By Frank Opara
His Excellency, President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.),
I learnt you barred a private television station, African Independent Television (A.I.T.) from covering anything that has to do with your life and family. Interesting!
And ever since your verbal ‘decree’ made news, we have been struggling with the semantic distinction of your choice of words in ‘barring’ and ‘banning’. Trust Nigerians, they know how to ‘busy’ themselves with trivialities.
However, in my own ‘little’ understanding of English language, to ‘bar’ is to suspend, but to ‘ban’ is to stop completely and it has to be by law. So there is no question over the gist of your instruction. You simply mean that A.I.T. should not carry out their media duties as long as you and your family are involved.
Your Excellency sir, when I recall Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s music, ‘Beast of No Nation’, this particular lyric flashes in my memory as I’m writing to you;
‘All animal go know say slave trade don pass. Human right na my property’.
And it clearly reminds me of your era as a military ruler. I know you still remember him. Yes; I mean Fela. The one you jailed for alleged currency trafficking. He basically sang this song because of you and your likes around the globe then, who forcibly took away our personal freedom and liberty.
Your infamous Decree 4 sent alarm bells of danger and drove many media houses that were not in your good books to extinction. Whether ‘bar’ or ‘ban’, you simply stopped them from performing their rightful professional duties.
I still remember with distaste, how as a school boy, a soldier who could not express himself in simple English operating under your infamous War Against Indiscipline (W.A.I.) commanded me in his dialect to kneel down under gun-point for not using the pedestrian bridge at the popular CMS bus stop in Lagos.
It was such a traumatizing experience for my age then which I would not want to experience again in my life.
However, permit me to recall the alleged hate campaign against you by A.I.T. They said you were vindictive, wicked, selective, etc. They even mentioned your deceased daughter who was alleged to have died of sickle cell and then your late wife, all to taunt you and win over your supporter.
Yet you maintained an unusual good grace in the face of palpable provocation. Yet you defeated them at the polls amidst all the campaign of calumny. So why lose your cool now?
Why not prove them wrong, Your Excellency? There is nothing as rewarding as pardoning someone who has wronged you, especially when you’re in a position of strength.
The meekness of Jesus as exemplified in the good book readily comes to mind. The lesson here is: “There is power in meekness”. Moreover, Jesus on the cross looked weak, but that was when He unleashed the killer blow on the enemy.
Having witnessed before and after the election, how your teeming supporters have continued to paint you as someone who will come to heal and not to hurt, don’t you consider this your latest action a major mistake?
How are we reassured that states which did not vote for you in the last election will not be witch-hunted by your administration? What about other individuals who made disparaging campaign remarks about you? Will you overlook Mama Peace with all those acidic comments she made about you? Is there an agenda of imminent revenge mission?
Your Excellency sir, if I should suggest, this is the time to welcome both A.I.T and all other perceived enemies without malice. The rightful time to heal and not to hurt is now. This is an opportunity to convince us that you’re now a truly converted democrat.
This election which has crowned you as the President-elect has divided us rather than unite us. No thanks to your political cohorts who went about to beat the drums of war and made campaign statements that were full of fury. You owe us an obligation to unite us once again on behalf of your reckless political associates, Your Excellency.
This will go a long way to erase all the silhouette of your military era that will haunt your incoming administration.
Above all, you do not have to carry-over your press freedom baggage from that era of almost three decades ago to this democratic dispensation. That will be totally unacceptable, Your Excellency.
I wish Your Excellency the very best.
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