Dear Mr. President,
Your Excellency, with respect and humility, I greet you in the name of Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, the merciful Lord who granted you the opportunity to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the fourth attempt and who has made it possible for us to see a new year – 2017. It is my candid prayer that the plan of God for Nigeria shall be fulfilled. Amen.
I wish to use this open letter to urgently draw your attention to the import of a recent statement you made on the Christmas day when you received, in the Villa, some senior citizens residing in the Federal Capital Territory, who had come to greet you. I also think it is crucial for Nigerians to fully understand the consequences of such comments, so that we could all work collectively to help you.
But let me first congratulate you and your precious wife on the success of your daughter’s wedding to the son of oil magnate and billionaire, Alhaji Ndimi. Obviously, the classical organization of the ceremony, the resources expended in millions of dollars and the array of capitalists and personalities that graced the event in your honour, will remain very dear to your heart.
Mr President, I am compelled to put in clear perspectives, the national burden of your well-publicised statement that you are still in a shock since May 29, 2015, because there was no saving made from oil boom by previous governments for you to use to run your own government. It is the degree of hopelessness in that comment, after 18 months in the saddle as the President, that I intend to interrogate.
I do not intend to argue with you on the state of finance you met, simply because you are the one who defaulted and failed to match words with action after promising to publish the accounts of the federation, during your early meeting with Aso Rock media correspondents last year. Since you never did, it has become increasingly difficult for some of us to buy into your lamentations, not until you are able to present empirical evidences by keeping to your pledge.
Sir, the major implication of your “in-the-shock” statement on the workings and understanding of corporate governance and political leadership is that, up till the time you made that painful remarks, you have spent about 40 per cent of your term of 4 years without having any idea on what to do about governance and how to address the numerous challenges facing our endangered nation.
If after 18 months, you are yet to grapple with the reality of governance and you have no clue on what to do about the worsening economy, it is regrettably risky to continue to entrust the fate of our nation in your hand or to continue to remain patient as you have severally admonished. This is because there is no hope or guarantee that you can ever come out of this shock.
With due respect sir, I concede to you that you have been overwhelmed by the enormous burden of leadership and responsibilities since May 29, 2015 when you took over the reign of leadership, and it will be difficult for you to cope any further, considering the facts that these challenges are not decreasing. This is in addition to the obvious factor of old age and the sophistication of handling democratic governance, which is different from your known military style that is not in tune with current global trends.
Mr. President, you do not have a luxury of time. Therefore, you cannot continue to waste the precious time of Nigerians by regurgitating on the same over-flogged and untenable excuses of being in a shock. It is in the collective interest of our nation and your own dignity that you may consider the following plausible options to save our nation and protect your integrity.
– Option One: Due to the biting economic recession and the sheer hopelessness in the land, I sincerely urge you to consider a mid-term presidential election for new hands to take over. Although there is no direct provision for a mid-term poll in the constitution, yet it is indirectly guaranteed. What is required is for you to prevail on your vice president, so that you jointly resign and handover to the senate president who, will in turn, conduct a fresh presidential election within three months. It is a noble path to personal redemption.
– Option Two: Since option one could be a difficult process to follow, considering the interest of supporters and the pressure from aides, it will be apposite for you to urgently announce your decision to quit in 2019 and quickly ask the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence an early preparation for 2019 – so as to put in place a transition programme that will usher in capable hands.
– Mr. President, you should never fall for the antics of those asking you to seek a second term. The legacy of allowing an open and transparent process for new hands to emerge is fitting enough. However, if you are to consider option two, I will still expect you to re-jig your cabinet, get better hands to manage some strategic sectors and introduce far-reaching policies that can take Nigeria out of the unfortunate and self-inflicting economic recession. This is because things are fast falling apart for the masses and there is chronic hunger in the land. Yet, there are capable Nigerians who can help you out.
I believe that either of the two options, if taken in the first quarter of 2017, will automatically bail you out of this unabated shock that is holding you hostage. This will guarantee you a veritable space to enjoy old age with peace of mind and be self-assured with joy that you have given the nation an opportunity to decide its own future, one more time.
I urge you to deeply reflect on my Open Letter in good faith and see it as a genuine expression of my concern irrespective of my standing as an ordinary Nigerian who daily yearns for a better nation. Governance is at the lowest ebb in my country and we have to adopt the principle of collective sacrifices, no matter the personal cost and pains to individuals in leadership positions.
All I seek is a courageous, God-fearing, competent, knowledgeable and wise leadership who can assemble the best of the North and the best of the South to solve our problems. It does not matter to me if he is a Christian or a Muslim, North or South. A merit based-system that will search out raw hidden talents and bring back our human resources scattered abroad back home, to work together for the development and prosperity of Nigeria. This is all that I seek.
