An Urgent Letter To President Jonathan
Dear President Jonathan,
Those who know how to “blow” to much English will say that “a desperate situation calls for a desperate solution.” I heard the news that you were in Udi to attend a funeral mass in honour of the late mother of Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State. While speaking at the funeral event, you flew off at a tangent and confessed that “something must have gone wrong along the line from 1914 when the Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated till date.” You further explained as follows: “When you look at the 1914 amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, and between the period Nigeria got independence in 1960 and the time I was sworn-in as President, you will agree with me that I am not the problem of Nigeria. I have just stayed two years and the problems have been there before me.”
Dear President, I must salute your sense of history. At the same time, I need to point out to you that as I read about your submission at Udi town, I was so much awestruck by your confession that you could have knocked me down with a feather! All along, we had always known that something is terribly wrong with Nigeria; that Nigeria is like an ocean-going, titanic vessel that has run out of steam and combustion and, thus, stranded mid-stream; a mere artificial creation existing only in the imagination of those who partake in bleeding it dry – and this pack includes, Sir, all of you who crave for perpetual asylum at Aso Rock, Abuja as well as in all the Government Houses at the various state capitals in the country. Yes, you needed not to belabour us with a grave-side chronicle of our illegitimate past, for to do so would only amount to teaching one’s grandmother how to suck eggs.
More importantly, Mr. President, most Nigerians had always believed that you are not the problem. If anything, you were supposed to be the solution; at least, that was what you made us to believe when you courted our votes and electoral mandate. Remember that your familiar sing-song, “A breath of fresh air!” You knew quite well, at that time, that Nigeria’s problems existed right from the days of “John the Baptist.” Yet, you came up and promised us “fresh air.” And by that, we understood it to mean a promise of change, of transformation and a radical departure from our ugly heritage. Dear President, as I listen to you now, the tone of your utterances readily reminds me of the story of my kinsman, Mazi Ogbundife, who once visited a local palm wine joint. After he had saturated his bowels with a generous dose of the white liquor, he staggered his way home. On getting to his house and sighting his wife, he forgot her name and called her “John Bull.”
In your funeral oration, you submitted that “I have just stayed two years and the problems have been there before me.” Sir, must you “occupy” Aso Rock until the grass grows under your feet before something remedial happens. Could it be that this is your own subtle way of saying that you would need an eight-year tenure before you can begin to scratch the surface of the country’s problems. Dear President, to concede to you that you are not the problem is, indeed, to become unduly charitable to you. The sad truth is this: by the logic of your governance style, you have burdened us with more problems than we could ever have fathomed. I will respectfully paint a few scenarios for you.
While you were campaigning for electoral votes, you declared to us that your administration will maintain zero-tolerance for corruption. But as it stands today, official corruption (under your very tenure) has not only grown worse, but has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Just take a second glimpse at your own copies of the various probe reports piled up over the period and then tell me what you see. Under your very nose, political office holders- and top civil servants alike – run amok in a looting spree, almost like death-prone cultists whose chances of survival crucially depend on how much they are able to steal.
Today, there is practically no sector of the economy, no agency or institution of government, and no public service official presiding over public funds that you will probe and not be confronted with a cankerworm of horrifying corruption. The situation has become so messy that public officials – elected or appointed – are no longer contented with just stealing from the public purse. Now, they take the cash as well as carry the purse! In the face of such unbridled criminality in government, what has been your clear response, Mr. President? Playing the ostrich! Your Justice Minister, recently, has come out to say that you would require more “forensic evidence.” Haba Presidoo!!! You and I know quite well that one does not require a Chinese torch-light to see that what is perching on his scrotum is an injurious tse-tse fly.
You equally talked merrily during your campaigns about your readiness to tackle oppressive poverty in the land and to feed us with the “sacramental” dividends of democracy. We had always radiated optimism that you will grant us respite from our travails as a people and transform our lives positively. But ever since you got to that “Rock” and they gave you that big book and you swore, “so help me God,” all we have been getting are a cocktail of ceaseless increments – fuel, electricity, tuition, etc. As if that is not enough, you have developed passion for incurring loans with such promiscuous voracity and, in the process, piling up huge debts that sooner or later will become a millstone round our neck; one that would, assuredly, force us into bondage and expose us to another round of harassment and exploitation by your predatory foreign lenders. Still, with all the borrowings being incurred on our behalf, we can hardly pinpoint any significant improvement in our living conditions: the road networks still defy navigability, public health-care is largely ineffectual, the educational system is cadaverous, and power supply is chronically convulsive. In certain cases, the delivery of these “public goods” has not only stagnated, but has become even worse than you met them.
At the moment, most Nigerians are still trapped in the poverty cobweb that they now can hardly muster any hope of possible redemption. When you set out to mobilize these indigent compatriots to come and grace your rallies in those gigantic stadia during your campaigns, we felt you already knew that their plight was so wretched that they neither have a pot to piss in nor two pennies to rub together. How do you think they will feel, Mr. President, when they now see you point a defeatist finger in the direction of godforsaken Lord Lugard as the source of their problems?
In the area of addressing the country’s security challenges, you – Mr. President – have also been as disappointing as wet gunpowder. You were the one who openly confessed that Boko Haram had infiltrated your government. You hinted that some of your lieutenants and public officials were covertly sympathetic to Boko Haram. A few of them have equally been fingered for their culpability in the fuel subsidy scam. Ironically, when Nigerians guessed that you were going to sieve the wheat from the chaff, you beat a hasty retreat and announced that you had no plans to reshuffle your cabinet. Having appropriated, unprecedentedly, a staggering amount of almost N1 trillion for security in the 2012 budget, Nigerians as yet do not know who they are fighting against. When your National Security Adviser, NSA, volunteered to offer some clue, you hurriedly interjected by claiming that “he has been misquoted; impliedly, that Nigerians were too amateurish and unenlightened to correctly decode the deep parable of an orally-diabetic General!
Your pledge, dear Jonathan, to always conform to the dictates of the rule of law has become highly suspect. When the National Judicial Commission, NJC, recommended the removal of Justice Ayo Salami of the Federal Court of Appeal, you not only removed him but did so with the speed of a ram and the blindness of a millipede. Few months afterwards, the same NJC, after realizing – like the proverbial prodigal son – that it had erred, had reversed itself and recommended the reinstatement of Justice Salami. Ever since, you – Mr. President – have feigned indifference and have had to carry on as if you are awaiting the delayed arrival of a “Prophet of the Most High” to come and interpret the second recommendation to you.
In conclusion, Mr. President, we will pretend to believe that you were misquoted at Udi just like the way you claimed Azazi had been misquoted. Nevertheless, it bears repeating – even if for the umpteenth time – that no administration or political regime ever succeeds on the pretext that it can make an omelette without breaking eggs. We cannot successfully transform as a nation when you appear to be seized by a desire not to offend those army of looters milling around in government circles. Neither can your lamentations about our amalgamation hold any water as long as you equally continue to ignore – and to frustrate – the legitimate agitation by Nigerians for a restructuring of the country along the lines of a truly federalist state.
Finally, if you must stand the chance of making any meaningful headway in the arduous task of pulling our chestnut out of the fire, you must resolve to assume – and to be seen to have assumed – the driver’s seat in piloting the country’s ship of statecraft, and to also realize that as the president, the buck stops at your table. In the end, Nigerians will not remember you as the President who reminded them of their ugly past and the source of their problem, but as one who took bold and courageous steps to secure their liberation.