Nigeria’s first republic was terminated, there was a window of opportunity to break from the past. The world was watching with interest, with good reason. According to Rotberg in a report prepared for the Council on Foreign Relations:

“For policy makers everywhere, Nigeria should be the central African question. No country’s fate is so decisive for the continent. No other country across a range of issues has the power so thoroughly to shape outcomes elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. If Nigeria works well, so might Africa.”

For some of us in President Obasanjo’s government, the elections were disappointing but the best candidate won. We have elected our first University graduate as President, a person we were convinced was a decent man, and raised the possibility that we will break the vicious cycle of bad leadership that has defined our nation. We were optimistic about the future.

3. Abuja on May 29, 2007

It was on the eve of the Hand-Over date and we had gone to Defense House to take a final look at the Inaugural Speech that President-Elect Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would read to the world tomorrow when he is sworn in at 10.00 am Nigerian time. Abuja – the City I had administered in the last four years and have lived since 1998 was not as festive as it should be. Instead, what was in the air was a huge sigh of relief. I had been in my office for the last time, knowing that I will never ever visit the FCT Administration again. My family had moved out of the official residence a couple of days before, and moved into the house I had just bought from the Federal Government.

We had brought the only African to ever win a Pulitzer Prize - Dele Olojede (now the publisher of Next Newspaper) from South Africa, to write the speech. We (Dele Olojede, Nasir El-Rufai, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Jimi Lwal and Aliyu Modibbo) reviewed the third draft of the speech with Umaru Yar’Adua and made a few corrections. We argued whether it was appropriate to mention that 54% of Nigerians lived below the poverty line in view of the unreliability of our national statistics. It was a great speech Dele had prepared from several intearctive sessions with the President-Elect.

At about 11pm, Tanimu Yakubu came in to the room we were all meeting, and asked me out. He requested that I get one of the judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to come and sign the Asset Declaration Forms of the President-Elect, as the Chief Justice of Nigeria had vowed that he will not appear at the Inauguration unless they were submitted to him in the morning. I called my Chief of Staff to wake up any of the judges for this purpose. I rejoined the group and finally left the President-Elect at 2.00 am in the morning of May 29, 2007. Tanimu, my Chief of Staff and the Honorable Judge were still waiting for the paperwork to be put together.

As I was driving home, my cell-phone rang and it was Nuhu Ribadu – the respected and dreaded chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He told me that he was with President Obasanjo and would want me to join them. I diverted to the State House and met them sharing drinks and reminiscent about the last four years. We left President Obasanjo who said he expected us at 8.00 am for a final breakfast with him before going to Eagle Square – the venue of the Inauguration Ceremonies. I got home about 3.00 am for a wink and was up early for the Farewell Breakfast with Obasanjo.

It was a time of great relief for us too – we will soon be free to pursue our private lives. I was personally uneasy about the poor succession outcome, inadequate preparation of Umaru Yar’Adua for the office he was about to be sworn in, the flawed elections and the legitimacy burden arising therefrom, and the abysmally poor briefing of the incoming team of the opportunities and challenges before them. How did we get to this point?

4. Early Life and Education

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is Nigeria’s thirteenth Head of Government and the second President of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. He was born on 16th August, 1951 in Daudawa, a village within the then Katsina Province of the Northern Region of Nigeria. His father, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua was at the time the senior civil servant in charge of the farm settlement of Kamfanin Daudawa, now part of Faskari Local Government of Katsina State.

Umaru’s father – Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua hailed from the Sullubawa Ruling Family of Katsina and held several aristocratic positions including royal titles of Tafida, and later the Mutawalli of Katsina (custodian of the treasury of the Katsina Emirate) until his death in 1993. Musa Yar’Adua was an active member of the Northern Peoples’ Congress – the dominant political party in Northern Nigeria at the time. He was the Minister of Lagos Affairs in the First Republic government of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa between 1960 and 1966. Umaru was the third eldest male of several children of Musa Yar’Adua’s several wives.

Umaru Yar’Adua was therefore born in privilege, and grew up learning from two respected tacticians in Nigeria’s political history – his father, Musa Yar’Adua and his elder brother – Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who was General Olusegun Obasanjo’s number two in the military junta that ruled Nigeria from 1976 to 1979. Umaru has always been an introvert and grew up in the shadows of his flamboyant, more extroverted and military-officer elder brother Shehu.

Umaru attended primary schools in and around Katsina, and went to Government College Keffi for his high school education (1965 to 1969). He did his two year senior high (A Levels) (1970 to 1971) at the famous Barewa College, Zaria – the premier high school that produced the bulk of Nigeria’s leaders from the North. (Note: Barewa College, Zaria was established in 1922 by the Colonial Government to produce teachers of Northern Nigerian origin. The College has so far produced four (Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari and Umaru Yar’Adua) out of Nigeria’s twelve Heads of Government, and Sir Ahmadu Bello – the Sardauna of Sokoto who was the de facto Head of the First Republic Government but chose to be the Premier of the Northern Region. See http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Barewa_College for more details.)

At Keffi, Umaru was a brilliant Science student who loved James Bond novels, and was nicknamed 007. Oddly enough, according to people that knew him then - his favorite character in the novels was not Bond himself but Ernst Stavro Blofeld – the leader of the criminal extortion organization intent on achieving world domination – S.P.E.C.T.R. E.! – (Note - SPECTRE stands for the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligenc e, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion - Admiring the villain in a spy novel was very strange indeed, and indicative of Umaru’s rebellious ways, or perhaps a future sinister streak!)

At Barewa College, Umaru was not a particularly conscientious student, missing classes often, was a chain smoker, and drank a lot of alcohol, contrary to College Regulations. He got a new nickname “Bad Man” for his anti-establishment and rebellious ways. In spite of this, he was not only appointed House Captain of Mallam Smith House but was surprisingly able to pass his A Levels reasonably well enough to get admitted into a degree program. (Note - I got admitted to Barewa College in January 1972 - a few months after Umaru Yar’Adua graduated. I was a freshman in Mallam Smith House where he was House Captain, and placed under the care of Sani Maikudi, Umaru Yar’Adua’s first cousin. Umaru was a legend, admired by all for his populist, non-chalant administration of the House, and fondly remembered by his Barewa nickname – “Bad Man”).

Umaru was admitted to the Ahmadu Bello University and graduated with BSc in Chemistry/Education in 1975. He spent one year in Lagos during the mandatory National Youth Service at Holy Child College as a high school Chemistry teacher. He returned to Ahmadu Bello University in 1978 for two years for an M.Sc in Analytical Chemistry. It is noteworthy that Umaru’s upbringing and education has always been limited to the states that make up the old Northern Region. He knew little else outside of his immediate geographic, ethnic and religious environment. This is to have some implications for his future governance roles.

5. Employment and Professional Career

On completion of the compulsory National Youth Service Scheme, Umaru joined the services of the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), Zaria as a Chemistry lecturer. He earned his M.Sc in Chemistry while still teaching at CAST. He remained in the employment of CAST, which later became the Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology (KCAST) and then Katsina Polytechnic until 1983 when he resigned to work for his brother, Major General Shehu Yar’Adua, then retired.

