In about three weeks, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to pack his bags and depart Aso Rock Villa after eight grueling years, leaving the many problems of Nigeria to continue to torment us. With the very confusing situation hovering over Nigerians, I am persuaded to repost the Open Letter I wrote to then General Muhammadu Buhari a few weeks before the 2015 presidential election that brought him to power as Nigeria’s civilian president. Please read on.
My Dear General,
We have never met sir. I am just an ordinary Nigerian citizen desperate for my country to do well. As I think of the enormous potentials that Nigeria has, I am bemused as to why we own the world record in getting simple things done wrong.
My General, I am a kind of Jonnie Walker. I like to visit other lands and watch other people do their thing. Problem is – wherever I go, after a few days, I am home sick. That is how much Nigeria means to me. I probably cannot live anywhere else.
I have visited places with little rain, no minerals and no oil. When I say no oil, I mean no crude oil, no palm oil, not even groundnut oil! I have seen many places without anything near the human and material resources that Nigeria possesses. I have wondered why it is that whenever people in these places turn on the switch, there is light; whenever they turn on their tap, there is water; when they graduate from school, they have a job; when they are sick, there is some health care system that gives them a fighting chance to live. More than anything else sir, in those places, when they say you are a citizen, you can beat your chest and say, ‘I am a citizen’. Let anyone from anywhere drink ‘kaikai’ and try to mess with you, a citizen, the country will show that person pepper.
Oga General, I have watched you on TV as you have crisscrossed practically all of Nigeria’s states in a race for the coveted prize. Guy, what drug are you on? Where does a 72 years old man get the energy to do that which many cannot do? Forgive me sir but who is your tailor? The guy is crazy. He has shown everybody how to execute the real transformation agenda. Just see how he transformed a Fulani man into an Ijaw man when you arrived Bayelsa; to a Calabar prince when you hit Cross River and a bonafide Nze in Abia state. My Oga, if you win this thing, believe me, your tailor deserves a ministerial position.
I have watched in horror as life has continued in Nigeria as if the nonstop extermination of the lives of our countrymen is just part of a carnival. Apart from token statements from here and there, I see no sign that our nation truly comprehends the magnitude of the evil that has befallen us. Please General, has the life of the Nigerian become so valueless? What really is our citizenship worth?
To be honest with you, I was very disappointed that on learning about the recent tragedy in Borno, neither you nor your opponent showed good example by cancelling this race from state to state at least for one day to show the Nigerian people that our lives matter. At the end of the day sir, of what value is good governance to a dead man?
Last week I wrote a letter like this to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the man whose job you are determined to snatch in the coming election. When that letter was published, many of my friends expressed the fear that I might get a midnight knock on the door from any of the trigger-happy security men who rather than take on Boko Haram use their weapons to threaten innocent citizens.
I am happy to inform you that nobody has harassed me in any way. It makes me wonder whether I would have been so lucky if I wrote such a letter to you in 1984 when you were Head of State. Would I not have been bundled away by your boys and slammed into jail under Decree 4 or any of its brother Decrees?
I read the very charitable statement recently credited to my good friend, Tunde Thompson who during your tenure was thrown into jail under Decree 4 for being a good journalist. I vehemently disagree with Mr. Thompson whom I otherwise respect. His attempt to lay the blame for his ordeal on someone else does not wash with me. General sir, you were Head of State. The buck stopped with you. Could you not have asked your Attorney-General to stop the prosecution of Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor if you understood that injustice was about to be done to these Nigerian citizens?
I am sure you know that there are millions of Nigerians who swear by your name. They believe that you have the magic wand to turn Nigeria around. It does not matter to them whether you show a big certificate or not. Many of these citizens believe that the efforts to brand you a religious fundamentalist is hogwash – an attempt to give a dog a bad name to hang it. But there are those who insist that last time, you used Pastor Tunde Bakare and now you are using Pastor Yemi Osinbajo as your human shield against Christian arrows. They say that it is all smoke and mirrors so that the more we look, the less we see.
Do you really have a magic wand? Does it not bother you that Nigerians have become so desperate that millions of them are ready to throw away a PHD holder in his prime with six years cognate experience as a civilian president and risk this complex nation in the hands of a 72 years old military man?
General, how healthy are you to wrestle with Nigeria’s many wahala? I am certain that you recall what happened not long ago when this nation became like sheep without shepherd due to the ill health of your late Katsina kinsman, President Yar’ Adua.
I have heard you talk about dealing with ‘terrorism’. I have not heard you say how you will take out Boko Haram. I have heard you talk about fighting corruption. There are those who say that you are not serious. They claim that your Jumbo travel across Nigeria is funded by corruption.
General sir, everybody knows that without the efforts and money of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, there would be no APC. The sophisticated campaign machinery that has been deployed at your service is paid for somehow. Forgive this satanic question: If you get into office and find out that the source of the money that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has used to build APC is questionable, will you have the courage to ask your AG to swiftly prosecute him? And how do you deal with the fact that you have profited greatly from the alleged thievery?
Dear sir, very soon someone will tell you that this Tony Okoroji is a political hatchet man hired by the PDP. Please tell the person that he is drunk. Believe me sir, there are many like me who cannot stand the status quo but who look at the alternative with suspicion. That is why I ask many questions. You know as I do that this is ‘last card’. Sir, you have a few weeks to show us that we can trust you with the destiny of our children. We are desperate sir. Convince us my General and on the D day, it won’t just be ‘last card’. When the votes are counted, you can heave a sigh of relief and finally say: ’Jonah, how market? Check up!’