FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiWednesday, March 21, 2007
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ubochit@yahoo.com
Bonn, Germany

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ODILI VS YAR´ADUA; OBASANJO`S DILEMMA DURING THE PDP NATIONAL CONVENTION


here must be something in politics that make politicians to go crazy once in office. Why does power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely?


Politics is “the art of the possible”. Politics has to do with “who gets what, when, how and why”. In politics there is no permanent friend or enemy, but, permanent interest. There is also no morality in politics.

Every human being is a political “animal” and practices politics every day in one way or the other. For example, the decision of a house wife to cook rice instead of beans is politics in a way, that may be to please her husband or children who like rice more than beans.

The decision of the man to buy a house where he is living instead of building one in his village has atom of politics in it. The point I am trying to make is that, it is not only politicians that practice politics.

Somebody doesn’t have to be a political scientist to be a good politician. Infact, some of those that read political sciences might not go into politics in their life time, whereas the best politicians are people outside the field.

Bill Clinton – one of the best politicians and one of the best presidents ever produced in America, Tony Blair of United Kingdom, Barack Obama – the rising star of American politics, Nelson Mandela, and to bring it down home, Governor Duke of Cross River State, are not political scientists, but, they excelled in politics.

Governor Odili failed to have a complete grasp of what politics is all about, that was why he blew the greatest chance the people of former Eastern Region had to ascend to the “throne”. He made unpardonable mistakes. He failed to understand that too much familiarity breeds contempt. He forgot that “he that must eat with the devil must take a long spoon” and that “when greeting passes the elbow, it means then another thing”.

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Who is Governor Peter Odili?

Dr. Peter Odili who is the governor of Rivers State is from Ogbaru Clan of Ndoni community which geographically spreads from the Onitsha end of the Niger Bridge, on both banks of the river, down into what is known today as Rivers state. He attended CKC Onitsha, and was their football captain in his days and studied medicine at UNN.

Assuming Gov. Odili as an Igbo from South- South geopolitical zone is the PDP flagbearer, he would have served as a bridge between the aspiration of the South- South and South-East. As a president, he would have naturally had the unprecedented advantage of having two geopolitical zones as his/her home base. His wife is from Mbaise in Imo state.

When he made his intentions know that he will go for the plum job; subtle efforts was made to position him as a man to succeed Obasanjo in the face of ceaseless crises that have befallen the area in recent years and the need to placate them. And his supposed close relationship to Obasanjo made matters appear very real for him and one thought it was only a matter of time for the emergence of President Peter Odili. Even the South-Easterners were ready to get into political marriage with the South-Southerners to support Odili as a compromise candidate.

Who Stopped Odili?

It was Nuhu Ribadu that single-handedly scuttled the Presidential ambitions of Peter Odili before Govs. Ibori and Saraki finished the assignment. Ribadu made it clear to Obasanjo earlier enough that there is no way he would be alive to see Odili the President of the Republic having watched from the sideline how he mismanaged the resources of his state coupled with mountain of petitions against him.

To prove this point, Daily Independent of March 13, 2007 wrote this:

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, confirmed in London on Monday that Rivers Governor, Peter Odili, was one of those stopped from contesting for the Presidency because of corruption. "There’s nobody we dealt with like Odili in Nigeria," he said in a paper he delivered at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)."(Odili) would have been President. We stopped him. We even stopped his boy from becoming governor." Ribadu admitted that the EFCC is not able to prosecute every one found culpable but insisted that no lies have been fabricated against anyone to stop him from fulfilling his political ambition. "We’re not 100 per cent okay, but whatever is done is genuine. It’s not a fight against Obasanjo’s enemies." Corrupt politicians "are shameless people. They’ve institutionalised themselves. They’re the ones who will buy a house in Washington and put a wife there."………." The anti-corruption crusade has saved Nigeria from career corrupt politicians, Ribadu stressed, recalling that prior to measures being put in place by the EFCC, "within two to three days of collecting federal allocation for their states, some governors took the money abroad and converted it into their personal use. Some of them will be on the run after May when their immunity expires. One individual owns 147 properties."