(Note - CAST Zaria/KCAST Zaria - This was a senior high school which replaced the British-style “A Levels” in the Northern States, and served to accelerate the preparation of high school graduates to move on to University. Coincidentally, my cousin and adopted father – Yahaya Hamza was the Principal of the College who interviewed and employed Umaru.

During his years at CAST, KCAST and the Polytechnic, Umaru became fascinated with socialism, and had great admiration for the Soviet economic and political system. He was the Patron of the students’ socialist movement, the Movement for Progressive Nigeria during the period. He admired the works of Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and read most of them. It was at this point that Yar’Adua also discovered Lobsang Rampa – the Tibetan mystic and author of the bestseller “The Third Eye”, introducing him to oriental thinking, superstition and myticism.

Upon retirement in 1979, Umaru’s elder brother and General Obasanjo’s deputy – Major General Shehu Yar’Adua had gone into the private sector in a big way – causing many people to wonder where all the money came from . The elder Yar’Adua’s farming venture – Sambo Farms Ltd., located near Daudawa (Umaru’s birthplace) was one of the ventures. Umaru became its pioneer General Manager in 1983 and remained there until the Company reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 1989. During the period, Umaru served on the Boards of several State-owned enterprises and agencies and on several private boards as a nominee of the Yar’Adua family:
• Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology (1979-83)
• Kaduna State Farmers Supply Company (1984-85)
• Katsina Investment and Property Development Company (1994-96)
• Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd. (1995-99)
• Lodigiani Construction Nigeria Ltd. (1987-1999)
• Hamada Holdings (1983-1999)
• Madara Ltd, Jos (1987-99)
• Nationhouse Press Ltd. (1995-99)

Umaru Yar’Adua never had any formal training in business or economics but through these boards got exposed to corporate practices prevalent in Nigeria at a time of rapid economic change – the years of Structural Adjustment Program and the endless political transitions of the successive military juntas of the mid-1980s to the late 1990s in Nigeria.

6. Political Career

During their employment as lecturers at the CAST Zaria, Umaru Yar’Adua along with Lawal Batagarawa joined the leftist Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP). Umaru Yar’Adua’s father was at that time, the State Chairman of the rival, right-wing National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

(Note - Lawal Batagarawa was a schoolmate and friend of Umaru Yar’Adua. He also hails from Katsina and attended Government College Keffi. He studied Electrical Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University. He taught Mathematics at the CAST Zaria at the same time as Umaru Yar’Adua. Later in life, Lawal went on to be Minister of State – Education and Defense in the Obasanjo Administration. He was Special Adviser to Obasanjo between 2003 and 2007).

However, when the PRP’s candidate was surprisingly elected the Governor of Kaduna State, Umaru Yar’Adua declined to accept a position in the government 'for family reasons' . Lawal Batagrawa left CAST taking up appointment as a Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State executive branch. The Second Republic was terminated by a military coup in 1983, and by then Umaru had left public service to work for his brother, Shehu Yar Adua – who was mixing business with sporadic forays into politics by then.

When the Babangida Administration announced its Transition to Civil Rule program in 1988, Umaru joined his brother’s right-of-center political association, the Peoples’ Front (PF) in an act of final separation from leftist politics. He was elected, in 1988, on non-party basis, a member of the Constituent Assembly whose deliberations led to the enactment of 1989 Constitution by the Babangida junta. When the military junta decreed a two-party system for the country in 1991, the Peoples’ Front opted to merge into the left-of-center Social Democratic Party (SDP) rather than the right-of-center National Republican Convention (NRC).

Umaru Yar’Adua was an active member of the SDP at national and state levels. He was Katsina State Secretary of SDP and member of the party’s National Caucus. He contested the Governorship of Katsina State in 1991 but lost to Saidu Barda of the NRC, in what many saw as rejection of what looked as monarchical rule in Nigeria - Shehu Yar’Adua was contesting the Nigerian Presidency while his kid brother wished to run his home state of Katsina!

From then on, things took turns for the worse for the Yar’Adua family. Shehu was arrested and detained by the Babangida junta, released and then disqualified from running for office. He was re-arrested and tried for treason, along with his former boss – Olusegun Obasanjo - by the Abacha junta in 1996. Umaru was compelled by circumstances to assume the supervision of Shehu’s vast political and business empire. Shehu died in prison under very questionable circumstances.

(Note - While in prison, Shehu Yar’Adua sent a note to his supporters that he had been invited to the office of the prison warden where he met Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, then Chief Security Officer to General Abacha, and two others he did not know. He was forcefully injected with a colorless liquid by the three persons. Shehu’s note added that he was not ill and has not had even a headache since the incident happened – a few days before he sent the note. Shehu died in Abakaliki Prison in 1997 - less than two years after the incidence. Many of his supporters believe he was injected with HIV or Hepatitis virus or both.)

When General Abdulsalami Abubakar assumed the leadership of the military junta after the sudden death of General Abacha in 1998, Umaru Yar’Adua teamed up with Shehu’s allies and formed the Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM). This movement merged with other disparate political groups to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998.

Even though Umaru was not the most popular aspirant for the governorship, there was near -unanimous consensus, with General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau as main advocate that the Yar’Adua family ought to be compensated for Shehu’s efforts and ultimate sacrifice for Nigeria’s democracy. This he argued will only be achieved by getting Umaru elected Governor of Katsina State. This led to several angry defections from the party by aspirants Kanti Bello, Nura Khalil and others to the rival All People’s Party (APP now ANPP). In a pattern that will repeat itself again and again in his political life, Umaru got the PDP ticket virtually without any effort due to the advocacy and sacrifice of others. He was elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 as Governor of Katsina State.

(Note - Lt-Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau has been a regular figure in all of Nigeria’s military juntas. He was at various times the Director of Military Intelligence to the Buhari regime, National Security Adviser to Babangida, and Obasanjo, and Chief of Army Staff to the Shonekan and Abacha Administrations. He contested against Umaru Yar’Adua in the 2007 presidential primaries and lost. He remains an influential power broker in Nigeria and respected by the intelligence community worldwide).

7. Governance of Katsina State

The PDP has from its inception, perfected the bad habit of expecting its candidates for political office to bear the disproportionate burden of campaign expenses. So Umaru got the ticket but had to raise monies for his governorship bid. As the head of the Yar’Adua family, he was assumed to be wealthy. This was far from the truth. By the time Shehu died in prison, most of the businesses were shut down or near bankruptcy except Habib Nigeria Bank. Nicotes Services had been expropriated by the Abacha junta, the name changed to Intels Logistics Services and the chairmanship transferred to the Emir of Kano. Under Umaru’s non-business supervision, the family fortune was virtually disappearing. Umaru had no money to spend on the Governorship.

