Dear Mr. President,
Your Excellency, may the Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, the merciful Lord who granted you the grace to survive your undisclosed ailment in 2017, also heal your son, Mr. Yusuf from the injuries he sustained from a motorbike accident a few days ago. I join other Nigerians to pray for strength for the family and a speedy and full recovery for him. It is my hope that Yusuf will subsequently find it worthy to join the rank of those of us who are relentlessly advocating for a Nigeria that works, rule of law and good governance, so that our public health system, public education, public infrastructure can work to the fullest in our lifetime and serve the common good of all.
You will recall on January 1, 2017, I wrote a similar “Open Letter” to you, where I drew your attention to “the degree of hopelessness” in your “in-the-shock” statement of December 25, 2016, when you received, in the Villa, some senior citizens residing in the Federal Capital Territory, who had come to greet you then. While I fell short of saying the demand of office had taken a toll on your health, as it could be seen from your countenance then, however, I made it very clear “you have been overwhelmed by the enormous burden of leadership and responsibilities,” and “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.”
I thank the gracious Lord, you were able to pull through your sickness. On this note, I like to reiterate the obvious sir, it has become very glaring that you no longer have the sense of urgency, tact, political will and apposite leadership competence to grapple with the full attention and rigor that come with the high demands of the office. I know that your aides and team are trying cover up glaring inefficiencies, but the challenges are not by any means decreasing, while the process of addressing them meaningfully and substantially, have become very difficult. This is not in anyway a disparagement, far from it. Our nation is in a precarious state, it is sitting on a tinderbox and, more than ever before we are in a dire strait under an ominous cloud of social implosion. Nigeria is in critical need of leadership that works- full circle – for 24-7/365 days.
One great legacy your victory on March 28, 2015, has cemented in the annals of our democracy is an encouraging fact that an incumbent can be defeated, regardless of the imperfection of that election. You will readily admit that God has been very kind to you, even in old age, granting you the grace to preside over a nation of his people. Nigeria is a special country, blessed beyond measure, unique to the universe, sadly and badly mismanaged beyond imagination, but certainly not beyond redemption. We need a new leadership perspective, new thinking, and new opportunities, I, therefore, urge you to toe the path of Nelson Mandela and preside over a historic transition for 2019. There is no gainsaying the soul may be willing to do some remarkable things, but obviously sir, the flesh has become very weak. Do not allow Nigeria to sink further. We need a new leader in 2019.
Mr. President, today is not better than yesterday. “The situation in Nigeria is such that in February next year (2018) it will overtake India as having the most people living in extreme poverty in the world, at 82 million,” some global bodies have predicted. Unfortunately, you have failed to defend the downtrodden from the sapping grips of ravenous political elites. It is not enough to tell Nigerians, especially your “supporters” to tarry in long-suffering and sacrifices and remain steadfast when the State House under your watch has become one of the most expensive in the world with a proposed budget of 11.5 billion for 2018. It appears your “known” austere lifestyle has given way to opulence. Yet unemployment rate has risen to 18.8 percent in the third quarter of 2017, with no respite for the fourth quarter because there is no sense of urgency to address it.
There is an urgent need for you to quickly address the inter-agencies rivalry that has dogged your administration and grossly exposed your government as inept and incapable of putting its own house in order and solving problems. Charity they say begins at home. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Security (DSS) are intractably at daggers drawn and the situation is worsening. There is a need to set up an independent investigation comprising of patriotic and decent prosecutors to look into all manner of allegations flying around against agencies and individuals under your watch. This is arguably the only option left to regain the trust of Nigerians in the failing fight against corruption.
It is important we continue to commend and encourage our security agencies fighting very hard to destroy the monster of terrorism and general insecurity in the country. Unfortunately, the foundation to the criticisms they face today was laid by you and your party in opposition- when it was desperately seeking for power. Caution was thrown to the wind. There is a video of you Mr. President in circulation, where you criticised the last administration for seeking a $1 billion loan to fight Boko haram. You described it as too much to fight “a rag-tag” terrorists. It appears everything you once criticised or denied has come back to hunt your government, including the vexed issue of subsidy on fuel price.
Sir, concerning the fight against terrorism, please find time to read and do an independent research. Overcoming terrorism requires more than using weapons. According to a counter-terrorism expert, Benjamin Kuipers: “It’s tempting to think that a war against terrorism can be won by killing all the terrorists. In the real world, this naive plan doesn’t work. A serious attempt to find and kill all the terrorists also sweeps up many ordinary people, and some of them and their relatives become new terrorists, creating more terrorists than were destroyed. The harder the authorities pursue this strategy, the more it looks like genocide, and the more effectively they recruit new terrorists.”
The nationwide reactions to the uninspired bid by your aides to needlessly resell you to Nigerians via a recent documentary – “The Human Side of Buhari,” have shown clearly that your government is certainly not getting many things right. Aside from the fact that the less-than-impressive video flopped in context, content, and timing, it has further opened up your Presidency to unnecessary criticisms. I also think there is an urgent need for you to rein in on your aides to stop comparing you with God in any form. It is a quick path to a fall because no man is God. You need a real Public Relations expert to guide the management of your perception henceforth. The messaging, imagery and villa-relationship must be pro-people and devoid of arrogance and flippancy.
The verdict of a renown Policy Analyst Opeyemi Agbaje, in a recent Business Day publication reflected the dominant thinking in the country: “In short, governance is collapsing or has collapsed in Nigeria under Buhari! It boils down to Buhari’s capacity or lack thereof for governance and his deficiencies-economic, administrative, political and his acute provincialism and sectarian worldview, and his lack of a modern, progressive vision for Nigeria.”
Just as I put it last year, I urge you to deeply reflect on this open letter in good faith and see it as a genuine expression of my concern irrespective of my leaning or 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.
Sir, 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.
Sir, I hope you will be quick to review the latest board appointments, which have attracted wide criticisms. We can’t have the dead competing with what is not enough for the living. I also fear a massive disruption in government’s activities this year because a good number of these appointees would only be resuming to hustle for money to contest the 2019 elections. The appointments came rather too late. Mr. President, I do not know how you will cope with your anti-corruption fight because there will be plenty of scandals in 2018 by desperate politicians (board members). It will be tough.
I leave you with this quote from the real leader of the Talakawas in Nigeria, Alhaji Balarabe Musa: “The way forward is the complete change of the socio-economic system and the leadership produced by it. Believe me, since we have reached the end of the road, there is no need pretending. We have to go to the ultimate, a revolutionary upsurge either in a legal sense or social revolution.”
Happy New Year sir.
May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ariyo-Dare Atoye is a concerned citizen of Nigeria writing a letter to his president. He can be reached by email.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.