Letter to President Mohammadu Buhari

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Saturday POLSCOPE STORY

By Eddy Odivwri; eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com   08053069356

Dear President Buhari,

Knowing that it will be a little easier for the head of the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than me having the one-on-one opportunity of seeing and discussing these issues with you, I have decided to put it in a form of a letter to you. If I was graphically adept enough, I would have represented my entire message in a cartoon, which I hear, is about the only thing you read in a newspaper.

I am however sure that my friends and brothers, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu will draw your attention to it, if indeed you looked only at our cartoon and left the rest content of the paper.

Let me start by congratulating you on the survival of Yusuf, your son, of that head-and-limb injury in a ghastly motor bike accident around Gwarimpa, Abuja on Boxing Day. No doubt, many Nigerians (don’t mind the few who are asking how Yusuf got enough petrol to burn in a pleasure ride when real-time travellers are stranded at filling stations) were so worried about the news of the incident and they heaved a sigh of relief when the presidency declared that he (Yusuf) is stable, even as there are plans to fly him abroad for a more comprehensive treatment. Our God will hasten his recovery.

His Excellency, in other not to make this letter bland and boring I have decided to compartmentalise the various issues I shall be discussing under ‘small-small’ headings.

Sir, irrespective of the many sweet and pleasant things those who are around you and those who often pay you courtesy visit tell you, the truth down on the streets is that Nigerians are angry and groaning.

They are not smiling. There is suffering in the land. As a result, you have lost enormous goodwill among the supporters you had before the 2015 general election, and they are really wondering if you are the messiah or whether they should wait for another, as they suspect that good intentioned as you are, you have been hijacked by the bad goons surrounding you.

The issues I will be discussing include the following:

Economy

Perhaps this is one area your government has held Nigeria and Nigerians in one hard unfriendly grip. Yes, we agree that you inherited a dismal and disabled economy, but  you do not seem to have had enough know-how on how to remedy the bad situation you inherited which, indeed, was the raison d’etre of the mandate Nigerians gave you. It is because that Nigerians knew the previous government was taking Nigeria to the grave, hence they elected you, hoping that you will be able to pull Nigeria back from the grave and make her regain all her lost strength and potential, and then bloom. But sir, although we are no more grave-bound, we are anything but recovered our strength and potential as a people.

Needless to say that if you get the dynamics of the economy right, almost all other things will fall in place; and it is vice versa.

Yes, we are “technically” out of recession, but the spill-over effect is yet pounding Nigerians into depression. Some have resorted to suicide, as life has become nasty, short and brutish.

Sir, contrary to your promise of providing three million jobs every year, (one of the catchy promises that earned you lots of votes), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently declared that 4.6 million Nigerians have lost their jobs since you became President. Sir, this is not funny, especially if you reckon that for every one Nigerian worker, there are, at least six dependants. So you can imagine how many homes and people are in distress. That is why all the talk about GDP growth sounds like gibberish bunkum to the man on the street, who feels the sharp pinch in the shoe.

Sir, matters have not been helped with the recent petrol scarcity. It’s been like an Egyptian torture to Nigerians. With the traditional poor electricity supply, the absence of petrol to even power the noisy generators or travel to the village or wherever for some Yuletide relief, comes down to heavy punishment for many Nigerians and they are groaning. No argument or explanation will suffice. The least Nigerians will expect is to find petrol to buy without any form of stress. You achieved that, two years ago. You cannot be dropping instead of improving on your record. Let the fuel flow. No excuse will assuage anyone.

Speed of Action

His Excellency, watching the recently released documentary on your “Human Side”, somebody said you used to laugh when they describe you as Baba Go-slow in the media. Sir, it is true. Many people believe you are too slow. Your response rate to issues is legendarily slow.

Nigeria is in a mess. Its leader must be one who can think on his feet so as to urgently rescue her from the miasma she is plunged. But you seem to always want to take your time, so leisurely. We remember it took you six months to form your cabinet, the content of which had been long predicted. Since you returned from your medical trip in August this year, you had hinted of cabinet reshuffle. This is more than four months after, nothing has happened.

In all matters particular, your response has been like a crane, seeking to hook an anchor. Nothing swift. No doubt, age slows one down. But Nigeria’s quest for recovery and redemption should be pitched on the fast lane.

Although I hear that you directed your ministers never to delay files beyond two days on their tables, sir, I am sure they are inadvertently slowed down by your haste-free pace.

Herdsmen Crisis

This is one sore area Nigerians feel you have acted with vexatious nonchalance. Many believe that despite the widespread fatal havoc the Fulani herdsmen have unleashed on innocent Nigerians in many parts of the country, they have remained under some inexplicable state(?) cover, as none of them has been arrested, prosecuted and/or jailed for the hundreds of murders and arson they have committed across the land.