A group of young professionals of Katsina State origin, who had made money from the Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF) program under the supervision of General Muhammadu Buhari, came to the rescue. Their leader was Tanimu Yakubu, an Economics graduate of Wagner College, New York, and included Dr. Aminu Safana and Ibrahim Shema. Nura Khalil was part of the group but decamped to the APP. Other ‘businessmen’ like Dahiru Mangal and Ahmadi Kurfi (both alleged to be professional smugglers) contributed financially to the Yar’Adua for Governor Campaign in 1998-99. Other notable figures include that played key mobilizing, but not direct financial roles included Lawal Batagrawa, Aminu Bello Masari and Samaila Mamman.

Umaru Yar’Adua’s deputy was nominated by the young professionals, though not one of them – Tukur Bakori. His governance style in Katsina from 1999-2007 was influenced by this history and relationships. Tanimu Yakubu became Commissioner of Finance, Dr. Safana was appointed the Secretary to the State Government while Ibrahim Shema became the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. These three persons would continue to play key roles in Umaru’s political life from 1999 to the present time.
Umaru Yar’Adua formed what he called Katsina Group of 11 (K-11) which then became group of 34 (K-34) which included his inner circle, Party leaders, State Assembly leadership and his campaign financiers as the main vehicle for the political control and governance of Katsina State. His wife Turai, and favorite daughter Zainab, were not members of K-34, but everyone in the state came to realize how influential they can be in getting the Governor to approve policies and contracts in record time.

Umaru then began a process of neutralizing all sources of checks and balance in the governance of the State. He ensured that only K-34 members became leaders in the state Legislature. He then faced the opposition parties in the State and through patronage; conversion and intimidation virtually decimated the APP by 2007. Kanti Bello and Nura Khalil all briefly returned to the PDP at some point during this period. By 2003, he had won over ANPP’s main hatchet man, Dr. Sayyadi Abba Ruma to the PDP. He appointed him Secretary to the State Government and persuaded Dr. Safana to run for the House of Representatives and move to Abuja. He also got Tanimu Yakubu – his then popular and effective Commissioner of Finance to move to Abuja as Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria.

What commentators said about these 'deployments' was that Umaru could not neither tolerate any opposition nor share the limelight with his initial financiers and supporters any longer! Others said he was rewarding loyalty, but the consensus was that Umaru was turning out to be an autocratic and insecure governor, but in a very nice, quiet and detached way.

Umaru’s introverted personality helped a great deal in his relations with the Federal Government. He hated travelling so hardly came to Abuja. He avoided most Governor’s meetings, and usually got his Deputy Governor to represent him. He interacted minimally with President Obasanjo and had a testy relationship with Atiku Abubakar right from their PF and SDP days.

His favorite official in Abuja was General Aliyu Mohammed, Obasanjo’s National Security Adviser, who continued to see him as Shehu’s kid brother. This meant that unlike most state governors who frequented Abuja Federal offices and the Lagos media houses to advance their political agendas, Umaru and Katsina State were virtually off the radar. He was also seen by Federal officials as an undemanding, simple and humble governor. All these were to play key roles in Umaru’s ascent to the Presidency.

In Katsina, Umaru spent the first 8 months of his governorship doing little but what he called ‘planning’. Actually, he inherited an empty treasury, a bloated civil service, huge pension arrears, and many construction projects started but abandoned half-way. The schools and hospitals were run down, and there were no resources to tackle them all at the same time. Tanimu Yakubu who was Finance Commissioner suggested that the state should just pay salaries until they have a firm handle on their books. Within 2 years, the books had been balanced, and helped by higher oil revenues and transfers from the Federal Government; the Katsina State Government cleared the pension arrears, reconciled domestic debts, and began the completion of abandoned projects.

In 2000, Katsina State became the fifth Northern State to adopt the Sharia Law. According to Wikipedia, in 2002, Amina Lawal, an unmarried woman from Bakori was sentenced to death by stoning by a Sharia court for adultery. The story attracted international attention but Umaru Yar’Adua refused to exercise his prerogative of mercy to pardon her. The sentence was initially upheld on appeal to a higher Sharia court in Funtua, but like all such cases in Nigeria at the time, was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Umaru Yar’Adua’s achievements as Governor are mixed depending on who you talk to. What is not in dispute was that the quality of schools and hospital buildings, urban and rural roads and fertilizer distribution system improved dramatically under his watch. But Katsina State’s performance in the two national high school graduation examinations – the NECO and SSCE has not improved. Indeed according to a very critical journalist , in both 2007 and 2008, the state was ranked the worst in both national examinations. In May 2007, another former adviser to Yar’Adua when he was governor in Katsina had made similar allegations regarding the actual quality of educational and health services in the State, as different from the quality of buildings!

(Note - See Sam Nda-Isaiah – “Between Yar’Adua and El-Rufai”, Leadership Newspaper, 20th April, 2009. www.leadershipniger php?view= article&catid= 2 accessed on 04/20/2009.)

Some of the critics of Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration suggest that the good buildings and roads resulted from the desire of the Governor to award construction contracts without any competitive bidding almost entirely to three companies that are closely related to him – Lodigiani Nigeria Ltd. (the Yar’Adua family business), B. Stabilini & Co. (Nigeria) Ltd., with Aliyu Bala Kuki (a close family friend), and Mangal Enterprises (Yar’Adua’s alleged campaign financier). What no one can take away from Governor Yar’Adua was that the jobs were executed and to acceptable quality unlike in most states in the Federation. This was attested to by Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, then Minister of Education when she visited Katsina early in 2007. Oby is now Vice President (Africa Region) at the World Bank.

(Note - Indeed, according to the BBC on 29th May 2007 ”Although he is reputed to be prudent in managing funds in Katsina State where he had been governor for the past seven years, critics say contracts have gone to companies with links to his family's vast businesses.” See http://news. 2/hi/africa/ 6187249.stm accessed 04/27/2009.)

Yar’Adua’s humble and austere personal lifestyle endeared him to many. He was not considered personally corrupt compared with other Governors. When Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s respected anti-corruption czar and then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced the names of ‘corrupt governors’, Umaru Yar’Adua was not on the list.

(Note - Nuhu Ribadu said Umaru’s name was initially on the list but he was persuaded to remove it by Lt-Gen Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (not Obasanjo) because “Umaru’s corruption was not personal, and was productive” relative to other venal Governors!). In the end, this piece of omission got Umaru the support of many of us for the presidency.)

8. Illness, Cure and Dreams of Being President

In 2001, the second year of his first term as Governor, Umaru’s health began to deteriorate. His mentor, General Aliyu Mohammed arranged for him to go to Germany for a comprehensive medical check-up. In Germany, he was diagnosed with renal failure and he was prescribed medication to supplement regular dialysis. In all he spent nearly six months in Germany, and as required by the Constitution, handed over the governance of the State to his Deputy, Tukur Bakori. Before departing for Germany, a spiritualist from neighboring Niger Republic had met Yar’Adua and informed him that his illness will miraculously disappear within a year, if certain prayers and sacrifices of animals were made. His influential wife, Turai ensured that these were done.