A day before the PDP national convention of December 16, 2006, Odili had a quarrel with Ribadu at Aso Rock when Obasanjo invited the two to give Odili the bad news that he can’t be the PDP presidential candidate. Odili would have been impeached and now in jail left to Ribadu alone, but, Obasanjo saved him, at least recognising and appreciating all he did for him and their party.

Some of the reasons why EFCC scuttled the presidential ambition of the “golden” governor were : his "Father Christmas" life style, he made heavy donations across Nigeria to worthy and sometimes unworthy programs; the Cadbury deal; the over inflated cost of building the 150 MW Omoku Gas Turbine and Power Transmission Line; his relationship with Arik Airlines and some oil deals.

Squandering

The EFCC discovered that Governor Peter Odili has in one fell swoop “misappropriated” N200 billion. This might not be all that he mismanaged. There were reports of Government officials, their cronies and siblings’ bank accounts swelling with billions of public money. A whooping sum of N20 billion was found in the bank account of Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the long time crony of Governor Peter Odili, the longest serving Speaker of a state House of Assembly in the country and Odili´s anointed successor until EFCC scuttled that ambition.

Governor Peter Odili, who happens to be one of those few indigenous governors of Rivers State with all the money at his disposal, had a golden opportunity to leave land mark developments in Rivers State but he squandered the chance.

Odili traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria campaigning before the PDP national convention and spending in the process huge amount of money that could only have come from the State treasury. He received chieftaincy titles from different traditional institutions in the country all in the efforts to project his national acceptance and to herald his ascendance to the throne come 2007.

Odili´s generosity and his lack of accountability haunted him at the end and upon his strong personality, his free disposition with money worked against him in favour of a fiscal conservative candidate like Yar´Adua. Odili is everything Yar´Adua is not and vice versa.

Rivers State may still rank among the richest in the country because of crude oil deposits and natural endowment. The state is self-sufficient in food production having rivers which supply rich sea foods and also rich soil for crop production coupled with the rich mangrove and rain forests supporting a variety of economic activities.

Rivers State’s sources of income are as follows:

With such glut of cash at the disposal of Governor Odili and his government, the question became: What to do with money?

Governor Odili faults are as follows:

He sponsors every event whether necessary or not.

He is the chief financier of PDP, at least, up till December, 2006.

He sponsored every Obasanjo’s “war” with any National Assembly Officer.

Any visiting PDP National Officer to the state will have a bag of money to take away with.

Odili and Governor Chimaraoke Nnamani of Enugu State bankrolled the Third term campaigns.

It was reported that Governor Odili made donations to some destitute homes in USA. There is nothing wrong with helping the downtrodden, but, in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general, there are millions of destitute and less privileged people. Odili forgot the saying that “It is better to do a good deed near home than go far away to burn incense”.

The huge amount of money coming into the state’s coffer made no positive impacts in the lives of the state’s citizens and there aren’t much infrastructural developments to show for it.

For a State like Rivers that receives an average of N10 billion monthly from the federation account, much more would be expected from the Governor, but there isn’t much to show for it on the ground.

Despite taking charge of one of the largest remittances of any Nigerian state, there is little that the Odili government can show for it in Rivers state. Power remains epileptic in a state that has some of the largest reserves of oil in the country.

Odili gave some money to the Ghanaian national team when they lost three goals to nil to the Eagles in Port-Harcourt in the last match leading to our qualification for the World Cup of 2002 in Japan/Korea. What for?

River State is one-city state. Governor Odili should have done something about it; after all, there is enough money to execute new projects, if he wanted.

I was in Port Harcourt last January, the city is being rubbished by the increasing number of refuse dumps in various parts of the capital, just as some of the streets, especially in Diobu area, are crying for government’s attention. The Mile One Market end of Ikwerre Road, Oil Mill Market, the Eleme Junction Roundabout in Aba Road, the Mile Three areas and the Ikoku end of the town are all facing similar problems.

Odili built a Government house called “Brick House” and a State House of Assembly that are all imposing. The contracts for the construction of these masterpieces were inflated. What good is imposing structures when the citizens are hungry, can’t find jobs, workers are being owed etc?

Violence in Rivers State is endemic with one report accusing the state government of sponsoring it. Ironically, this is a state known hitherto for its tranquillity.

