Dear President Muhammadu Buhari, Gcfr,
Your absence from duty in the country for over 100 days has thrown the country into serious furore even while there is neither any “constitutional confusion” nor administrative lacuna. The enormity of the work and challenges bedevilling the country has just not afforded us the luxury to have our president away for such a long period of time even so for a president that we so much love and had invested with great hope for a respite to our daunting national challenges which are legion.
We therefore welcome you back with great love and thanks to the Almighty God for answering our prayers as a country to restore you to good Heath so that you can continue with your assignment to make Nigeria a better country.
Dear President, now that we have had the privilege of seeing you and hearing you spoke to us in a national broadcast, a major castle of lies and despair has been dismantled and its habitation laid to shame and eternal reproach. The rats and the cockroaches actually had a field day in your absence. They were so sure they will continue from where you had stopped and hence have started launching their own VERSIONS of the ‘anti-corruption antidotes’.
Your recent national broadcast on resumption of duty was reassuring on the unity, peaceful co-existence, security and your commitment to the economic prosperity of Nigeria. It was compact and loaded but gives the impression that you may not yet be too strong for lengthy speeches hence I will not suffer your Excellency with a lengthy letter here even though many are the issues demanding mention but just a few shall be touched in this letter.
The national question should be addressed holistically in a democratic manner and be laid to rest once and for all, Your Excellency.
God has been super benevolent to Nigeria from the avalanche of opportunities to make correction since we missed the track some fifty years ago. He kept Olusegun Obasanjo through the prison experience in the hand of Sani Abacha for this purpose, but Obasanjo missed it for eight years despite his credentials and capacity. To re-direct Nigeria back to the path of enduring peace, mutual self-respect, love and unity as a prosperous nation has been on the front burner of civil society agitation against the military.
It cannot therefore be said to be a problem unidentified but rather ignored out of protecting the military class arrogance. He handed over Nigeria to a civilian president without correcting the fundamental structural problems created by the intervention of the military in Nigeria politics which could have been the only reason Nigeria needed him from the prison at a time he has lost trend with modern realities.
He lost that opportunity, woefully, to become the father of a modern democratic Nigeria, but God in his infinite mercies having seen the spinelessness of the military-created political elites, have decided to bring you again sixteen years after, even at a time when you have resigned to fate, over your serial electoral defeats in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Mr President, as a man of strong faith in God, I know it will not be too difficult for you to read the handwriting of God’s anger and warning of impending danger over Nigeria if you will fail to do the needful like Gen. Obasanjo because after you sir, Nigeria is going to be left with a generation with distorted sense of history, but above all, Nigerians will remember your generation as the most wasteful of her great unifying opportunities and oil resources.
Today, you stand as the last man and beacon of history with that opportunity to return Nigeria back to the path of peace and prosperity, recognizing that you will not continue to be here forever. Your sickness and miraculous recovery, Your Excellency is a warning and I have no doubt that God has spoken to you through it just like He did to Obasanjo through the prison experience. After all, not one leaf can fall of the tree with God not knowing about it.
The military met Nigeria as a world class Federation in 1966 with only four regions, from the original three, at independence in 1960. The fourth one was created through a democratic instrument of a plebiscite in 1964 and that is the way to go as a federation.
The military was enticed by the prospect of an oil economy leading to the civil war and many other political problems which recommended a balkanization by fiats as a strategy for maintaining peace and through regimental control of the vast country by the military. Whatever has happened during the interregnum is now history as Nigerians have decided to forget and forgave the past under the military but these relics will not allow that and the nation is crying loud for a return from bondage in Babylon back to freedom in a true federation from where the military met us.
Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar’s return of Nigeria to civil rule was largely a ruse, without a return of Nigeria to our pre-military mode and constitution with at least the latest six geopolitical zones as our regions through a plebiscite or referendum.
Mr. President, your speech did admitted that Nigerians rightfully have issues with our structure but you were emphatic in reaffirming rightfully also the commitment of the federal government under your watch to the unity and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation. This letter is just to strengthen that resolve of yours like your predecessors but more importantly to enable you etch your name on the positive history of Nigeria
Therefore my dear president, before you convene the next Council of State meeting from where you will initiate your position officially, having rightly listed the Council of State and the National Assembly as the twin engine for driving a national structural change in a democracy, could your Excellency kindly note the followings as a guide to your steps on this raging national question:
- President Olusegun Obasanjo fought corruption. In fact he established all the anti-corruption agencies as we have them today but the structure of the country does not make them to operate effectively beyond Abuja and hence the wastes and pillage continues. The seat of power is too far away from the actual people and citizens. I’m sure your mileage in the anti-corruption fight in the last two years would also confound you to appreciate how the structural flaw affects every good intention of a democratic leader.
- Between freedom of religion and secularity, indigene-ship, state-ism and our land tenure system; between fiscal federalism, revenue allocation and derivation formulae, no matter how hard we have tried, our military unitary system has not resolved the nagging questions of fairness and equity in a heterogeneous nation as ours.
- That equality is not the same thing as equity and uniformity does not mean unity. That Unequal can have a sense of equity while the small and large can cooperate based on their areas of strength with each maintaining its dignity and pride.
- The powers at the centre now, consider it Your Excellency, are too unwieldy and an over burden even to your very good intentions without the same powers that you wielded as a military head of state. Constitutional democracy does not recognize the mightiness of an individual but the aggregation of the rights of every persons and hence thrives on Devolution of powers rather than delegation of authority which was amenable to military command structure.
- Therefore let the council of state advise you after consultation with their constituents whether to go in the way of states or regions as the constituent units so that powers can be devolved appropriately among only two tiers of government and correct this structural heist for life. I prefer regions for the advantage of size, cultural, religious and historical homogeneity with the current states as districts within the region while the councils remain for local administration under the districts with the supremacy of fiscal federalism.
- The real greatness and latent potentials of every part of this great nation will be unlocked when each region relied on their sweat and can take their leaders to account for their wealth and resources which they bake by themselves whether by bearing the burden of the environmental challenges of by burning of their own energies. This was the Nigeria we proudly refer to as the golden era and it is just what most Nigeria yearn to have back today, not a dismembered nation. A dismembered nation can only be the wish of ignorant miscreants.
Finally for now Your Excellency as I will like to make this letter to you a very brief one, some of your ministers and major appointees are deficits to your administration. Abuja the federal capital territory has been sleeping with the herds taking over The Eagle square. Our Educational sector is in total disarray. Sir, have you not heard ASUU your ally in the bullying of President Jonathan and the PDP are now on indefinite strike? Rasaq Oloyede has just said 100/400 is a pass mark in UTME or JAMB for God knows why. Baba, won’t you rather scrap JAMB that has outlived its usefulness and let Oloyede go and rest?
I remain a committed and loyal citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a Buharist.
Afolabi Ige is the Chair at the Concerns for Democracy & Good Governance in Nigeria, Abuja. Whatsapp only: 08063054219.