Suddenly, we now hear of an organised association called Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, which now operate like some sacred untouchables. And the only reason many have advanced for the levity with which they are handled is that the herdsmen are fellow Fulani like Mr President, as well as many who call the shots today in the Nigerian government system. Were it not so, the widespread danger they have posed to the rest of Nigerians deserves something more drastic and annihilative than Operation Python Dance, with which the IPOB agitation was decisively knocked off. How can a certain people not only openly and illegally bear sophisticated arms unchallenged, but also rape women freely, kill innocent persons, raid and raze down their homes, willfully without let or hindrance? Worse still, they also engage in kidnapping of innocent persons and everybody keeps quiet!

Already, states are devising means and measures to protect themselves. Benue State now has an anti-grazing Bill. Taraba will pass its own in a few months, just as Ekiti State had earlier done so. Except something definite is done to address this herdsmen menace, this will be a veritable source of socio-economic friction in the coming year.

Mr President must show enough concern by evoking the Nigerian law to take its course against any threat to life, property and national cohesion, no matter whose ox is gored.

Anti-Corruption War

The complexity of the anti-corruption war is indicative of the depth of the root of corruption in the Nigerian system.

Except a few who are probably guilty of some corruption acts, this is perhaps one area many Nigerians have sided with you. They have lauded the No-Retreat-No-Surrender stance you have attached to the war. And we are seeing the effects. Of greater concern however is how you must work out an understanding with the judiciary to ensure that they must dispense justice swiftly and dispassionately. That is the only way the big crooks can have their days in prison.

They cannot rob us blind and yet be the same ones intimidating us on the street, using the biceps of our stolen commonwealth.

While many Nigerians believe the war should continue unabated, there are two major concerns: One, the war should not be discriminatory, in such a way that no one is spared the ire of the EFCC claws. It cannot ignore some and go after others. All bad guys must fall at the temple of justice and probity. Two, Nigerians want greater transparency with the recovered loot.

Thus far, no Nigerian knows how much has been recovered from the graft of the past.  They want to know from whom the loot have been recovered. The culture of “name and shame” must return.  The worry with keeping it secret is that it could be re-looted and no one would know, as the case had been in the past.

With the recent needless appointment of “consultants” by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami to sign an MoU on the return of Abacha loot ($321m), with the possible payment of four per cent of the recovered sum to the so-called consultants, Nigeria’s commonwealth is being frittered away by those opportuned to be in privileged office.

Mr President, a lot is going on under your administration without you knowing. Many are taking advantage of your near care-free style of governance. And that is what has strengthened the notorious cabal, ruin-running your government.

Mr President sir, this letter is getting longer than I had purposed. I know you have many pressing duties and cannot spend too long a time reading a reporter’s letter. But sir, trust me, it is one letter that will give you the password to  blissful and more remarkable years of your administration. So read on.

Be a Father Indeed

Those who are overtly critical of your government have been crowing about how “lopsided” you are in your appointments. Even after you released the statistics of your appointments recently, the belief has stuck that you have deliberately favoured a certain section of the country in your appointments. Many of them are quick to cite the constitution of the NNPC Board last October,  where out of fifteen positions, ten were from the North (mostly Hausa/Fulani) – a region without any drop of oil, three from the South-west and two from the South-south, with the South-east having nothing. Some described it as worse than “quit notice” to the Igbo.

Sir, your theory of appointments being in tandem with volume of votes received during the 2015 elections should now be done away with such that you will indeed be seen as father to all, in words and action.

2019 and Emerging Dynamics

As we get into 2018 in 48 hours, I know that the picture of how 2019 will look politically, will be getting larger and brighter before you.

Although you have been reticent and tactful in showing where you are headed, it is clear that your body language as well as the declarations of your loyalists have spoken volumes of what to expect from you. There are certain indications that you will run again in 2019. It is sure your legitimate and constitutional right sir.

It is even more so that your health has experienced a great rebound so much that you could stand for nearly two hours presenting the 2018 fiscal budget. And ever since you recovered, you have literally been bouncing.

But sir, many Nigerians are agitated. They fear that by 2019, you’d be 77 years old. If and when you get re-elected, you will be hitting 81 by the time you’d be stepping down in 2023. That age is far gone into the twilight of a fading epiphany… and an inglorious aping of the Mugabe menace.

Already, some prophecies on the horizon have indicated that your 2019 ambition will tear the APC apart. You will not allow this, I believe.

No doubt, you have a large crowd of supporters, especially in the northern region. But I do not know, as a statesman, if you have ever thought about the Mandela model. Reliable sources have indicated that some past leaders are seeking an alternative route to national redemption. One of them, famous for writing letters, has already written you on the state of the nation.

The letter may be released next month or so, to the public, if you do not respond to the issues in his letter. I just hope you will not treat it like the Ibe Kachikwu letter on the NNPC GM, Mr. Maikanti Baru.

And historically, when he resorts to letter writing, it is better to correctly interpret the handwriting on the wall.

Mr President, I will not take your commitment to this letter for granted. I have said a lot. A lot more can be said. But as an elder, I know you know that a word is more than enough for the wise.

Take this as my New Year gift to you, even though I expect mine in kind or cash. Sir, if you don’t reply me, I won’t bicker. But if you do I will be excited.

Happy New Year sir!