columnBy Michael John
Ever since President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua died, I have been waiting for the prosecution of his family. It was the height of treason to take the late beloved president to Saudi Arabia for treatment. Saudi Arabia is known for pilgrimages and its holy sites and nothing more. Who ever goes to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment?
In terms of medical advances, the rich and wealthy go to Germany, United States, India (lately) etc. In the pecking order of preferred destinations for medical treatment, Saudi Arabia should rank in the same category as Cameroon and Benin Republic. So they may as well have sent the man to either Cameroun or Benin Republic or Togo or Somalia for treatment. He would have had the same chances as he had in Saudi Arabia - and we would have buried him more happily because of the knowledge that he was with African doctors in his dying days.
Of course you remember when the soccer legend, Kanu Nwankwo, had a weak aorta valve, and the club he played for then, Inter Milan FC, thought that was a dead sentence. A search was made for the best and the leading authorities in heart ailments and he was sent to America for it to be corrected. He underwent surgery there and came back feeling strong and healthy. He has been playing football ever since and, who knows, he may continue playing club football till he clocks eighty.
Why did they not send him to Saudi Arabia for treatment? Well if they did, he would "have died when we needed him most." So they killed our president!
So why did they not consider scouting for the best authorities in the president's illnesses and rather opted to send him on "medical pilgrimage?" Perhaps, because some Nigerians share the views of Moslem extremists that America is the great Satan. But that is a banal argument! So let us simply settle for the fact that they were concerned that they may not be able to censor information about the president's health in a country with the freest press in the world. So they decided to go to a country with the least freedom in the press sector. That way Nigerians could be kept in the dark about the condition of their president. It was the unkindest cut of all.
You understand, of course, that if he were taken to the folks who treated Nwankwo, we would have followed the surgery like we would follow the world cup - in real time with commentaries. That is how it was with Nwankwo. The major international media houses and wire services lay siege at the hospital and reported the man's progress minute by minute. And that was only a youngster who specialized in running around a field with a round inflated leather between his legs! Talk less of if the President of Africa's most populous country were to have the knife treatment here! It would have been of more interest than watching the World Cup and we would have been holding solemn assemblies and praying for him. The nation would have followed the action with keen interest and General Yakubu Gowon would have reawakened his Nigeria Prays project.
Since the Nigeria Prays project came and the evil General Sani Abacha died, I have no doubt that another Nigeria Prays project would have saved our president's life. But it was not to be because some family members thought that they had more stakes in our president than us.
Can you imagine that even when they brought him back to the country they still did not allow key national leaders to see the man? They waited for the man to die before they allowed him to be seen. Some one should have insisted on an autopsy because this was a most inappropriate conduct and could be said to be "conduct likely to breach the political peace."
I am so pained because I believe that the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua was the best thing in civilian clothes to happen to our country. And our reaction to his death showed it. When the evil General died, bus drivers in Lagos went wild with celebration and ferried passengers free in joy. Students went on celebration and destroyed all vestiges of the man. There was more jubilation across the country than we would have if we were to win the World Cup in South Africa.
But when President Yar'Adua died, the sense of mourning was palpable in the air. He may have been called "Baba Go-slow" but no one could fault the fact that he was a good man, with a good heart and good intentions. For him to declare his assets publicly was the high point of his impeccable commitment to being an exemplary Nigerian leader. An example his Vice President (now president) followed. But good things do not always last - except the good luck of newly sworn-in President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Well in case you do not know it, "Jonathan" is a Hebrew name which means, "Yahweh (God) has given." So in effect the man's name taken together means "God has given (him) good luck." I see several heads nodding in understanding - I understand! When God gives you good luck, who can stand in your way? Nobody!
But President Goodluck Jonathan's good luck does not always work. In his condolence message to the Yar'Adua family, he said, "Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight." To put it in the most gratuitous of terms, it was one of the most asinine condolences in the history of Nigeria. What jewel? What crown? Which heavens? The heavens were as bright as it had always been in Africa - the volcanic ash has not arrived yet. So how did the heavens mourn? The heavens had no business with this matter, it was Nigerians who mourned and he should have left it that way. And we mourned because the president would not have died if some people knew that there is nothing hidden which shall not be exposed.