Governor Odili was too desperate

Odili should have known that desperation for power could be counterproductive.

Governor Odili is like a barber’s chair; its position is always determined by the Barber. He is a habitual compromiser who will do anything just to remain in power and in control, because he hates having a dissenting opinion, or trying something new. He lacks consistency in what he say and what he do, Odili can blow hot today and blow cold tomorrow, as long as his personal survival is not threatened. He always trust on his judgment or ability to be able to defend whatever position he takes at any given point, regardless of the cost to him or the people he professes to lead. He understands Machiavelli’s theory “the end justifies the means” well, and all other collateral damages arising out of his decision or indecision are to be ignored or simply set aside as irrelevant.

Odili was busy pleasing Obasanjo and Tony Anenih. No one should be surprise because Odili was treading a familiar and his usual path. What he did between 1999 and 2006, he did for Abacha in the past and it haunted him during the 1999 elections in Rivers state. The only difference this time around is that by a single effort he negotiated away a life long aspiration of his people.

Dr Odili during the Abacha era was the National Secretary of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), one of the five parties that wanted Abacha to be their sole presidential candidate. Dr Odili was the person that announced that Abacha should come and carry the flag of DPN at the presidential election of that year. Few days in Abuja before Abacha died. Odili told every one that was listening that Abacha was the only man who could rule Nigeria without the nation disintegrating.

Ironically, Odili having the rare opportunity to excel in politics is rather having only embarrassment, humiliation and disgrace.

Governor Odili was so desperate to be president and that might have led him into corruption, just like people that want riches by all means and in that process are being duped or they get into something that they will later regret.

In Port Harcourt, one sees several billboards with the pictures of Odili and Obasanjo at strategic locations with captions like “the governor and people of Rivers State stand with President Obasanjo”, "Rivers State will stand by you, President Obasanjo, come rain come sunshine", “Welcome to your second home Mr. President” and many more.

Odili might have bankrolled many of the Obasanjo and PDP projects all to win the president’s favour.

My heart goes out to Peter Odili. He was one of the contestants that invested the biggest amount of time and money into the campaign but lost all at the end. I blame him for his plight; he was so subservient to Obasanjo. He named a lot of things in Rivers State after Obasanjo and his family just to curry his favours and while doing these, he got himself steeped into corruption. Some roads or structures in Rivers State are named after Obasanjo and his family. The state Taxis are named after Stella Obasanjo. Obasanjo visited Rivers State more than any other state in Nigeria. The Governor forget the saying “when you want to test the depths of a stream, don’t use both feet” and that “a known enemy is dangerous, but a false friend is worse”.

I must be sincere by saying that what somebody sees in Rivers State does not in any way reflect the huge amount of money that comes into the state’s coffer. Odili mismanaged the state’s revenue just to please Obasanjo and the king makers and still lost out in the end.

I hope the level of corruption in that state will not land him where he never dreamt of after May, 2007.

A state government buying two brand new aircrafts for the use of its officials instead of catering to its people and paying salaries on time is unexplainable. The fact of the matter is that the governor and the state officials bought themselves private jets. Pure and simple! Even if one of them is an ambulance, the question then is: Which ordinary Nigerian can afford to board that aircraft or the Presidential jet to United Kingdom or Germany or Spain or America for treatment? Only Yar´Adua, Atiku, Odili, their political aids, their family members and their cronies can afford that luxury.

The Guardian of January 5, 2006 wrote that the first plane bought by Rivers State Government with registration number 5N RSG, was christened "Lady Queen of Victory" in commemoration of President Olusegun Obasanjo's victory at the Supreme Court in the electoral case between him and the former ANPP presidential candidate in the 2003 polls, Gen. Mohammad Buhari (rtd).

Enemies at home

The Ogoni and Ijaw people loathe Odili from the start. They even see him as an Igbo man that has no business representing south-south people.

Tam David-West and Chief Edwin Clarke were quoted as saying that the chance of the Niger Delta should not be taken over by proxy by people who are not from the zone.

The problem is that Odili never came out to declare his ethnicity. Having found himself in Rivers State did not take away his Igboness.