When he returned, he found that as Acting Governor, Bakori had allegedly squandered the state’s resources and embarked on several projects that the Governor was unhappy about. Umaru got his deputy impeached by the State Legislature within months of his return. Bakori decamped to the rival ANPP in protest. Umaru continued to undergo dialysis until his kidney functions miraculously improved. When he returned to Germany for another check-up in 2002, his kidney functions were found to have fully recovered, and a proposed transplant was unnecessary. Yar’Adua’s belief in his spiritualist from Niger Republic strengthened with this outcome.

It was around this period that Umaru claimed to have had a very vivid dream that he will be elected President to succeed President Obasanjo sometime in the near future. Umaru Yar’Adua believed that he had been shown the future. He therefore decided, and communicated this to his K-34 members that Obasanjo’s government and its policies must be supported fully and totally by every official of Katsina State – whether State or Federal, at a time when he had become increasingly unpopular in the North. This was quite courageous.

Some years later in 2006, Umaru Yar’Adua was one of the few Northern Governors that strongly supported Obasanjo’s bid for a Third Term in office. Indeed, he offered to host the zonal debates for the particularly sensitive North-West zone in Katsina. This led to protests in the city and at least two persons were shot and killed by law enforcement agents that confronted them. Umaru also directed all Katsina State representatives in the National Assembly to support the proposed Constitutional Amendment and expelled Aminu Bello Masari from K-34 for non-compliance with his wishes. One of the arrowheads of the Third Term in the National Assembly was Dr. Aminu Safana – Umaru’s former Secretary to the State Government. All Katsina PDP legislators except Dr. Usman Bugaje lined up to support the Third Term project till its defeat in the Senate in May 2006 .

9. Preparing to be President

As soon as ‘the Third Term Agenda’ collapsed in the Nigerian Senate, Obasanjo concluded that unless he found a way to acquire and sustain the loyalty of Nigeria’s powerful (and mostly corrupt) State Governors on the one hand, as well as his team of technocratic reformers on the other, his succession will be out of his hands. He took two steps – first he asked me and four other Abuja-based senior Federal and party officials to come up with a succession strategy. This kept the reformers which I was a key member engaged and loyal to him. He then announced that he expected to be succeeded by one of the State Governors and encouraged virtually all the PDP Governors to join the race to be President. These two moves ensured that his estranged Vice President Atiku Abubakar and other aspirants like General Ibrahim Babangida had few governors available to recruit to their camp.

We held several meetings and wrote most of the Succession Strategy Paper with the help of Tanimu Yakubu – now Yar’Adua’s Chief Economic Adviser who wrote the first draft in London in June 2006. We submitted the Strategy Paper and the budget of about N7 billion (US $56 million then) to President Obasanjo in August 2006. The paper is attached to this essay as Annex I. President Obasanjo thanked us and promptly filed it away and never adopted any of our recommendations. By then, virtually every PDP State Governor in Nigeria had declared the aspiration to be next president – except Umaru Yar’Adua! Obasanjo continued to be cagey, encouraging every one above the age of 30 to run for the exalted office.

Umaru Yar’Adua was finally invited by President Obasanjo to join the race through Governor Ayo Fayose initially, and this was actualized sometime in November 2006. According to then Governor Yar’Adua, when he visited me - the President sent Governor James Ibori of Delta State to see him in Katsina and invite him to pick the Presidential Nomination Form of the PDP. Umaru flew to Abuja in a private jet arranged by Obasanjo and Ibori the following day. By the time he got to Abuja, Ibori had already paid the N5 million (US $40,000) application fee and collected the form in Umaru’s name. He added that they met with Obasanjo and agreed that he should bid for the highest office with Obasanjo’s full support.

Over the next three months, I held several such meetings with Umaru, arranged other meetings between him and other stakeholders, raised money to support the candidacy and hired pollsters and publicists to handle some aspects of the effort. Umaru had several such meetings with State Governors and other power brokers within the PDP and outside before the Primaries scheduled for January 2007. The most notable of such included General Ibrahim Babangida, Aliko Dangote (the richest Black African in the World), Femi Otedola, Andy Uba and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State.

10. The Primaries and the Campaign

Umaru Yar’Adua’s anointment by President was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it almost ensured that he will be PDP’s candidate in April 2007 Presidential Elections, but throws up questions about Obasanjo’s motives and Yar’Adua’s suitability for the highest office in Africa’s largest nation. Because Yar’Adua’s medical history is fairly well-known, many Northern power brokers concluded that Yar’Adua’s selection by Obasanjo had some ulterior motives.

This concern came to the fore when Yar’Adua had to be flown to Germany for medical attention because of “a bad flu; arising from exhaustion” just before the primaries in December 2006. This is to happen again in March 2007, just weeks to the Elections. The failure of both Obasanjo and Yar’Adua to offer full disclosure about Umaru’s health has led to all kinds of conspiracy theories that continue to haunt the Yar’Adua presidency till today.

The primaries and the campaign were largely uneventful as everyone expected PDP to win whether the elections were free and fair or not. Only two events of significance took place during the period – the investigation of the finances of Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State by the EFCC and his subsequent exclusion from the primaries, and the insistence of Obasanjo and the PDP apparatchiks that Yar’Adua announced him as his running mate in an acceptance speech already prepared for that purpose.

At the night of the primaries, Umaru Yar’Adua sent for me and came out of the State Box at Eagle Square and intimated me of this. An acceptance speech had been prepared for him, containing the announcement of Peter Odili as running mate. This was not acceptable to him, but he was also unwilling to disagree with Obasanjo so early in the game. I suggested that he rallies the governors to oppose the decision to announce Odili as running mate, and decline the nomination if all else failed.

When this failed to change the combined minds of Obasanjo, Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Ali and Ojo Maduekwe, I came up with another "last resort". I sent people to wake up Nuhu Ribadu, then Chairman of EFCC to help persuade Obasanjo since all else appeared to have failed. It was not until about 5am that Ribadu succeeded in getting Odili off the ticket. The next morning, Governor Goodluck Jonathan was announced as the running mate to Umaru Yar’Adua instead of Peter Odili.

President Obasanjo then announced the Presidential Campaign Council with him as chairman. The only Yar’Adua nominee to the Council was Tanimu Yakubu who was to be Director of Finance. The premises used by the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign in 2003 were rented as the Yar’Adua-for-President Campaign Office. During the commissioning ceremony which I attended along with other PDP governors, ministers and leaders, Yar Adua announced his Seven Point Agenda which he said will form the basis of his contract with the people of Nigeria when elected:

1. Infrastructure particularly electricity and transportation
2. Niger Delta regional development
3. Food Security
4. Human Capital – investments in health, education and training
5. Land Reforms and home ownership
6. National Security, and
7. Wealth Creation

The President’s Economic Team which I became one of the de facto leaders when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resigned in 2006 began to brainstorm on how best to sustain the foundations laid by the reforms of 2003-2007 that we had spearheaded. We were quite concerned that the elections of April 2007 be free and fair. We were convinced that Yar’Adua and PDP would win and there was really no need to cheat or rig in any anyway. We needed to prove that to the politicians.

