You have been busy lately – in Cotonou, in Yaounde, and in Washington DC. You must be tired. Welcome back, especially from God’s own country. I like it when you travel because it looks like you only like to speak to us from foreign lands.
You prefer to reveal your plans to people whom Boko Haram will never bomb instead of the Nigerians who die at their hands daily. When you went to Germany, you planned to change Chancellor Angela Merkel to a President of Western Germany. You went to South Africa to reveal the obvious about your waning energy levels, you should have told us that during the campaign season. In America you told Senior Prefect, Obama (SPO), – not us – when you will form a cabinet and how you will fight Boko Haram. In Benin, you told Nigerians living outside to stay away because it’s bad at home.
Despite this and the considerable weight of your personal advocacy, I understand SPO still refused to sell us arms. Yet he wants to support your fight against terror in Nigeria. How? Please, don’t take this personal. They did it to GEJ and you contributed to this eventuality because of the high human rights violations recorded under your watch as military dictator in 1984-85. You see, what goes around comes around.
But Mr. President, was it your design to deliberately lose the one chance you had to redeem your diplomatic image? Is it true you said gays are alien to our culture and refused to give the SPO the only thing he genuinely asked you for?
Let me remind you, Sir, Gay rights are the in thing among the so-called comity of nations. Perhaps, if you had sold your “birthright” by assuring them that you would work with the National Assembly to repeal the anti-gay law in Nigeria, you would have received a pass mark and SPO would have sold you those Apaches. It’s called diplomacy. I can’t remember who said, “diplomacy is the hypocrisy of democracy,” maybe it’s me, I can’t remember. I philosophize a lot these days. You will need this thing called diplomacy now, more than you did in your first coming. Please start learning it or get a teacher. It’s never too late to learn, even when your memory is not good, as you posited in Washington.
Mr. President, during your inaugural speech, you broke the Internet in Nigeria when you said “I belong to nobody, I belong to everybody.” Despite the fact that few people accused you of intellectual property theft for not acknowledging Eric Burdons, the 1971 song writer of “out of nowhere” whose original words you took without giving credit. Some of us chose to look the other way because we felt the end may justify the means or should I say the intention justifies the theft in this case?
When you made that statement, some of us were happy. We felt our democracy was about to turn civil, following the civility employed by Goodluck Jonathan to throw in the towel for your emergence. We applauded you and sang your praise as a born-again democrat.
Less than two months later, the civility was gone with what looked like “lawful” revenge against your former NSA Sambo Dasuki. The first act of your new Director-General of SSS was to invade and raid Dasuki’s house and place him under house arrest. This was a man who had barely left office less than 36 hours earlier as your NSA. What was it he had that you couldn’t ask him to submit to you as the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, while he was in office? Was it just to prove a point to him that a new C-In-C was in the house because he allegedly led your arrest in 1985? Your new DG-SSS also arrested the Chief Security Officer of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Gordon Obua, for almost two weeks without charge. Mr. President, I hope these, perhaps, are not the kinds of human rights violations that the U.S. told you about.
Mr. President, I don’t know if you saw the helpful Facebook post that your heir apparent and Crown Prince, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, telegraphed to you during the Dasuki house arrest episode. He quoted a letter written about 1,400 years ago by Caliph Ali Ibn Abu Talib to Governor Malik Al-Ashtar. Governor Malik they say, was pious and humble, just like you. Fierce in battle, just like you. But his close friend who wanted him to succeed advised him “do not feel ashamed to forgive and forget. Do not hurry over punishments and do not be pleased and do not be proud of your power to punish. Do not get angry and lose your temper quickly over mistakes and failures of those whom you rule. On the contrary, be patient and sympathetic with them. Anger and desire of vengeance are not going to be of much help to you and your administration.”
Sir, while you were visiting the SPO, you said the constituencies that gave you 97% votes would enjoy 97% development and the ones who gave you 5% votes would enjoy 5% development. I am in the 5%?
In keeping with your 97/5 rule, you decided to sell dollars to those going to Saudi for pilgrimage at N160 to the U.S Dollar while students and businessmen and women who contribute immensely to the economy were buying at N240. You have also appointed your party man and kinsman DG-SSS and your “sister” Hajia Amina Zakari, chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
No one needs to remind you, sir, that you were elected the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, surely for four years and maybe eight, at most. Nigeria belongs to nobody, it belongs to everybody. The lands acquired for the oil that greases our economy belongs to somebody it belongs to everybody. You, Mr. President, may hail from Daura but for the next four years you belong even to those of us in the 5% that’s why I can write you a letter.
On your first coming, in 1984, you were fond of telling us Nigeria was the only country we have. That remains true. Whether or not we voted for you, we want our country to do well. Because we of this, we can’t apply your 97/5% rule. I have been invited to and have made contributions to different projects that would help shape your success, some of which you have seen. I may not have voted for you but I believe in Nigeria and I will continue to do my best for Nigeria. We don’t have to share the same political party to make Nigeria better I don’t need to like you to work with you or give you what is your due as my country’s President.
Elections are over but you are still carrying on as though you are on a campaign train, Mr. President. Your adviser on media has been tweeting meetings of Nigerians and for Nigeria as APC meetings. This has got to stop. To make Nigeria better, you have to belong to everyone and in fact, for the sake of legitimacy, you have to 100% woo the 5%. The last thing you want to contend with is to have the clouds that are gathering in the creeks of Niger Delta to start speaking simultaneously with the scorching sun in North East.
On the fight against corruption, I’m totally with you. I like the courage in your statements but tell the people around you to do more and talk less. You also must not be selective. To be credible, you will have to look closer to those in your own party too. God help you with our judges and lawyers.
Nigeria is ripe for that change you promised. We need it now. Without it, you may not get the chance of eight years and by the end of 4years, you may not be Mai Gaskiya. Need I say, please travel more, we need to hear from you more.
Mbasekei Martin Obono, writes from Abuja.
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