Former army General Olusegun Obasanjo, has, since last year, been preparing for the end of his tenure as President of Africa's most populous country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Since the Nigerian Leader's Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, started kicking against his boss' bid for a Third Term Presidency, which he succeeded in doing, he has not known peace. But the worst for him was to come when he decided to contest against the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on another party Action Congress' (AC) ticket.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nigeria's version of Ghana's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) went into action to investigate transactions involving the Vice President and indicted him, which finding has been the grounds for the country's Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude him from presidential candidates eligible for next week's Presidential elections.
An Administrative Panel set up by Obasanjo's Government subsequent to the findings of the EFCC, which was quickly welcomed by the Government, indicted Vice President Atiku.
The Vice President has resorted to the Nigerian law courts, trying to get the decision of INEC to exclude him from the elections reversed. The decision has both been affirmed and rejected by different courts in the country.
The Vice President has still been pursuing the matter and has gone to the apex court of Nigeria's judiciary – the Supreme Court. The court fixed yesterday to hear and decide on Atiku's fate.
Alas! President Obasanjo, through an executive fiat issued on Wednesday, declared yesterday and today public holidays. A statement by the Secretary to the Nigerian Government, Chief Ufot Ekaette, read in part: “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has declared Thursday, 12th and Friday, 13th April, 2007 as work free days to enable people to travel in order to participate in the gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections on Saturday, 14th April, 2007.”
The declaration, according to the Government was to ensure that electorates are not disenfranchised by virtue of where they worked.
What the holiday-declaration has effectively done is to disable the highest adjudicating body of Nigeria and other courts to sit before next Monday, and for that matter, the Atiku appeal before the Supreme Court hangs.
There is a saying that if Nigeria sneezes, the rest of the sub-region catches cold. It is described as a big brother in Africa. It is a country that has been at the forefront in trying to restore peace to troubled spots on the continent, in terms of commitment of both human and logistical support.
The developments in the continent's most populous nation do not speak well of that country's forward march to greater democracy and Obasanjo, who was recently honoured with Ghana's highest award ought to play fairly.
Obasanjo's moves are becoming a threat to sub-regional peace. Where are his Peers to advise him?