We therefore took the decision to hire campaign advisers for Yar’Adua, show that the Elections can b won - free and fair - and prepare briefing notes to bring him up to speed on the reform programs of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The campaign consultant was a consortium of Nigerian ad agency, (remember the PDP de ko ko ad?), (media/messaging) , British (campaign management/internat ional outreach), and American (polling and focus groups). The whole assignment cost about US $2 million over a three month period. We also prepared series of briefs titled - “Preparing to be President” as basis for discussions with the Presidential Candidate. The first of such briefs is attached to this essay as Annex 2.

11. The 2007 Presidential Elections, Transition and Handover

There were many concerns within Nigeria and abroad that the 2007 Elections may not hold. There were grounds for these concerns – Obasanjo had lost the trust of Nigerians after the inchoate attempt to amend the Constitution. The voters’ register was still not ready and published 90 days to the Elections as required by law. Biometric voters’ identification cards promised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not been issued, and there were cases of massive disqualifications of candidates, replacement of candidates by parties and several lawsuits arising therefrom that the levels of uncertainty in January to March 2007 were quite high.

The Elections took place amidst poor preparation and horrendous logistic failures. All the politicians and political parties were determined to rig the results without regard to the will of the voters. As Minister of Abuja, I was determined that the elections in the Federal Capital Territory were free and fair. I met with all political parties, INEC, regulatory and security agency heads and threatened that anyone involved in any electoral irregularity will be arrested by EFCC and prosecuted without delay. I was particularly harsh with the leadership of the ruling party which I was a member, as I knew they had the first-mover advantage in that area.

The FCT elections were violence-free and had very few reports of rigging. Nationwide, the elections were fraught with many documented irregularities. But most Nigerian citizens were generally relieved that the elections had actually taken place – warts and all, and that Obasanjo had not been given any excuse to declare any emergency to stay in power longer. Only a few of us in government knew different and no one would believe us anyway.

Immediately the results were announced, I became concerned about violence breaking out in the North particularly where the ANPP candidate Buhari enjoyed mainstream support. I suggested to Yar'Adua, and arranged a meeting between the leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) to meet with the President-Elect in the Abuja residence of its chairman, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, may his soul rest in peace. A subsequent meeting was held between Chief Awoniyi, Former Inspector-General Ibrahim Coomassie and Umaru Yar’Adua to cement ACF’s support to preach against any forms of extra-legal activities. This was helpful in encouraging all the candidates to pursue judicial remedies rather than the threatened "mass action".

President Obasanjo had instructed all ministers and heads of extra-ministerial agencies to prepare hand-over notes and submit to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation by the end of March 2007. However, face-to-face briefings of Yar’Adua and his team did not start until the third week of May 2007! Each Minister had 20-30 minutes to bring the President-Elect and his team up-to-date on the activities of the Ministry and its parastatals with branches all over the 36 states of the Federation! Only the Ministers of Finance and the Federal Capital Territory (because I supervised many other assignments in addition to Abuja; like the Civil Service Reform, Sale of Government Real Estate in Abuja, National ID Card System, the National Census, etc.) were given one and a half hours. The briefing in my view, served to confuse rather than assist Yar’Adua and his team! Yar'Adua's team then consisted of the VP-Elect, Babagana Kingibe, Governors Peter
Odili, James Ibori, and Ahmed Makarfi. The composition of the "team" should have indicated to us that change was not on the way in our country, but we were to naive to notice.

Early in the month of May, I received a letter from President-Elect Yar’Adua to send him the names and resumes of three persons for appointment into ‘senior government positions’ when he fully takes over. I requested a meeting with him to ascertain what positions he had in mind. He informed me that he wrote a similar to every State Governor or PDP Chairman as appropriate as he intended to nominate Ministers, Ambassadors and Chairmen of Statutory Corporations from the list. This distributive state-of-mind was the first sign for me that Yar’Adua was not on the right track. I suggested that if he chose his cabinet that way, he would end up with “not the best people”. He listened and thanked me for my views, but explained that his election was made possible by State Governors and PDP leaders and his first priority was keep them on his side, for the time being.

About the same time, Yar’Adua had asked me to work with a small group (Udoma Udo Udoma, Salihu Ibrahim, Isabella Okagbue, Tanimu Yakubu, Aliyu Modibbo, Dele Olojede and three others I cannot recall now) to work out the key priorities for his administration and provide inputs for his inaugural speech. We had a brief discussion with Yar’Adua, Tanimu Yakubu and Dr. Aliyu Modibbo on the areas closest to the President-Elect’s heart and began meeting in Hakeem Belo-Osagie' s office in Life Camp. Dele flew in from South Africa, met at leastr twice with Yar’Adua and worked with us until the hand-over. We learnt that another group of Governors were doing the same thing, and Baba Kingibe and Charles Soludo drafting another speech, but we moved on. These activities continued until the morning of May 29, 2007 when the Handing-Over Ceremony took place at Eagle Square, and Yar Adua got sworn in. We escorted President Obasanjo to his farm in Otta and returned to
Abuja the same evening.

I met with Yar Adua the neext day to intimate him of my plans - go on Umrah (Lesser Hajj), a two-week North Atlantic cruise, a short course at Harvard, complete my Law Degree and then back to Harvard for a longer fellowship. I also intimated Yar Adua of my plans to set up a policy advocacy think-tank, and invest in various ideas close to my heart. We agreed that I should meet with him when I am back from Umrah or the cruise.

The transition is complete. Now we can all get on with our lives, assured that we have elected a good man, who will build on the foundations we laid under Obasanjo, correct any human errors and move Nigeria on the path of its manifest destiny. I was relieved.

How wrong we all turned out to be!

12. Optimism, Expectations, and Early Steps

The Inaugural Speech that President Umaru Yar’Adua gave was inspiring and raised the nation’s hope and expectations. He admitted the flaws in the Elections that brought him to power and promised to set up a panel to study what happened so Nigerian can reform its electoral system. He promised a generational shift that will herald new governance from those born after Independence. He outlined what he referred to as four areas of “national consensus” – deepening democracy and the rule of law, a private sector driven economy, zero tolerance for corruption, and restructuring government for efficiency.

Yar’Adua undertook to rebuild infrastructure and human capital, accelerate economic reforms and address the Niger Delta issue. He pledged to create more jobs, lower interest rates, reduce inflation and maintain the stability of the exchange rate. He promised to make rail development a reality and achieve dramatic improvements in electricity supply. He said he was committed to being a ‘servant-leaders’ who will be a listener and a doer – who will tackle poverty and protect lives and property of all citizens. This speech will be the benchmark for evaluating Yar’Adua’s performance in office now, and forever, and we will rely on it in this essay.