Permit me to raise a few other concerns, Sir. I think you need to address the desperation of “The Buhari Boys” who have made power grabbing a political conquest that must be achieved by all means. You will recall how former President Goodluck Jonathan called to congratulate you and concede defeat without challenging your victory at the tribunal. It was not your making but out of his fear of God and genuine concern for democracy and peace.
There is also a new and recent one. The import of the combined display of sportsmanship by Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and the candidate of the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, as well as that of Alliance for Democracy, Olusola Oke, must not be lost on you. They have congratulated Rotimi Akeredolu of your party, who emerged the winner of the Ondo State governorship poll. In essence, there will be no court cases.
There are lessons for you to learn from all these and everyone is watching to see if you will still allow democratic justice in the political process going forward because our democracy is in coma. The desperation of your party to win everything in the country is sickening. You may need to call “The Buhari Boys” to order.
Also, INEC now appears compromised by your party, while our security agencies are being influenced to do its bidding in every election. Mr. President, following the role some security personnel played in the Rivers State rerun election, there is no longer justification for the sanctioning of some military officers over the 2014 Ekiti State election. For the sake of justice and posterity, you may need to recall them to active service with full benefits.
Your Excellency Sir, Southern Kaduna is the emerging Aleppo of Nigeria. Hundreds of persons have been killed in that zone, under your leadership as the President of this nation. It is quite unfortunate that you have not considered it necessary to urgently intervene and rescue these oppressed people. They are as important as the people of Bauchi State that you found time to address via a recorded message for failing to pay them a visit.
I urge you to remember how you once visited Oyo State in 2001 to speak for some Fulani herdsmen who had clashed with farmers, leading to deaths. You need to speak for all Nigerians and act in a sincere way to protect them as a father and a grandfather. The Governor of Kaduna State has failed the voiceless people of Southern Kaduna. He imposed a curfew which created more loopholes for the enemies to unleash terror on them. Posterity will judge him and all of us. I know that God will come to the rescue of Southern Kaduna people and other oppressed Nigerians very soon, while some of us must continue to stand for them.
I also want you to review your stand on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN – the Shiites) and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). Only justice can heal the wounds that have been inflicted on them and their members by security forces. If you have once shown willingness to dialogue with Boko Haram to free our Chibok Girls and you still have a place in your heart for the herdsmen irrespective of the atrocities some of them are committing, it is equally important that you dialogue with IPOB and the Shiites. “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein. There will be justice for all one day.
Let me quickly mention the issue of corruption. Dear Mr. President, a friend once described the type of corruption going on under your watch as “Garrison Stealing” and this is not far from the truth based on the emerging revelations about some of your kitchen appointees that took you record five months to search. Stealing from Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is a crime against God and humanity and this is going on under your watch with reckless abandon. It is quite unfortunate that you are foot-dragging in addressing this issue. This has lowered your rating, frittered away your humongous goodwill and reduced your anti-corruption fight to a mere persecution of opposition since it is obvious that the process lacks justice.
Your anti-corruption crusade has lost its sincerity of purpose. Going by your much flaunted pre-election anti-corruption credential, nobody thought anyone will last 24 hours as your appointee after the kind of damning revelations against the secretary to the government of the federation. But under your watch, two persons standing corruption trials emerged the candidates of your party for governorship elections. Your supporters on social media have now reduced this argument to “our corruption is at least better than your corruption.” Shameful!
Sir, the only reason your aides are fighting to undo one another is because of corruption. Your house is not in order and the infighting has badly affected the outlook of your government, locally and internationally. There is so much wisdom in what your wife told the whole world not too long ago. Kindly let her be your main adviser and she is in a good stead to help you to unravel the ongoing mess. She loves you and wants you to succeed. Also a major political strategist that could have helped your government, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been displaced by the hawks that now control Aso Rock.
I have so much to write on, but I will leave the rest for another day. Mr. President, there is no reason for you to go on a personal vendetta against anyone. At 74, the Almighty God has been very kind to you, and all you need to do is to ensure social justice for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribes and religions. I do not want you to follow the path of notorious tyrants who have brought shame to humanity. Mahatma Gandhi once said: “There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always.” Mr. President, there is a Mandela to emulate: he refused to pursue vendetta against the Whites despite all the inhuman treatment he was subjected to, and his people. Think about this dear President Muhammadu Buhari and allow God be the judge of all.
Thank you Mr. President. If there is any reason to write to you in private or in a similar fashion in future, I will not hesitate to do so. But lest I forget, I want to plead with you to drop the idea of the 30 billion U.S. dollars loan, which is capable of mortgaging our future. I assure you that we can get out of the current economic mess without such a loan. Yes, it is possible with the right leadership and team: it is a no brainer at all. I also hope you will forward the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Nkanu Onnoghen to the Senate for screening and confirmation. The world is watching.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ariyo-Dare Atoye, member of several civil society groups can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org