Dokubo-Asari: A letter from a brother trying to be brave – Kenneth Ibegwam


Dear Brother Asari,

The Igbo people say that when a man wakes up, then his own morning has begun.

Dokubo AsariNow that you are awake, good morning. I call you brother because we are human beings with shared humanity as people; also because we are Nigerians. One people regardless of religions, ethnic groups or differences. I told myself I wouldn’t write about the current Nigerian political situation because I don’t like the way things have turned out. Many disappointments; the continual power cuts, the bad roads, the bombings, the political lies and half truths. But then, I’m a human being and can very well change my mind when I want to, which explains this letter.

I have been looking to read a piece by a 90’s person living in the shadow of Nigeria, or being Nigerian. Living to bear the consequences of actions he didn’t put any decision into. Faced with what I consider unintended hardship from a generation before us. As at now, I’m still waiting. I want to believe that I’m not the only person waiting to read something from young people who have lived these unintended consequences.

I was one of those people that thought our past election would usher in change, that we would talk about fresh efforts by the government when not queuing up to buy petrol. Like better health care delivery, the promptness with which fire trucks arrive at fire scenes, I could go on. Which was why I voted, but the present administration hasn’t changed my mind; now I don’t care much for past or present Nigerian presidents. This present administration seems to be doing quite a lot; special assistants and ministers are quick to take on social media to tell us the many things that are working right. When I think all of their tales are true, I remember that we don’t see these changes that they talk about. Whenever there are reported violent attacks (which happen often), I refresh pages of blogs only to read comments from people living around those places, insisting that government agencies have reduced the number of casualties. For what gain?

So I ask that does it matter what region the president is from.  Regardless of character? No, Asari the presidency is not a game of number, the ethnic group with the highest number isn’t assured victory. There will be no need for any form of what is perceived as ethnic reprisal to determine who will rule Nigeria. Do you think that Nigeria needs that kind of situation, where people from different regions see the presidency as an entitlement just because they are from that region? Remember that even in the south there are other ethnic groups that aren’t quite vocal yet. Same as it is in the north; do you think you have “your” people? Look back at the civil war. People will quickly deny their ethnic groups for the mere sake of it.

About people, I think that you Asari are not a politician; you just want better living conditions for our people, right? A kind of blunt refusal to be compromised? Then that accounts for a larger number of people, many who do it with pens, their voices and their crafts. Like Fela Kuti, Chinua Achebe before you and even recently younger people like Sound Sultan; the Nigerian musician who sings about the government’s continual failed-promises. There’s Efe Paul, the spoken word poet, whose voice rises in earnest because of the ills of corruption because he can, because he must speak. These people and many other seemingly invisible people, do so not necessarily with violent utterances. Yes, no one people have a monopoly of violence, but counter attacks do not automatically produce any thing meaningful to the struggle.


This uprising will bring out the beast in us- Fela Kuti.

No one man is greater than a nation, you can’t declare violence insurgence because you can, No! You are the same with everyone else, a citizen with no superior rights, same with other Nigerians. Do not overestimate your relevance brother. Since I choose to believe that your major concern is for the amelioration of our people. I ask; has this government done anything to assuage our collective burdens? (Even though I hear your lot is better now) Do young people have better opportunities to go to school, like you were in the creeks are there still some of our brothers and sisters lurking in creeks,  who would have done better in universities or even the army? Has our brother bettered their lives? Remember that a time will come when amnesty that is currently being enjoyed will end.

I know Goodluck Jonathan didn’t create these recurring problems, but I know he has normalized it. Yet he can choose to end it. You and I have seen where this will lead, where it has led. Remember Biafra, the number of deaths? Even though some of us remember certain aspects of this war differently, while others take on a kind of muted quality.  But this intended uprising will bring out the beast in us, because there are other ethnic groups in Nigeria, because they too have voices and they will soon start to speak. They too will come up and make declarations about how it is the right of the people from their own ethnic group. Let me explain it this way, Nigeria is not only for the Yorubas, Igbos or Hausas. There are the Igala, Ebira, Tiv, Ibibio, Egun people (and a lot more) and they too deserve the right to insist that Nigeria’s governance is their entitlement.

My aspiration is for Nigerians to decide who they want. Well, if it happens to be brother Goodluck or mine (who isn’t even a politician yet) then let it be in their best interests. If Goodluck wants to be voted back in, he should work towards it. Let me almost tell you that like you, I’m also tired of recycled leaders, Nigeria and Nigerians deserve better.

Success and good welfare of a country’s citizenry is an inside job, regardless of ethnicity. Sometimes, what the GDP and its slow percentage growth says, the number of supposed refurbished roads splashed in newspapers even the continual promise of better power supply is never enough for the people to trust a government. An inside job of better living conditions that is evident in its people, I think is better than whatever trust the government hopes to get from its people with the promises of a better economy. With the unrelenting spirits of Nigerians who despite all the uncertainties posed by the government choose to forge ahead, this trust shouldn’t be hard to build, in our Nigeria of dogged spirits in human forms who start businesses and even though they sometimes fail, dust themselves up and start again. Remember Asari that your threat of surplus violence is in turn disarming. That our history with all it imperfections is yet our best teacher.

The Igbo people say that, Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” Let it be known that I have taken a side, but I hope that my stance is yet unknown to even you brother.

In struggle and peace,

Kenneth Ibegwam.



Kenneth Ibegwam keenly observes the complexities of this world and rants about it on his twitter handle, just because he can. And he likes to read good fiction too.

Follow @ken_ibegwam on twitter


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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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