Olusegun Adeniyi’s chilling and scary reflections on Yar’ Adua’s government
George Clark, Director of the Office of Publications in the United States’ State Department’s Bureau of International Programms in his preface to “Abraham Lincoln – A legacy of Freedom” notes that bringing leading historians together and asking them to consider Lincoln from different angles” is meant to make the world understand the “sources of the man’s greatness and his place in America’s hearts”. Olusegun Adeniyi in his book “Power, Politics and Death-A front-row account of Nigeria under the late President Yar ‘Adua”published by the Lagos based Kachifo Limited is a well-written, thoroughly researched and detailed account of the presidency of late Umaru Musa Yar Adua, Nigeria’s President who died while in office. Olusegun Adeniyi was his spokeman – the one who knew the inner-workings of the government and perharps, beside the immediate family of the late President and the Aide-de-Camp should naturally know the mood and psychological attributes of his boss. What Adeniyi has done in the book of 294 pages is more than what George Clark expected different Professors to do on Abraham Lincoln. It should be borne in mind from the beginning that Adeniyi – through his positions as a Political Correspondent, either at The Guardian, African Concord and Editor of This Day has a solid first hand information and contact with some of those who ran and run affairs of Nigeria. He had written “The Last 100 Days of Abacha”, Nigeria’s maximum military ruler who died under controversial circumstances while in office in 1998. During the trying years of the June 12 struggle, the incarceration of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, winner of the annuled June 12 elections, Adeniyi went through personal pains to write a book, Travails of Abiola on the trials and tribulations of Abiola. The cover of the book had Abiola alighting from the Black Maria. It’s also on record that before then, Adeniyi had written another book; Fortress on Quick Sand. In the book, he wrote about key political figures in their profile. It’s a very handy book that gives insight into many political bigwigs in the country and what people should know about them. There are the likes of Umaru Shinkafi, Arthur Nzeribe, Shehu Yar Adua, Olu Falae etc. In Power, Politics and Death, Adeniyi has taken journalism and media relations to a higher intellectual and historical dimension. The work by Adeniyi is a penetrating insight by one of the closest aides to the late President. Although the book is from the author’s perspective, it is also a work of investigative journalism at it’s best – far from laundering the image of the late President. Power, Politics and Death falls into the same category with other previous works by Nigerian political players such as; Olusegun Obasanjo’s My Command; Why we Struck, by Adewale Ademoyega, Nzeogwu; Not my will (Olusegun Obasanjo); Why They Struck by Main asara, Just Before Dawn by Kole Omotoso, My life, Obafemi Awolowo; My Odyssey (Nnamdi Azikiwe); The Man Died (Wole Soyinka), Jailed for Life by Kunle Ajibade etc. With a befitting foreword by Dele Oloyede, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, 2005, the book is broken into two parts. The first is; “The Defining Issues” while the second is “Illness and Death.” As Dele Olojede notes, the book “in long stretches reads like a political thriller.” Truly, it’s a book that send shivers down the spine of a reader in a nation enveloped by evil and ruled by some demonic and pseudo – democratic forces. The chapters are; the Rule of Law and that of man. Corruption and the Ibori Saga, The Oily Affairs, the Niger Delta Amnesty Deal, Banking Reform and Allied matters, between Mutallab and Boko Haram, When Counted votes don’t Count, Yar’ Adua and the world and Unfulfilled dreams. Other chapters are; The Early Signals, The Journey to Saudi Arabia; The Power Struggle, Doctrine of Necessity, Like a thief in the Night; Beginning of the End, the Days of the “Cabal”. A very interesting book, Adeniyi has successfully unveiled those pulling the strings of the political leaders and puppets that have found themselves in power. The intriguing story of James Ibori, in the corridor of power is an indictment of a nation without values. Imagine the revelation on the strong linkage between James Ibori who was wanted in U.K over corruption and money laundering cases; Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, former Attorney General and Justice Minister to Yar Adu hobnobbing together and being covered up by someone who should be the role model of justice. Ibori who was sentenced in February by a court in UK confronted Adeniyi saying; “Look, Segun, there is nowhere in the world where you help somebody to power and his reward for you is that you go to jail. It doesn’t happen anywhere, and it won’t begin with me.” You get more of such revelations in the book and arrogance from men of questionable characters whom Nigerians have entrusted their lives.
