POLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri
My dear President Buhari,
Let me start by welcoming you back from the United Kingdom. I am happy that contrary to the wish and postulation of some persons, you really returned. But more importantly, you are not only back and better, you are now in a perfect state to hear all the grumblings and groaning of Nigerians, some of which I shall relate to you shortly.
Mr President, some of us who have always believed in your person and supported your election are constantly in a battle with a motley crowd of opposition, many of whom never believed in you. The ever-raging battle is in defending your actions and inactions in the best way possible.
But sir, I must confess that it’s been such a Herculean task in recent times.
Sir, your critics have been laughing at us, calling us unprintable names for still believing in you, when according to them, you have lost control of the economy. The point to the ever-contracting economy. They point to the growing army of unemployed persons. They point to the incredible inflation margin that has befallen Nigerians. They point to how more and more parents are having huge difficulty feeding their children. They point to the desolate state of even those who work, especially in state government establishments, many of who have been owed for upward of six or more months. They even whispered that your ministers are also “shuffering and shmiling” because every artery of usual comfort is blocked.
Mr. President, I tried to caution them and to explain that some of these problems, true as they may be, were overflow of the reckless past. But they almost mobbed me. One very noisy antagonist asked me pointedly: “Is it not because of the so-called reckless past that we voted for change?”, adding very sarcastically, “so are we experiencing change now or chain?”
No amount of argument will persuade or convince many of these pessimists that you are indeed doing your best to reposition and recast the economy.
I must further confess that the temptation to agree with them is very strong, but for the implicit confidence we have that you really mean well for this country. I pointed out that, for once, we have an ascetic and hedonistic president, one who is so austere and frugal. But they countered that they would rather have an epicurean president who will allow the good things of life to flow among the people. They claim that your ascetic disposition seems to be poised in democratising poverty in the land. They say things are so hard that not only are the rich also crying, the poor are indeed groaning and gasping.
I can confirm sir that I can relate with many of the things the critics are saying. It’s just that they say it with so much mischief and bitterness; after all, we all go to the same market, buy the same fuel, suffer the same collapsed electricity supply, witness the companies sacking their workers or even shutting down operation altogether. Mr President, if the truth be told, there is drought in the land. Economists call it recession. And we are all feeling the steely clamp.
I have been making a good projection of your epic fight against corruption, which, I insist, is bound to relaunch Nigeria as a land of plenty and bliss. But again, they say the monies and assets so far recovered are likely to be re-looted as it was in the past. But I swore to them, that such a mega crime can never happen under your watch. Having defeated them on that, they opened another disenchanting chapter on the war against corruption: why are all the people being haunted and clamped into detention for corruption are persons associated with the opposition party or people who had supported the previous government.
I told them it is not true, citing the case of Jafaru Isa, a former Kaduna military governor, a prominent APC chieftain and ally of President Buhari, who was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for partaking in the Dasukigate mess. And that the EFCC so squeezed the man and he refunded N100 million out of the N170million he was said to have collected from Dasuki. In their usual mischief, they dismissed it as an exception, asking if the remaining N70million has been refunded by Isa.
Even when I added that the trial of the number three citizen, Senate President Bukola Saraki , an APC chieftain, for wrongful asset declaration, as an example of how non-selective the fight against corruption is, they merely pouted their lips. One other short one among them threw in a snide remark, ”…as if we don’t know why he is being prosecuted”. They challenged you to clamp some persons they named, which I can’t repeat here, (unless you grant me audience) who smell of corruption all over, but are the grand monsieurs of the APC. When I challenged them to provide evidence of their suspicion and accusation, they merely rabbled round like drunken urchins.
My dear President, I am taking advantage of the fact that you are just back and that your ears are smarting from the great expert treatment they got, to gallon you full with the narratives on the streets of Nigeria. You are on the other side, while we are on this other side. This letter is thus to acquaint you with the goings-on sir.
Mr. President, whether you were a soldier or not, you are now a politician. You should be able to build a balance between your personal value system and the national/political demands of governance.
In case you don’t quite understand me, let me put it this way: If you have your eye on 2019, as I suspect, you must begin to relax your peremptory hold on issues and give room for some political consideration. I have heard even some of your avowed supporters and funders grumble that they have been left in the lurch whilst you trans-loaded hitherto unknown persons to prized offices and positions. I say these so that the acts ( I actually mean hardship) of today will not stand against you at the 2019 polls.