The people of Igbo descent who found themselves in Rivers and Delta States respectively are denying their Igboness at their own detriment. While denying that they are Igbos, their new “found” origins are as well not paying them well.

The best approach for them is to join forces with their Igbo brothers and sisters and fight for justice within Nigeria. By doing this, the Ikwerres and the Ika-Igbos will be liberated physically and spiritually and will be better placed to take their rightful place politically and economically in Nigeria.

Just a little story from my experience last January:

I was at Mile 3, Port Harcourt in January to see an in-law marrying a distant cousin of mine. This was my first time meeting this man. They are owners of the land where University of Science and Technology is situated; they gave the land to the government. For those that don’t know, Port Harcourt is Igbo town formerly known as “Alaocha”.

When I arrived, the man started communicating with me in English but I forced him to speak Igbo and to my surprise, his Igbo were as good as mine. Unfortunately, none of his three children can speak the mainland Igbo because nobody is teaching it to them.

I want to tell the Igbos of Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom States respectively to start teaching their children in addition to their dialect, Igbo and English languages respectively, so that their children will be able to mingle up well later. Whether those Igbos from the three states I mentioned above accept it or not, they are Igbos. They will one day come back to their senses and then back into the Igbo fold after the turn around that will happen soon.

When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the city was sacked, the Israelites dispersed all over the world, the dislocated Jews and the ones already in Europe then began to hide their Jewish identities including names and language for fear of persecution. After 1948, when modern Israel was established, those Jews that hid their identities, names and language hitherto, started brandishing their Jewish identities, names and language all over again.

During the Second World War, Adolf Hitler of Germany and his men killed or gassed about 6 million Jews to death and during the Nigerian civil war, Gowon and his men killed about 3 million Igbos through guns, bombs and starvation.

I understand why the Igbos of Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom States respectively are behaving the way they are doing now; no body want to identify with failure. They see the Mainland Igbos as failures having lost the war, but, I want to assure them that “the scions of Israel” will be taking up their rightful place in Nigeria again. The children of King David will be reaching the “promise land” soon.

It is unfortunate that some of the Ogoni and Ijaw leaders like Prof. Tam David-West, Chief Edwin Clarke (who convinced the then Nigerian government to reject the Aburi Accord of 1967 that should have granted Eastern Nigeria including part of his Ijaw nation, confederate status within the Nigerian nation) and many others, see Odili more as an Igbo than as a Nigerian. These are some of the leaders that played great part against the Igbos during the civil war and their attitudes against the Igbos are now the modern Ijaw or Ogoni political philosophies. Their systematic indoctrination of innocent new generation of the Ijaws and Ogonis with such Igbo phobia will not take them any where. It is all un-necessary.

Igbos can be of great help to the Ogonis and Ijaws. The late Chief Ken Saro-Wiwa, upon all he did against the Igbos during and after the war and how he connived with others to seize the Igbo properties in Port Harcourt after the war, using his newspaper column to write rubbish about the Igbos then, appeared uninvited at an Ohaneze meeting in 1994, asking his Igbo neighbours to help him in his struggle for the emancipation of the Ogoni people. Every one present was surprised with Saro-Wiwa visit and he was warmly received at the meeting in a true brotherly re-union. It was really an emotional situation.

The Igbos through the Ohaneze Ndigbo then offered to help in one way or the other to see his agitation realised, unfortunately, before anything could be done, he was callously hanged by Abacha. Worthy of mentioning is how Chief Mbakwe reminded every body present in that meeting of the inter-relationship between the Igbos and the Ogonis by saying that while the Easterners was looking for a name for their new nation then, that it was an Ogoni man (Frank Opugo) who suggested the name Biafra. So the Ogoni and Ijaw brothers and sisters should not see the Igbos as “enemies” but as friends. There are lots that should unite the Igbos, the Ogonis and the Ijaws than that that should separate them.

It is unfortunate that some leaders of the minorities, mostly of the Eastern extraction have boasted that if not for their contributions Nigeria could not have survived and stayed together. In other words, they were responsible for making the Biafran dream impossible. These are people like Tam David-West, Chief Edwin Clarke, Anthony Enahoro etc and their comments against the presidential ambition of Governor Odili confirmed this.

