Is Yar'adua Fading Out As Ibrahim Babangida Restarts His Presidential Campaigns Last View on Tue 4th December, 2007 Last Modified on Tue 04th December, 2007 9:00:01 am Author: Posted by Admin Sahara Yar'adua Fading Out As Ibrahim Babangida Restarts His Presidential Campaigns Saharareporters, New York Dateline: Abuja, December 3, 2007 A major political shocker may be awaiting Nigerians in the coming year as subterranean plans are in advanced stages to maneuver former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, into office as the nation's president. With Yar'adua's health deteriorating and the presidential electoral tribunal likely to annul his "election," a coalition of political forces spearheaded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo is soon to commence the public selling of Babangida as the next president. Several sources close to Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo told Saharareporters that Babangida's presidency is, in the words of one of them, "all but a done deal. Nigerians are expected to oppose it, but it's going to be a coronation." The move to install Babangida, the sources told us in separate interviews, has been afoot for several months, but is now in the stage of mobilization - meaning that the idea is now being sold to "critical stakeholders within and outside Nigeria," according to one source. Two factors have driven the effort to position Babangida for the presidency. One is the widely held speculation that the presidential election tribunal is likely to rule that the so-called presidential elections of April 21 were too marred by irregularities to stand. Our sources said that Obasanjo and his team have recognized that, even if the federal court of appeal upholds the election, that verdict would be overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court. The second factor is the deteriorating health of Malam Umar Musa Yar'adua, the quiet Chemistry professor who inherited a manipulated election in April. Reliable sources have told Saharareporters that, during his most recent medical check-up in Germany, Malam Yar'adua received a dire prognosis. His German doctors told him that his health was now in an extremely precarious state, and ordered him to avoid undue stress. Part of his doctors' suggestion was that he should drastically reduce his hours of operation and that he ought to consider quitting altogether. On returning from his medical trip, Yar'adua told Obasanjo, the man who arranged his illegitimate ascension to power, that he was resigned to his fate. He also told the former president of his intention not to appeal should the ruling of the electoral tribunal go against his election. Political associates of Yar'adua describe his mood as one of resigned acceptance of the impending, indeed inefact that a combination of factors may be converging to bring an inevitable end to his fabled tenure. Our sources say that Obasanjo was elated when he heard about Yar'adua's decision not to appeal any adverse electoral verdict - and his decision, on health grounds, not to seek to be the ruling party's presidential flag bearer in new presidential polls. According to one source familiar with the inside political calculations, Obasanjo welcomed the opportunity to sneak Babangida into the presidency. "Yar'adua has largely kept the pact he had with Obasanjo," said this source who is now a go-between in the negotiations between Obasanjo and Babangida. "Yar'adua has protected Obasanjo's massive fortune accumulated in office. He has also ignored calls for Obasanjo's prosecution for criminal acts committed in office. However, Obasanjo feels humiliated Obasanjo that Yar'adua not only reversed some of his policies and last-minute deals but also made a fanfare of doing so. Obasanjo is particularly stung by Yar'adua's cancellation of the sale of Nigeria's refineries to a group in which the ex-president has substantial interests. OBJ is also irate that Yar'adua has openly admitted to flaws in the last elections which were designed by Obasanjo and executed by Professor Maurice Iwu." In addition, revealed several of our sources, the former president has been jittery lately. One reason is Yar'adua's reluctance to publicly defend Obasanjo in the face of shrill denunciations of the former president's tenure. Another is that Yar'adua's associates have been quietly revealing to the media details of the former president's corrupt deals, including billions of dollars of unaccounted oil revenues, fuel importation deals, and Obasanjo's large interests in agro as well as telecommunications businesses. "Obasanjo has come to the conclusion that Babangida as president is the ideal person to give him the kind of protection he wants from Yar'adua, but is not getting." Armed with news of Yar'adua's precarious health and the high odds that the presidential election will be invalidated, Obasanjo dispatched his trusted aide, Emmanuel Nnamdi Uba, to meet with Babangida. "Over the last month, Uba has been a regular presence at Babangida's Minna mansion," said our sources. He is acting as Obasanjo's chief point man in negotiations aimed at smoothing Babangida's path to the seat of power. While Babangida sits on assets worth billions of dollars that he accumulated during his years as a military dictator, Obasanjo has, through Mr. Uba, pledged to place billions more at the disposal of General Babangida (ret). Babangida is one of the most hated public figures in Nigerian, but he as well as Obasanjo and others working on his ascendancy are banking on using their war chest to make him unstoppable. "There are only two viable opposition figures who can stand up to Babangida, and they are General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar," said one source familiar with the plan. "But neither man is much of an opposition. Not only does Buhari have no money, he is also effectively partyless." A break-away faction of Buhari's ANPP has been swallowed up by the ruling PDP. "Atiku is a more formidable opponent because, like Obasanjo, he also enriched himself in office and he commands the loyalty of some top politicians. But over the last two or three years, Obasanjo did a good job of whittling down Atiku's business interests and wealth. The former vice president doesn't have the cash to be a match in the coming political clash." Several sources told Saharareporters that Obasanjo and Babangida have wooed many politicians from within Atiku's group with offers of plum contracts or