One year after assuming office, Nigerians expect a significant change in their social narratives. They voted for change. Let them begin to experience positive change.
Yes, the past has been odious and disenabling, but we cannot continue to dwell on that point. We must be able to move on and change the rhythm of the people’s lives.
The sound bites from your Goebbel, sorry Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, are no longer as inspiring. Give him cause to flaunt his skills.
I am not an economist sir, but I think, there is too much trial and error among the economic managers. It is unfortunate that you came into office when the price of crude fell from an average of $100 per barrel to $30 or so today. The fate that has befallen our Naira especially against other stronger currencies is befuddling. In this same country, a dollar was equal to 86k… that was in 1981, while a British pound exchanged for N1.
Many Nigerian are withdrawing their children from universities abroad now because of scarcity of Forex. Not even the floating of the Naira seems redeeming enough. It has even stifled international business. Sir, we cannot apply a medicine that will kill both the disease and the patient.
Yes, you inherited a decrepit economy, but that was why almost 16 million (15,424,921) Nigerians voted for you against the nearly 13 million (12,853,162) who voted for your closest rival. They believed in you. They shunned all the terrible things said about you during the elections and hung their fate on you. Sir, you cannot afford to fail. If nothing else, so we will not lose face in the society. Many are waiting to have a good laugh at us. May you not let them have any such occasion sir.
Certainly, there are many saboteurs who are plotting and planting several studs on the way so you can stumble… but our God and heroes past will not allow them.
Sir, you must wake up and kit up. The next one year will be very telling for your government. Let it be that very soon, Nigerians will begin to heave a sigh of relief, and tell the nay Sayers that their (your supporters’) trust, vote and confidence in you is not in vain. Reinforce their belief in you capacity to take Nigeria out of the woods.
This is why I talked about employing wisdom enough to achieve a balance between your legendary disciplinary streak and political expediency.
You see those boys called Niger Delta Avengers, they are ossified rascals. They don’t care about anything. Not even their lives. They are almost like those Boko Haram terrorists. Sir, you need all the wisdom and tact to rein them in. To insist on military solution will take us nowhere. That strategy will only enable you cut your nose to spite your face. Those boys are like the tsetse fly perching on a man’s scrotum. An attempt to smash it against the scrotum could make you spend many unconscious days in the hospital.
Unless you deal with them with tact, they have the capacity to behave like lepers: spill the milk they could not gather.
Sir, don’t forget to deal dispassionately and decisively with the menace of the Fulani herdsmen. They have been killing innocent people anyhow. Please ensure innocent blood are not spilled unduly anywhere in the country.
Before I round off this letter sir, remember that Nigeria is such a big country. Everybody is watching you anya-anya. They want to see the spread of your appointees. They want to interpret how nationalistic you are on such matters.
Mr. President, all that you promised during the elections: creation of three million jobs per year, feeding of school children, paying stipends to unemployed persons, making agriculture the mainstay of the economy, harnessing the solid mineral potential of the country, Killing corruption before it kills us, etc etc. have become the many areas in which you will be assessed and judged. You cannot but be conscious of the expectations of the people in these areas.
This letter has become lengthier than I planned sir. Sir, if you are tired of reading, please hand it over to your Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, to summarise it all and reduce it to actionable bullet points, and possibly hang it on one corner of your workstation.
Finally sir, let me chip in that the disquiet in the National Assembly over the proposed arraignment of the Senate president and his deputy over alleged forgery of senate rules, over a year ago, is another tsetse fly in the scrotum. Sir, discretion is a better part of valour. I am sure you know what I mean.
The president cannot be seen to be struggling and wrestling with a legislature that is controlled by his political party. The temptation to act with the mindset of a deja vous conquistador must be shelved. The president should maximally reap from APC’s control of the legislature. This can be only if the president synchronises the political benefits of controlling the two chambers of the legislature. A good politician, like a sportsman, must operate with the disposition to win some and lose some.
I must thank you sir for reading through my letter believing that you will not dismiss it as the puerile rantings of a bloody civilian.
Once again, welcome back sir.