Who is Yar´Adua?

Alhaji Umaru Yar´Adua, 51, the governor of Katsina State, is better known as the younger brother of the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar´Adua. The late Yar´Adua was the Chief of General Staff and second in command to President Olusegun Obasanjo, when he was military head of state between 1976 and 1979.

Umaru Yar´Adua has attributes which are not readily associated with most politicians of his era. He is quiet, humble, taciturn and largely unassuming. His emergence in1999 as governor was regarded as a product of the influence of the political platform, the Progressive Democratic Movement (PDM), set up by his late brother. He however comes from a politically active family. Besides the late General Yar´Adua, his father Musa Yar´Adua was the Minister of Lagos Affairs in the First Republic, a chieftain of the conservative Northern Peoples Congress (NPC). The Governor is an independent minded politician; he took to his own political course quite early.

The governor graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with graduate and postgraduate degrees in Chemistry. A former chemistry teacher, the governor is one of the few serving governors not being investigated for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In Katsina State, he put a prudent system of financial management in place.

People falsely believed that Yar´Adua was never ready for the job from the start as nobody saw him early enough campaigning for the PDP Presidential ticket. He is wrongly seen as a reluctant PDP Presidential candidate, a man believed not to have the experience, the contact and reach, with poor health to run a successful presidency after Obasanjo. He is being seen as a would-be hostage to the wishes and directions of Obasanjo and his cohorts.

Why did Obasanjo choose Yar´Adua?

Odili was the only PDP presidential candidate that had campaign structure in place and traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria to get his message across long enough before the PDP national convention. But he forgot to put his house in order before investing a lot of time, money and energy into the campaign.

Obasanjo couldn’t defend Odili after the evidences against him. He had no other choice than to give the ticket to a Fulani man because he is afraid of what will happen to him after May, 2007. He doesn’t trust any southerner or northerner except the Yar´Adua family because of the long tie between the two families.

A frustrated Obasanjo was reported by ThisDay Newspapers of December 21, 2006 to have delved into how he had to cut his own loss at the PDP national convention:

“…. you know as well as I do that my candidate for the presidency is Peter (Odili). But when I realised that would be hard I promised him the VP ticket after I had made him to withdraw from a contest he could have won. But you saw the pressure I had to face at the end of which I could not offer Peter what I promised”.

Obasanjo chose Yar´Adua because of the fear that IBB will be contesting under NDP and Atiku will use the PDM of the senior Yar´Adua to his advantage. He was afraid that the Hausa/Fulani people would have united against a southern candidate making PDP to lose the Presidency. The Northerners know how to close ranks when it comes to their “Northern Agenda” irrespective of their disagreements on other issues.

Obasanjo conceded the presidency to the north under duress. They forced him to suddenly remember the proverbial “accord” of 1998, which he had ignored while pursuing his third term agenda.

Obasanjo chose Yar´dua because of their family connection and because he is an upright man not tainted by corruption. Secondly, only a trusted friend like Yar´Adua can defend Obasanjo, if he gets entangled into political problems when he leaves office. No southerner can be able to cover up Obasanjo, if anything goes wrong later. This is the reason he want to hand over power to the Northerner. Obasanjo also want somebody he will be able to influence thereby ruling by proxy after May 27, 2007.

By choosing Yar´Adua, the PDP resurrected the opposition parties that were enjoying their slumbers prior to the PDP national convention of December 16, 2006. With Buhari as the ANPP Presidential candidate, PDP has a lot of work to do. Yar´Adua and Buhari are from the same state.

One of the unplanned outcomes of PDP national convention is that the ANPP have a good chance of wrestling power out from PDP´s control in a free and fair election.

PDP chose an introvert; giving the excuse that he managed the resources of his state well. He is not extravagant having saved N6 billion for his poor state, a feat Governor Odili can’t boast of, if say, he was the governor of Katsina State; a state without any known natural resources.

Yar´Adua is very humble, simple and open. He has done a lot for his state when compared to Rivers State or Abia State, upon the merger income that comes into the state’s coffer from the federal account.

Yar´Adua might not be a weakling as many people tend to believe. Although he is publicity shy but what does he stand for?