political appointments once Babangida takes over. The Babangida campaign has also began to mobilize international support. Last week, Babangida returned from a trip to Germany where he underwent medical check-up and sold his candidacy to German and European Union officials. Next on the agenda: To assure European, British and American corporations and nations that their business as well as strategic interests in Nigeria would be protected under a Babangida presidency. Two days after he returned from the German trip, Babangida convened a meeting of top Hausa-Fulani politicians. The motive was to sell the idea for his adoption as the consensus northern candidate. Atiku, aware of the agenda of the meeting, refused to attend. In keeping with his pledge of loyalty to Obasanjo, Yar'adua has been cooperating with the plan to position Babangida as his successor. A source told us that Yar'adua's refusal to join the rising chorus of Nigerians who want Maurice Iwu to resign as chairman of the electoral commission is part of an agreement. "Once Babangida is adopted as the PDP's candidate, the party needs Iwu to run the elections and announce Babangida as the winner. Obasanjo has told his inner circle that he has absolute trust that Iwu would execute the game plan. Obasanjo doesn't want to risk having a more independent-minded umpire calling the election." One source said that Obasanjo has a deep psychological motive for backing Babangida. "It's not just that Babangida can and will do a better job than Yar'adua of shielding Obasanjo from legal harassment. During Obasanjo's presidency, he and Babangida had their fights. But Obasanjo, who has details of IBB's corruption, gave his word to protect the ex-general against prosecution - and he kept his word. He trusts that Babangida will do the same for him. "More importantly, Obasanjo has been rattled by the degree of criticism that has followed him since he left office in May. He calculates that Babangida is the man to match or surpass his record of corruption. That way, Nigerians would be forced to focus on the new bad guy in town. The former president is also betting that, when Babangida unleashes his thieving hordes on the nation, Nigerians would start speaking nostalgically about Obasanjo's eight-year tenure." One source told us that Babangida's "election" will eclipse the record of rigging established by the April 21 polls that produced Yar'adua. Local and foreign monitors had ascertained that Umar Yar'adua came to power through the most crooked of political processes known to electoral politics in the history of Africa. Part of the tragedy is that Yar'adua was never interested in running for the presidency until Obasanjo drafted him into the race - and then used blackmail to force other would-be aspirants in the ruling party to renounce their ambitions and scamper for safety. Yar'adua also has a history of serious health problems ranging from episodes of depression to a debilitating kidney disease that saw him collapse during the presidential campaigns. He was quickly flown out to Germany on a Julius Berger air-ambulance. In a perverse attempt to cover up Yar'adua's health crisis, the PDP leadership used top campaign officials, including Dr. Dora Akunyili, to spread rumors in the press to the effect that Yar'adua had died in Germany. The motive behind this deliberate falsehood sold by the PDP was simply to make Yar'adua's survival look impressive. The trick achieved its aim, as public worries about Yar'adua's health problems disappeared altogether as soon as the candidate returned from his German trip. Yar'adua's hyped "death" provided melodramatic material for former President Obasanjo to showcase the candidate's "vigorous" strength in rallies across Nigeria. Obasanjo would make telephone calls to Yar'adua's hospital bed to ask the now infamous rhetorical question: "Umaru, are you dead?" to which Yar'adua would answer "No, Baba, I am still alive." As soon as Yar'adua arrived Nigeria, he managed to attend a major rally in Akure, Ondo State before going into limbo. It was left to Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu to perfect a rigging plan for the presidential election. The rigging was so audacious that a bewildered member of their PDP caucus revealed to Saharareporters a day before the election that Yar'adua would win by 70%, with Buhari at second and Atiku a distant third. Some skeptical readers did not take Saharareporters seriously when we published the "pre-determined" election results. But many believed when Maurice Iwu announced his cooked results when only twelve out of Nigeria's 36 state electoral commissioners had submitted their manipulated results to the electoral commission headquarters. Obasanjo had set the tone by giving a short but sober national broadcast explaining why the nation must accept the electoral results. Shortly after Obasanjo ended his national broadcast, a boisterous but confused Maurice Iwu walked into a packed press conference accompanied by fierce-looking security agents to announce Yar'adua as the winner of the "Presidential Election" by our predicted margin of 69.9%. Iwu declined to take any questions from local or international journalists at the venue. On May 29, 2007, Yar'adua took the office of oath and acknowledged that his election was marked by irregularities. His answer was to set up an electoral reform commission that many opposition parties and parties dismissed as a ruse. Despite his outward mien of good health, the "new president" runs regular health therapy in Aso Rock. One source revealed that Yar'adua's day starts with regular sessions with a medical team. His public appearances have been rare and sporadic, with ministers and other aides often delegated to represent him at events. After receiving grave prognosis during his last health check-up, Yar'adua has further scaled back his involvement in the day-to-day running of his "administration." His health crisis and almost inevitable cancellation of his election has given Obasanjo the opportunity to once again manipulate the political direction of the country in a negative direction. One concern is whether there is sufficient opposition within the nation to challenge the imposition of Babangida. One prominent opposition figure, a lawyer, was taken aback when Saharareporters apprised him of the plan to install Babangida. "If this is crazy plan is true," he said in fury, "be sure that many Nigerians will fight it with every ounce of blood in our bodies."