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Where Is Nigeria's President? - By Todd Moss

Where is Nigeria's President?

President Umaru Yar-Adua was last known to have gone to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. No word as to whether he is living or dead.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - By Todd Moss

Amid all the media frenzy around the Nigerian underwear bomber and how America should have stopped him before he tried to blow up a passenger plane on Christmas Day, a critical piece to the counter-terrorism puzzle seems to have been missed: where in the world is the Nigerian President?

Normally, after such a horrific incident, President Obama would be on the phone with his counterpart, discussing what went wrong and agreeing on ways to work better in the future to prevent such attacks. But this couldn’t happen because Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua left his country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia on November 23rd and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Yes, you read that right: the whereabouts of the leader of Nigeria—America’s most important strategic ally in Africa, the fifth largest source of U.S. oil imports, and home to 150 million people—are unknown. It is also not clear if he is alive or dead.

The situation is so uncertain that Nigeria’s parliament is openly considering sending a delegation to Saudi Arabia to find out the truth. A major opposition party yesterday demanded, quite reasonably, some “proof of life”.

The mystery over Yar’Adua is so bizarre as to be comical—if the consequences weren’t so severe. His absence has exert the country into an immediate constitutional crisis. The President failed to delegate authority to his deputy before travelling, effectively leaving no one in charge. This 43-days-and-counting power vacuum is being swiftly filled by

an insular cabal bent on exploiting the situation for their own gain.

Complicating matters, the vice president—ironically named Goodluck Jonathan—is a Christian and an Ijaw, part of a minority group from the southern Niger Delta region and far from the power centers of the northern Muslim elites who expect one of their own to run the country. There is much speculation that insiders are scheming now of ways to keep Jonathan from ever assuming power. In an ominous sign, a new chief justice was quickly (and possibly illegally) sworn in last week.

These developments all put Nigeria’s future at great risk. A decade of constitutional democracy is threatened by the specter of mass violence and a possible military coup.

The failed terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Northwest Flight 253 highlights that Nigeria’s power void is dangerous for the U.S. as well. The foundation of a counter-terrorism strategy is to build cooperative partnerships with friendly nations. This means sharing information and helping to build security capacity in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

But we cannot have a partnership if there is no one on the other end of the line. Nigeria cannot be a reliable ally if it is consumed by its own corruption and political machinations. In this way, Nigeria is rapidly becoming more like Somalia—a failed state with no real government to cooperate with—than a real partner.

What can the United States do? First, it should insist on an immediate public declaration of President Yar’Adua’s health and fitness to govern. If the President’s staff refuse to oblige, then the U.S. should encourage the national assembly to assert its constitutional responsibilities when it reconvenes on January 12.

Second, if, as seems likely, Yar’Adua is in fact incapacitated, the U.S. must demand that the constitution be followed and power transferred to the vice president. The long-term security of Nigeria depends on entrenching the rule of law and this must supersede any palace intrigue or political bargaining.

Third, it is clear that whatever the outcome over the next few weeks, Nigeria will remain on a knife’s edge until elections in 2011. Any hope for a more stable country hinges on a credible election next year. Yar’Adua came to power in a deeply flawed poll in April 2007 and almost no steps have since been taken to fix the broken system. The U.S. is in a

unique position to push for and help deliver a better election that would strengthen the authority and legitimacy of the next government.

Last, the U.S. can support Nigeria’s vibrant civil society that is clearly fed up and is increasingly demanding change.

The case of the missing Nigerian President is a wake up call to the United States about the vulnerability of many of our global partners. How we respond is not only crucial to the future of an important ally, but a critical test of our strategy for building partnerships in troubled places to combat the global ills of our time.

Todd Moss is vice president and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

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7 answers

and who the hell is todd moss?

another fool with white skin. . so we should listen to him?

i pity africans. . .in dubai u cant criticize the ruler there

in thailand u cant even publish anything that looks like insult to the king else u get yrs in jail

in china u cant print anything anyhow

but in nigeria one misguided oyibo talks everyone starts mis-yarning

have we not been asking the same thing?

is it a question like who discovered river niger,and africans point to mungo park

whearas africans have been living there for ages

this yar adua noise is getting old. . .this is a PDP affair. .

if they bungle it,they will get tossed from power

one thing is clear elections will hold next yr,and yaradua is not going to be contesting

so spear me the propaganda mr todd moss. .

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Yeah. . . Nigeria itself will soon go missing as well!

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badluck from the south is not innocent either. The fool thought he would just get money, be VP and not have to deal with acting as president. WRONG hes a fool also

As we see it goodluck himself doesnt want to be president or is scared to challenge those who are supposedly against him taking over. The fool is also lying about talking to yara- birds of the same feather, both are weak and dumb.

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Fantastic!!!!

Hear!!! Hear!!!

I honestly believe the only way to break this impasse is to exert global pressure on those rogues.

Hopefully the US will heed this call and other nations will follow suit.

Although one cannot expect much from the AU and that band of troubadours masquerading as continental leaders, the leaders of the countries that buy Nigerian oil and where all these so called "leaders" stash their ill gotten loot should put pressure on them to perform or resign !!!

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Oh Fantastic!!!!

If we had just taken care of this problem a while back, we would not have gotten this sort of notice. Soon, it will become daily fixation of the foreign media and then some Nigerians will complain that the media is being unfair to Nigeria as a whole!!! 

We have had over 40 days to deal with this problem in some way but have so far done next to nothing, now it is out there and we are going to hear more of it. ROFLMAO~!

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This is funny.

Even Americans are now looking for Yar Adoofus

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