He is believed to provide quality leadership and scored a string of achievements, which are widely under-reported.

An epitome of integrity and transparency

His watchwords are honesty and accountability

He is frugal and stingy and might beat Obasanjo on this one.

He successfully got the elites in his home state to accept the fact that his government is for the generality of the masses and not for them, the elites alone, as is the case in most states of the federation.

He might be the best form the pack that can consolidate on the anticorruption war and the multiple economic reforms of the Obasanjo’s administration.

For a governor that is known often to break protocol to mingle with the common folk, Umaru Yar´Adua is sometimes considered as imperious.

Yar´Adua is also a strong personality. Only a man with will power can win election twice in Katsina State, with its characteristic turbulent politics. Yar´Adua was also able to flatten out some of his highly placed political opponents like the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Masari), a former Internal Affairs Minister (Magaji) etc.

During the Second Republic, his father stayed with the ruling and conservative party; the National Political Party (NPN) while he stayed with the PRP. So he can be his own man without Obasanjo controlling him, if, he becomes the president.

Being the son of a former first Republic Minister who played prominent roles in getting so many Northerners into the army and being the blood brother of a former Chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters during Obasanjo first rulership as a military Head of state, the governor has a support base to sustain his rulership, if he makes it to Aso Rock come May 27, 2007.

Yar´Adua is also a political actor. Few years back, he might have started nursing the presidential ambition and he took the following steps without people actually paying attention to them:

So what makes Yar´Adua stand out from the crowd?

He will be the first university graduate to be elected president. If, he wins. Yar´Adua holds both a first and second degree in Chemistry. Apart from Odimegwu Ojukwu, of APGA and Professor Pat Utomi, of Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), no other candidate in the race can boast of Yar’Adua’s credentials. None has superior academic and intellectual credentials and none has publicly enunciated his development agenda in a fundamental manner as Yar´Adua has done.

He raised the financial status of Katsina State, from a debt laden one to one that can sustain at least one year of activities without funding from the Federation Account. He proved this when as one of the states that set up new local government areas, he went ahead to fund their activities without waiting for funding from the Federal Government. It is said that the state has about N6.5 billion in its reserves.

He has also done well in the education sector. Primary school enrolment has jumped from just 460,000 in 1999 to over one million today. A Scholarship Trust Fund, funded by the state and local councils has raised N1.5 billion, which has guaranteed that indigent students get a way of securing their education. The reduction of student population in the primary school from an average of 250 students to 40 pupils per class is another feat.

Daily Sun Newspaper of March 10, 2007 gave an impressive record about this man:

Until he joined the presidential race late last year, not much was heard or known about Umaru Musa Yar´Adua, the incumbent governor of Katsina State, and presidential flag-bearer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But a recent facility tour of the amenities in the state reveals that the former lecturer is indeed a silent achiever. His exploits in the provision of potable water, good health care delivery, education, are eloquent testimonies.

Inspite of the tremendous achievements in the past eight years, an average indigene of the state is of the opinion that what the journalists saw during the February visit was only a tip of the iceberg. The stakeholders believe that a Yar´Adua presidency would transform the nation for the better, given his enviable record in the state.

It is on record that the state was endemic with guinea worm, a water borne disease. In fact, guinea worm eradication was one of the topmost challenges of the politician when he assumed office in 1999. This perhaps was why the state government embarked on the expansion of the coverage area of water supply, as well as the supply of equipment and operational maintenance.

Yar’Adua’s exploits are not limited to the water sector. A peep into the transformation of the health care system is also marvellous.

This is noticeable with good and regular water supply to the public hospitals, electricity back-up, functional medical equipment, adequate and well motivated staff, and the compliance of the people to his newly introduced community participation in the health sector. The repairs of dilapidated structures and construction of new hospitals are also good points of reference.

How the unassuming politician achieved this feat remains a mystery to many, but the Permanent Secretary in the Katsina State Ministry of Health, Dr. Salisu Banye, gave an insight into the achievement. While conducting journalists round the newly acquired facilities in the state hospitals during a visit, Banye said that when Yar´Adua came on board in 1999, his administration selected seven out of the 18 existing ones as pilot hospitals, to ensure a community participation and involvement in the health sector. He added that community leaders were appointed as board of trustees for the hospitals.