The nation waited to see the first set of appointments that Yar’Adua will make – who would be his Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the National Security Advisor. He appointed Babagana Kingibe, then 62 years of age, an old-breed politician who was the vice-presidential running mate to late Chief M. K. O. Abiola in the 1993 Elections that were annulled by the Babangida military junta. He retained Obasanjo’s appointees for the other two key positions . All the three appointees were older than Yar’Adua and the promise of generational shift began to lose credence.

President Yar’Adua immediately published the details of his assets – an unprecedented move in Nigerian history that got many citizens excited and hopeful that a new dawn of openness had arrived. The assets declared however included 29 cars which were donations to his campaign organization and Umaru Yar’Adua claimed them personally. These cars were not strictly speaking personal assets, and furthermore the assets of his children of age remained undeclared, but grateful Nigerians overlooked these minor violations since they now know that their president and his spouse were worth only about $8 million! A few weeks later, Yar’Adua’s Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was compelled by media pressure to do declare his own assets. He was of more modest means than Yar’Adua.

President Yar’Adua invited all the political parties to nominate their representatives to join what he called an inclusive government of national unity. The ANPP overrode the objections of its presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, and nominated persons that were subsequently appointed into cabinet, advisory and sub-cabinet positions. The PPA also agreed to join, but the AC and APGA declined. An undisclosed part of the deal required the parties to withdraw any petitions they have filed challenging Yar’Adua’s election – something that neither Buhari (ANPP) nor Atiku Abubakar (AC) were willing to accept.

In July 2007, President Yar’Adua swore in a cabinet of 39 ministers that many commentators labeled “lackluster”. Each state of the Federation, except Lagos was represented, and most of them were selected from the lists forwarded by state governors and party leaders. Some states like Kano had two ministers – one representing the state PDP and another nominated by a key financier of the party. This was the second sign that the Yar’Adua administration was not going to depart from the distributive culture of appointments of previous administrations.

13. Promises vs. Accomplishments – Inaugural Speech v. Actual Deliverables

In what appears to be the most serious signal of retrogress, Yar’Adua’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice announced on August 6, 2007 that the ICPC and EFCC will now prosecute corruption and money laundering cases only with his express permission. The public reaction to this announcement was overwhelmingly against the administration. The next day, the administration backtracked and reversed itself. This became the beginning of a series of actions taken to weaken the war against corruption. A few months later, the BBC published a short story that described the state of the anti-corruption war, and things were to get much worse.

Some early policy reversals then followed:
(i) Increases in the prices of petroleum products were cancelled
(ii) The increase in the levels of value-added tax from 5% to 10% was cancelled, and
(iii) The hurried privatization of Kaduna and Port Harcourt Refineries were suspended.

This pattern of undoing virtually all the major decisions of the Obasanjo administration would continue with the suspension of funding of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) , the contract for the construction of the Lagos-Kano double track standard gauge rail system , and the proposed redenomination of Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Some of these reversals were quite costly as the Chinese are claiming $2.5bn cancellation costs and damages for the railways contract .

One of Yar’Adua’s positive first steps was the inauguration on August 28, 2007 of the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) under the chairmanship of respected jurist and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed L. Uwais. At that and other occasions, Yar’Adua emphasized the need for financial autonomy for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), emphasized that only credible elections will guarantee peace, and promised that by December 2009, a reformed electoral system will be in place in the country. The BBC expressed pessimism at the pace of electoral reforms in April 2008, in a story that turned out to be prescient by March 2009.

The initial dawn of optimism waxed and intensified as it became clear that Yar’Adua was not only NOT Obasanjo’s puppet , but intent on demystifying his predecessor’s eight years in office. Within a year, this view and expectation had waned as it became clear that nothing was getting done. Some critics of Yar’Adua gave him the nickname “Baba-go-slow” labeling the administration “All talk, no action”. This was reinforced by Yar’Adua’s interview with the Financial Times of London to commemorate his first year in office. By then, little had been achieved by way of outcomes but Yar’Adua said his administration was still “planning”:

“The quality of your planning, the quality of your programmes, determines the nature of their achievements.”

(Note - See BBC News, May 28, 2008 “Nigeria’s ‘Baba-go-slow’ one year on” at http://news. go/pr/fr/ -/2/hi/africa/ 7420327 accessed on 03/25/09 and ALSO See Financial Times, June 23, 2008 – “Umaru Yar’Adua: In pursuit of respect for the rule of law” online at http://www.ft. com/cms/s/ 0/e497845c- 3f43-11dd- 8fd9-0000779fd2a c.html?nclick_ check=1 accessed on 03/29/09)

In the same interview, Yar’Adua promised the following:

(1) The Niger Delta Summit will be held within eight weeks (i.e. end of July 2008),
(2) Restructuring of the NNPC will be completed in 12 months (by May 2009),
(3) National emergency on power will be declared soon (his spokesman in a later interview announced that this will be in July 2008),
(4) Regulations for the concessioning of airports, seaports and trunk roads will be published, and
(5) The next 12 months (to May 2009) will be “very, very interesting” year for Nigerians.

In his most recent interview with The Guardian (published on April 29-30, 2009), none of the above promises had been fulfilled or projects been completed, and indeed, it is now clear that nothing has changed by May 2009.

(Note - In this most recent press interview, it is clear that the administration is still planning what to do, and he admitted that his most important legacy will be “rule of law” without indicating how Nigerians can measure when that has been achieved. See the Guardian April 29 and 30, 2009 – “The President’s Interview” online at http://www.ngrguard news/article00/ /indexn2_ html?pdate= 010509&ptitle= THE%20PRESIDENT% 27S%20INTERVIEW accessed April 30, 2009.)

It was in the reversal of the war against corruption that the Yar’Adua administration did the most damage to its credibility with Nigerians and the international community. The systematic destruction of the EFCC by the Yar’Adua administration began as soon as James Ibori – former governor of Delta State (and a recruiter, ally and financier of Yar’Adua), was charged for money laundering and corruption at the Federal High Court in December 2007 . Ibori and his two wives faced similar charges in UK courts. A quick succession of events led to the extra-legal removal, demotion, and dismissal of the EFCC’s respected chairman – Nuhu Ribadu, and the deployment of all the investigating EFCC staff trained by the FBI and London Metropolitan Police. Two attempts were made on Ribadu’s life and he is currently on exile as a visiting fellow at Oxford University, UK and Center for Global Development, USA. In a detailed interview with PBS, Ribadu recounted
his experience, concluding that “when you fight corruption, it fights back”.

Since the firing of Ribadu, all the case files on the so-called 31 corrupt governors have disappeared or declared non-existent by Farida Waziri, his successor at EFCC. The cases already in court have been withdrawn, delayed or settled in what many consider dodgy plea-bargains, like Igbenidion's. Other well-known cases of corruption that the administration has blatantly refused to prosecute include bribery payments by Willbros – an oil services company, corruption involving Siemens – a German engineering company (in which senior PDP leaders collected $10 million in bribes) and the well-known Halliburton/ KBR case in which $180 million were pocketed by various officials.