Frank in the book, Adeniyi admits that the man – Ibori was an albatross to the government’s image. While Ribadu to the best of his ability tried to curb corruption and 419, Ibori reportedly – behind the scene boasted that he would humble Ribadu.
How? This was done in many ways. The former Justice Minister Aondoakaa had written to Yar Adua that he ought to be regulating the activities of EFCC. He justified this with section 43 of the EFCC act 2004. The role of former Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan – asking Adeniyi if he was giving his boss the right advice on the Ibori during the sordid drama.
Against this background, one can also understand the psychological traits and working of the mind of current President Goodluck Jonathan and possibly determine his culpability in some of the actions of his administration since he came to power that he from the onset knows the implication of misrule. The author appears to have kept a diary of events since he became the spokesman of the late president because his accounts are very detailed. The reform in the banking sector is well treated and one now knows those who are behind the reform. One of the most unfortunate stories in the book is on the emergence of Boko Haram as well as the Abdul Mutalab issue. The author reminds those who may be thinking that Boko Haram began during the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan that it began from Olusegun Obasanjo days. The author gives account of the remote and immediate causes of the emergence of the group and enormous vendetta against the people and the Nigerian State. The irony of the Nigerian State; what and who determines national interest can be read on page 113 where the author reveals that the army colonel who arrested the Boko Haram leader – Yusuf was recommended for dismissal. Some people in government thought the colonel committed an offence allowing the photograph of Yusuf to be taken after his capture! According to Adeniyi, a President’s aide saved the neck of the colonel who was doing his job. Though a humble and quiet man who was sick while in office, Yar Adua as the author portrays called the shots when necessary as he highlights how he rebuffs Gaddafi of Libya who thought he was the President/leader of Africa. While Nigerian’s were fighting against the removal of petroleum subsidy by the government, millions of anti-fuel “subsidy” removal did not know that the ingredients to confront the government and even the Labour Unions are contained in the book. Adeniyi in his book recalls the early signals that indicated that the President’s health was failing when in April 2008, the President found it difficult to sign the 2008 Appropriation Bill. Despite his illness, Yar Adua was a man with a large heart, a clean mind who even reached out to members of the opposition party. It’s on record too that he brokered peace with the militants of Niger Delta. The author also recalls the roles of former president Olusegun Obasanjo in the governance of Nigeria. The author does not spare the government he served as well as the role the government played in the closure of Channels TV, why the TV Station carried the story that infuriated government and his own intervention in the evolving political drama.
Adeniyi reveals what he knows about Yar Adua’s journey to Saudi Arabia, and some of the people who went to Saudi Arabia; the power-play at Aso Rock including the names of the actors and the death of Yar’ Adua. On a personal note, he narrates his own role, his reasons for taking or not taking certain actions and offers apology to people who may feel otherwise, especially on why he did not resign when some people thought he ought to have left the government. Let’s face it; who would have left his principal midway when he was unsure of what was unfolding? Adeniyi’s book lends credence to the book; The problem with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe who believes the problem is leadership and corruption in a nation where 60 percent of the funds is filtered away through corruption. Professor Omololu Soyombo, the sociologist at the University of Lagos in her treatise; Leadership and the crisis of Legitimacy in Nigeria, published in Society and Governance: the Quest for Legitimacy in Nigeria highlights the purpose of government which amongst others is for the purpose of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of the people, and that the people subject themselves to the authority of the government acts in line with the trust that is reposed in it in the discharge of its stately duties. Did Yar Adua try to do that until his health began to fail? Did some of his aides do that during the period and thereafter? What Adeniyi has done contains the answers. It has also provided a Yard stick – President Goodluck Jonathan and how to measure his governance and performance.
Adeniyi has done an historical service to the late President and to Nigeria. It would have been a great disservice to himself and the people of Nigeria to keep such a “pregnancy” (book) of intrigues, political machinations aborted or stillborn. Adeniyi would have been unfair to the memory of the late President who despite his good nature was unable to convey his desire to a nation he beloved as he wallowed in the throes of death. But the author has finally to an extent done great honour to the memory of the late President in the book which unveils some of the things he would have possibly wished he broadcast to the nation if his health was not failing.