Till date, he said that “all the hospitals in Katsina State have been renovated and expanded, medical equipment worth over N450 million have been procured following needs assessment by end users.” He explained further that a total sum of N65 million was given as SEED money for DFR and approval for direct purchase of drugs from manufacturers, to ensure quality and price reduction, noting that drugs are sold at 25 per cent subsidy to patients.

“All our hospitals are provided with a minimum of two standby electric generating sets, two boreholes with improved water supply and reticulation, from water board. We have also taken delivery of brand new ambulances.”

Banye also informed that the state government has increased the staff strength at the hospitals, increased staff salaries, allowances and welfare packages. “This is not all, our staffs now engage in regular training and retraining programmes, this is targeted at ensuring optimal performance, and we are already seeing the results. About 206 Katsina State indigenous medical students are training in various universities across the country, under the sponsorship of the state government.”

In the educational sector, Yar’Adua’s effort at improving the hitherto backwardness of the state academically has paid off. This he achieved by setting up a special intervention fund to build and equip more schools, improve teachers welfare and increase their salaries, the new educational policy also gives a number of incentives that make parents voluntarily release their children for western education.

It was gathered that N500 million was released annually as special intervention to revamp the sector. This is part of Yar’Adua’s initiative to ensure a conducive learning environment, provide teaching materials, and make schools friendlier to the teachers, both at the primary and secondary school levels. The state chairman, Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Shehu Imam sheds more light on this: “In 2004, the governor started by giving us N500 million yearly as special intervention for upgrading the primary schools in the state. I am proud of the teaching materials because it has boosted our morale. “We now provide our children with free teaching materials in order to dissuade them from buying books outside, this has helped us a lot and it also encouraged our children to want to learn.

“The state government in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Education has also embarked on an annual census of schools and the pupils.” Similarly, Imam informed that the state government has upgraded its primary schools as part of efforts to provide a conducive learning environment for the pupils.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Alhaji Danyaya Mashi, while conducting journalists round some of the 25 newly built secondary schools stated that “we took time to ensure they are well equipped with computers and other modern day teaching facilities.”

The works ministry was the last point of call. The Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ahmed Aminu Yar´Adua, eulogised the governor’s preference for quality project without any unnecessary or wasteful spending. He told journalists during the visit to the newly completed Katsina State secretariat, a large expanse of land accommodating all the ministries that facility managers in his ministry would ensure its regular maintenance.

Nigerian Tribune of Feb. 25, 2007 quoted the President thus:

President Obasanjo said, allowing leaders who did not share his vision on the reform agenda, would spell the death knell for the country.

He pointed out that Nigeria crashed from being ranked 48th in the global economy in 1979 when he relinquished power as military Head of State, to an enviable position in 1999 when he returned as a democratically elected president.

Quoting the president “We cannot afford to lose this chance of cumulative growth again. We can’t let Nigeria slide back or it will mean death to the whole country. We are not there yet, but we are moving and we must continue in the right direction.

“It is the responsibility of all Nigerians and all agencies of government to ensure that we have a successful election. On the part of Government, we have left no stone unturned to ensure hitch-free elections”, he stated.

“Seven years ago, nobody knew Nigeria could have the current levels of foreign reserves, nobody knew Nigeria would get debt relief, nobody knew that Nigerians in the Diaspora would return home, with so many repatriating their money back, so indeed there is hope for our future”.

From the above passage, one can deduce why Obasanjo is looking for Mr. Clean.

Yar’Adua’s weaknesses

Being a sucessful governor of a state does not mean that he will be a suceeful president. There is more to being a president than meet the eyes.

No matter the nice qualities of Yar´Adua, one thing is clear and that is; he has very little experience in handling major strategic issues, whether in international relations, the security, geo-political issues like Niger-Delta problems, the federal bureaucracy or even the whole complex issues about running a modern economy. Therefore, the one person who Yar´Adua in power would depend on for guidance is Obasanjo. And from this dependency the President can hope to have the leeway to continue to be relevant and project his influence in governance. Obasanjo will be all pleased to lend a helping hand as well as carrying out his oversight role as the next Chairman, Board of Trustee of PDP. The post is now for ex-presidents with wide range of powers attached to it, courtesy of the amendment of the PDP constitution at their national convention last December.