Yar’Adua’s wife is widely believed to be engaged in influence-peddling and all manner of interventions in public procurement and executive appointments – something documented so clearly and accurately by Nigerian bloggers based mostly in the USA. The successive weddings of Yar’Adua’s daughters to state governors is being perceived as an attempt to recreate a new feudal dynasty in Nigeria.

(Note - Perhaps the most influential and factual of all the bloggers is Omoyele Sowore of Saharareporters. A public administration graduate of Columbia University, he is based in New York and has been the scourge of both the Obasanjo and Yar’Adua administrations. See www.saharareporters .com for regular revelations and photographs of the First Family. Two of Yar’Adua’s daughters have married first-term state governors. The third is expected to marry either a serving Minister or a wealthy, Lagos-based gasoline importer whose company is known as ‘Rahmaniyya’.)

In the area of foreign relations, Yar’Adua’s administration has been virtually off the African radar. He visited the USA early in his tenure – in December 2007 where he expressed the desire to partner with the US on Africom. Upon return to Nigeria, he denied making such a commitment. He has shown a preference for economic relations with Russians (Gazprom), Iranians (Nuclear Energy Power MoU) and Germans (Energy Partnership for non-prosecution of Siemens bribes) than most other advanced nations of the world. He addressed the South African Parliament in June, 2008 and avoided most international forums since then. There are unconfirmed speculations that the state of his health does not allow for long trans-continental flights, but the health of our President is the nation’s most closely guarded secret.

Electoral reforms have not fared much better either. The Uwais ERC submitted its report and recommendations but the government’s White Paper rejected many of the far reaching recommendations. The recommendations if accepted and implemented would have granted INEC latitude to be free of executive control and end electoral manipulation . The reluctance of Yar’Adua to remove the discredited head of INEC – Maurice Iwu has fuelled speculations that Yar’Adua no longer wants any such reforms. Respected commentators like Femi Falana, President of the African Bar Association gave a scathing assessment of the White Paper .

The sum total of all these is a climate of cynicism – a feeling that the administration is weak in policymaking and implementation , focused on destroying functioning institutions and using “rule of law” as a slogan to do nothing, and that the so-called rule of law is observed only in breach. The uncertainties and policy reversals scared portfolio investors who began to divest from the once-most-profitabl e stock market in Africa – the Nigerian capital market.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (See EIU Viewswire, March 18, 2009 – Nigeria: Finance Outlook online at http://portal. prod1.hul. index.asp? layout=dis, Accessed on 03/31/2009) , the market fell from a high of 65,000 points in March 2008 to about 21,000 in March 2009 – a loss of two-thirds of market and the worst stock market collapse in the world. And this began well before the global financial crisis hit late in 2008. The macroeconomic stability that Nigeria had enjoyed for almost five years has been dissipated as the Naira lost nearly 30% of its value in 2009 alone . Reserves have declined as the authorities tried to defend the Naira in the currency markets.

It appears that there is still no clear economic strategy. This led one commentator to ask whether the administration cared about the economy. The Planning Minister Dr. Shamsudeen Usman announced in March 2009 that the documents articulating Seven Point Agenda, National Development Plan and Vision 20-2020 which the administration had been talking about since May 2007 will be released in October 2009. One wonders what has guided state policy since May 2007, and what would guide policy from now till October 2009!

14. Has Yar’Adua Delivered “Political Goods”?

Rotberg (2007) identified eight categories of ‘political goods’ which comprise good governance and separate good performers from poor performers. Based on our review of Yar’Adua’s
pronouncements, decisions and actions so far, an attempt will be made to assess the quality of
his governance.

As far as human security is concerned, it would appear that things have either remained the same at best or got a little worse. The Niger Delta issue has not been addressed. Attacks on pipelines and flow stations persist, and kidnappings have increased exponetially. The much-vaunted “Niger Delta Summit” is yet to take place. An important report produced by a technical committee set up by the Yar’Adua administration is yet to be approved for implementation since submission in November 2008. The quality of the Nigeria Police remains poor but a committee on Police Reform submitted a report which is expected to be implemented with financial contributions between the states and the Federal Government.

(Note - See for instance, International Crisis Group Briefing – “Seizing the moment in the Niger Delta” which strongly recommended the implementation of the Ledum Mittee Technical Committee Report, online at http://www.crisisgr index.cfm? id=6080&l= 1 accessed 04/30/09.)

Rule of law is one thing President Yar’Adua would like to be remembered for. How he will be
remembered is of course too early to tell. There is a lot of sloganeering about rule of law, but with Andoakaa, Okiro and Waziri as the public faces of this, the Nigerian media and civil society are rightly skeptical. In reality, the Nigerian state is yet to provide “predictable, recognizable, systematized methods of adjudicating disputes and regulating norms…and mores of society….” (Rotberg). Time will tell whether Yar’Adua ‘s administration will take the right steps in putting these in place.

The third political good is free and open participation in the political process – do Nigerians
have political rights? Some rights certainly do exist, but one can say, not enough. Votes matter
little in elections in many parts of Nigeria in 2007 and now. The recent attempt by the PDP to
win the elections re‐run in Ekiti at all costs remains an unfolding drama that will test whether
Yar’Adua is willing to deepen and broaden these political rights if that will lead to his person and party being voted out of office. While we will wait and see how it all plays out, both Ekiti and other re-runs so far show clearly that this sacrifice will be too much to bear for Yar'Adua, family and political dependents.

Economic opportunity is the fourth political good, and provides a platform for a citizen to
pursue and realize his economic potential. This exists in Nigeria, but the expansion of state
intervention, contrary what Yar’Adua promised in his inaugural speech may threaten that
unless checked urgently. To exploit the market opportunities, maintaining macroeconomic stability is vital and sound money necessary. It would appear that under Yar’Adua’s watch, both have deteriorated, and this has been aggravated by the global economic crisis.

Investments in human capital – education, health and social services, and in physical
infrastructure are necessary for a productive populace and connection of markets for goods
and services. The administration has done little to add to the inherited levels of the supply of these goods. In Nigeria today, electricity generation has fallen from 3,200MW in May 2007 to
less than 1,000MW and all inherited power investments put on hold while being endlessly
investigated and falsehood propagated to discredit badly-needed investment decisions. The railway investments have been suspended too, but the privately‐owned telecoms sector continues to boom – over 50 million Nigerian now carry cell‐phones.