His health is one issue that he has battled with in the last six years. His health is not “too good”. The governor is battling with a serious kidney ailment, which has often kept him in the hospital and out of public events for long spells, sometimes up to six months on several occasions. He has since 2000, gone abroad for medical attention and to undergo dialysis to support the kidneys perform their natural functions. He is a regular visitor to the German doctors. He just returned from Mainz, Germany where he was treated for the so called “catarrh”, making one to wonder whether as a president, he will have all the time on earth to be checking out always for medical check-ups. His health might be one reason he is not known to travel outside Katsina State.

Nobody knows whether his failing health can withstand the pressures and rigors that the office of the president demands.

Nigeria is such a complex and unique entity that only the strong, healthy and hard-hearted can rule (hard-hearted in the sense that he will be ready to take unpopular decisions to get things going). I hope he knows what he will be facing, if, he wins the election.

Nigerians will not take “had I known” from any body. It is either he is there full time or not there at all. No half measures.

There are reports that Yar´Adua lacks good inter-personal relationship, with no single intimate friend or confidant, just like his late brother, Shehu Yar´Adua. The report went on to say that he lacks courage, focus, initiative, and boldness to appear in the public to handle National and International matters. It all means then that Yar'Adua's personality lacks competence, vibrancy, exposure, experience, charisma and good health to lead Nigeria in 2007. Nigerians hope that he has to surround himself with capable hands, if he wins the 2007 Presidential elections.

My little advice to whoever that will be elected the President of Nigeria is that he should not surround himself with the kind of “locusts” (ministers) Shagari had. We don’t want a president like incompetent Shagari again that will watch his ministers sharing our commonwealth for themselves, only to go upstairs crying and praying God to forgive them. We don’t want another Umaru Dikko; otherwise he will be coming home not in crate this time around but in a casket.

What are Obasanjo’s legacies as his tenure comes slowly to an end.

From 1999, President Obasanjo has made modest progress particularly the way he has raised consciousness about the evils of corruption above all other issues. Nigeria got good global credit rating with consequential good flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

On the failure side, unprecedented availability of funds from export of crude oil and the resultant huge foreign reserves have no meaningful or positive impacts in the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Also the decayed infrastructures and the embarrassing security situation in the country are where Obasanjo has no justification for failing.

Obasanjo excluded the following people from the EFCC list and that is also a mistake:

Attahiru Bafarawa, the presidential candidate of DPP.

Goodluck Jonathan, the vice-presidential candidate of PDP.

Governorship Candidates: Justus Olugbenga Daniel of Ogun State, Olusegun Agugu of Ondo State, Alao Akala of Oyo State and Bukola Saraki of Kwara State respectively was excluded from the list of political aspirants that deemed unfit to run for the forth coming general elections in the country, following their alleged involvement in corrupt practices.

Obasanjo and Nuhu Ribadu are not perfect just like every one of us, they might have been biased in one way or the other, but, we must start from somewhere. Those that are corrupt and are now free because they are friends of Obasanjo don’t have to rejoice for too long because their own time of judgement is coming. All those corrupt Nigerians will one day, just like Peter Tosh said, run to the rocks to hide but the rocks will be melting, they will run to the sea, but, the sea will be boiling; there will be no hiding places for them. They will beg death to take them away, but, death will laugh at them. They will not be able to bribe their ways out.

Let those corrupt people that embezzled our commonwealth e.g. IBB etc look up to history to see what will be their fate. They should not forget what happened to Mobutu of Zaire, Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor and Johnson of Liberia, Idi Amin of Uganda, Pinochet of Chile, Marcos of Philippine, Papa and Baby “Doc” Duvalier of Haiti, Saddam Hussein of Iraq etc.

May God bless and help Nigerians to do the right thing during this election. We all have been complacent for too long. It is time to change our attitudes and use this opportunity to lift Nigeria out of the moribund and mundane conditions it is now in.

My people use to say that “a woman that some of her children died while sleeping, will never allow those still alive to fall asleep”. It is a saying and it is also a parable for the wise.