15. Yar’Adua’s Governance on the African Leadership Index

What appears to be the heartbreaking story of reversals in Nigeria indicates the truth of the
proposition that in Africa, more than anywhere else, individual leadership is more decisive of
outcomes than anything else. From Obasanjo to Yar’Adua, Nigeria has changed so much, mostly
for the worse, that one wonders whether Obasanjo’s successor was hand‐picked, of the same
party and of the highest level of education than any leaders has ever had!

a. Vision: Yar’Adua has not within his first two years articulated a clear vision. The
Vision 20‐2020 inherited from Obasanjo has not been detailed into strategies,
programs, plans and timelines. NEEDS has been dumped and the Seven Point
Agenda has become the butt of jokes.

b. Transformational or Transactional Leadership?: Yar’Adua is certainly not a transformational
leader. The activities of those around him, particularly his family would point to him
being a transactional leader, but perhaps too early to conclude.

c. Hedgehog or Fox?: Yar’Adua does not seem to have one good overarching idea that
he relentlessly pursues. Even his “rule of law” idea is not fully understood and
respected by his inner circle, his attorney general and family. The administration
seems unfocused and in the words of a critic, ‘clueless!’

d. Effective mobilization of Citizenry: Yar’Adua had a unique opportunity after his
inaugural address to build on the desire of Nigerians for change to mobilize them,
build consensus and sell a vision higher than their personal interests – but blew it within months due
to policy reversals and intentional unraveling of the popular anti‐corruption war.

e. An Inclusive Leader? Yar’Adua’s limited knowledge of Nigeria and the world (for instance - he had
never visited more than a handful states in Nigeria before joining the presidential race, and never been to the USA until he came to visit President Bush in December 2007) and his introverted nature made him easy to capture by a small clique (K-4) now called “the Katsina Mafia”. Since coming into office, he has appointed a disproportionate number of Northerners to virtually all the important ministries, departments and agencies. This has drawn the ire of other parts of the country, particularly the South‐West and the Niger Delta. Yar’Adua has therefore failed to show he can be a universalist and comes across as sectional, or even worse, clannish.

f. Democratic by design, expression and example? – Certainly not. Right from his days
as governor of Katsina, Yar’Adua is known to be taciturn, intolerant of dissent, and not open to disgreeable opinions. He prefers pre‐arranged selections using caucuses like K-11, K-34 to open, transparent and competitive politics. Yar’Adua is not democratic by design or example, but speaks a lot
about being democratic! He is not known to be consultative or participatory. He promised to be a servant‐leader – a listener and doer – and failed to be ‐ so far.

g. Building Social Capital on a National Scale? – This would have been possible if Yar’Adua had seized the moment and kept the momentum of his Inaugural Address. Sadly, he lost it due to poor decisions taken early in the life of the administration retaining geriatrics in office (and bringing in many more, later), fraternizing with corrupt ex‐governors and blocking the anti‐corruption war. In his recent Guardian interview, he clearly articulated a preference for his 'fellowship' with the corrupt governors to the integrity of his person, the presidency and the nation. James Ibori and Company are more important to Yar'Adua than 150 million Nigerians!

h. Alignment of Means and Ends? – Yar’Adua inherited a sound, debt‐free economy.
During his tenure, oil prices rose as high as $147 per barrel. The excess crude account and reserves were in excess of $60 billion. Yet, he failed to appreciate the good fortune, and dissipated most of the excess crude account. Foreign reserves are down to levels lower than in 2007 in a classical proof of failure to align means and ends. More alarming are news reports of Yar'Adua's intention to borrow from the Eurodollar market to finance a self-created budet deficit - a slippery slope to Paris Club bondage for the next generation of Nigerians which our administration got Nigeria out of in 2005, while Umaru was relaxing in Katsina!

i. Building Trust: For the reasons already outlined, the levels of trust in Nigeria have
fallen under Yar’Adua’s watch. The crisis in Jos, and in Ekiti both resulted from suspicions rooted not in ethnicity or religion, but manipulation of electoral contests. Yar’Adua’s antecedents in Katsina suggest that he considers electoral victory a higher priority than anything else. Things may get worse in this
area before they get better.

j. Intellectual Honesty and Integrity: Yar’Adua does not seem to have a national vision and self‐mastery. He has not shown prudence and ability to solve problems. Instead, he has created problems where none existed and aggravated some that he inherited. Though he appears thoughtful and deliberate, his actions seem to reveal deep‐seated insecurity to prove that he has absolute power. The case of the persecution of Nuhu Ribadu and Yar'Adua's comment thereon in his recent Guardian interview reveals more about the President’s character, sense of priorities and loyalties than anything he has said or done since coming into office.

k. Legitimacy: Yar’Adua came into the presidency through an election which observers within and outside Nigeria have condemned as the worst in our history. For nearly one‐and‐half years, his presidency was threatened by what the Election Tribunal will decide. These legitimacy challenges which were not helped by 4‐3 split decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court on the presidential election. Yar’Adua enjoyed a wave of initial popularity that would have overcome this challenge, but he lost that within months due to some of his own ill‐advised appointments, decisions and inactions. Though he is not personally ostentatious, the association with corrupt governors and dodgy businessmen, the elaborate weddings of his two daughters and the many stories of his wife have put question marks on his true levels of modesty, honesty and integrity.

l. Feeling of a National Transcendent Enterprise? – Not really. When all the above are put together, many Nigerians today feel a sense of loss – something is missing in the leadership equation. Even those that despised Obasanjo’s autocratic ways thought that at leat, Obasanjo made us slightly more proud to be Nigerians than in the last two years. Yar'Adua's failure to lead ahs made us all feel somewhat smaller as Nigerians, particularly when President Obama's first visit to Africa would be to Ghana, not Nigeria.

16. Conclusions and Way Forward

As I write this essay, President Umaru Yar’Adua’s associates have started his campaign for a
second term in office. That he is still ‘planning’ the first term and there are concerns about his
health have not discouraged the campaigners. As is usual with Yar’Adua, he will publicly decry
their activities, but privately get his inner circleto encourage and fund the protagonists!

Every Nigerian hopes Yar’Adua’s administration will start delivering those political goods which every
society is entitled to, and what Yar’Adua promised in his Inaugural Address. But the strength of
the hope dwindles with each passing day. As Nigerians, we must raise our voices to demand for these goods, and pray for our leaders to appreciate that they are in office to solve societal problems - not just to make a few friends, relations and cronies better off.

In my considerecview, three issues cry for attention in Nigeria, and which if addressed will enable the country resolve its numerous challenges in the long run – electoral reform to make votes count,
investments in physical and human infrstructure, and security and improved governance of the states in the Niger Delta. These translate into Free Elections, More Electricity, No Fuel Queues, Organized Multimodal Transport, Better Schools, Well-Paid Public Servants, Affordable Housing and Healthcare for all - and are within our grasp within years if we have leadership that cares, and builds upon the work of predecessors rather than engage in endless and fruitless destruction we have seen in 2007-2009.

The issues listed above should command the attention of all Nigerians that care, as well as friends of Nigeria – and Africa. As a Nigerian, I hope we start in the last two years of Yar’Adua’s tenure. As he said at the end of his Inaugural Address, which he may have forgotten:

“The challenge is great. The goal is clear. The time is now.”

It is our duty to remind President Yar'Adua of these constantly and require him to live up to his promises. Those that remain silent, in anticipation of some recognition, an appointment in government, an inflated contract, that lovely plot in Abuja or the safety and comfort of their current situations are betraying the Nigerian nation and even Yar'Adua himself. It is only because we care that we take risks. It is because we love that we sacrifice. Let us all care for and crave a better future for our children by insisting on better governance and management of our affairs. We are entitled to nothing less.