A vocal lawyer and activist Mr. Stephen Nwankwo Esq. has written an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari addressing issues relating to the economy, social welfare, leadership,security and many others, suggesting a way forward.
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI
I seldom write long essays. It’s simply not my style. Brevity is my preferred style.
But recently, i saw a post by your VP, where he was talking about poetry and wherein he charged Nigerians to be participatory rather than spectatorial in their approach to national issues especially as regards the democratic process. And so i was compelled to write you this rather unavoidably lengthy letter; as a concerned son would write to a father who has almost irredeemably gone astray; in order that posterity may not judge me as having been unforgivably spectatorial.
I personally didn’t vote for you sir, (i was afraid you’d become too nepotistic and fanatical), neither did i vote for Goodluck Jonathan(he had become grossly inept!); I actually cast a protest vote for Chekwas Okorie, knowing fully well that he didn’t stand any chance.
However, it is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. So much was given to you sir, and so you cannot blame Nigerians for expecting much from you in return.
In the last 12 months or thereabouts of Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria had just overtaken South Africa as the No. 1 economy in Africa, and our economy was booming quite alright; pump price was brought down to N87 per liter, dollar exchange rate was below N200; but too many other things were going wrong.
Corruption and impunity were at an all-time high, with some of Jonathan’s Ministers doing whatever they liked with brazen impunity; all of which coalesced to blur whatever economic feats achieved by his administration.
The boko haram menace was also at an all-time high with bombs exploding here and there on a daily basis, even in the heart of Abuja itself, including Police HQ(Loius Edet House), the UN building, Banex Plaza etc…not to mention the bombing of several commercial transport stations/parks. And the worst of it was that Jonathan and those around him, were callously and unfortunately playing politics with the situation; and using it as their ATM machine as OBJ rightly described it. A lot of people have short memories and have forgotten most of these things, but i am not one of such people.
It was this state of affairs that made many people including my humble self, to become totally fed up with the GEJ regime, the booming economy notwithstanding. And that was why you were able to garner a lot of bipartisan goodwill and support in the lead up to and immediately after the election.
Very many people, including the likes of Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, yearned for an end to the mayhem and the sky-high corruption and they openly/publicly voiced their support for you.
Although i did not vote for you as mentioned above, my goodwill, thoughts and prayers were fully with you at the beginning of your tenure.
For instance, i was physically present at the opening ceremony of the 2015 NBA Annual General Conference held at the ICC Abuja.
You were asked whether you would like to deliver your address before or after the address of Dr. Mutunga, the Chief Justice of Kenya and you opted to deliver same after that of the said Chief Justice. His speech took much longer than expected and when you took to the podium after he was done, your first comment was “this has got to be one of the worst injustices I’ve ever done to myself” (paraphrased) and the entire hall erupted in laughter.
I must say that I really admire your sense of humour sir. One time, you were in an end-of-year media chat and you were asked why you hadn’t publicly declared your assets as you had promised before the election, and you told the journalists that you had furnished same to the Code of Conduct Bureau and that anybody who cared, could apply to have copies of it, to which one of the journalists quickly retorted “ah, Mr. President, it’s very likely that the CCB or the courts will say that such a person doesn’t have locus standi”, to which you also quickly retorted “ah! They better go and get locus standi if they don’t have it oo” and both you and the journalists burst into laughter. And of course we all remember the famous “za oza room” comments. These acts reveal that you have an above-average sense of humour and shows that you are quite a likeable fellow. The only problem being that your flaws greatly outweigh your likeability.
Anyway, back to your keynote address, at our 2015 AGC, I was moved to tears when you wondered why corrupt politicians would be looting our treasury blind, while millions of citizens in rural areas don’t even have access to basic things like potable water.
Your speech received a standing ovation from 99% of the people in the ICC main hall. I myself must have certainly clapped and screamed loudest in admiration and appreciation of your piety and humanity.
All that now seems to have transpired in my past life.
In any case, as my dear Governor (Engr. Chief Dave Umahi) aptly said in response to his critics who say that he’s too soft on you, “I do not need to insult the President in order for me to prove that I’m in PDP”. Likewise Mr. President, I do not think I need to insult you for people to know that I and majority of Nigerians are fed up with your ineptitude. I can assure you that even those who claim to be your supporters are really disappointed with you deep down in their hands. And that is why I have chosen to be as temperate and civil as possible in this open letter. And I will urge my fellow Nigerians to quit insulting you, despite the unending wormwood foisted upon them by your maladministration.
Your Minister for Works and Power (I’m still unable to understand why one man is holding 3 large ministries under your administration, while my brother from Ebonyi was given one useless Ministry. No wahala sha. All join!) recently made two clownish and irresponsible statements (assuming they actually emanated from him). One being that he was urging the SW to vote APC, so that the Presidency will return to them in 2023. Nothing could be more silly! And the other being that GEJ conceded defeat because there was a looming economic recession. Prior to these remarks, I was under the impression that your Minister for Information had the monopoly of making cock and bull remarks(you can imagine a Minister charged with the huge responsibility of marketing “Brand-Nigeria” going on CNN to profess that Senegalese jollof rice is more delicious than Nigerian jollof rice. Perhaps he has Senegalese ancestry; who knows).
And so on the economic recession claims attributed to Fashola, my understanding was that Nigeria was among the few countries to have emerged unscathed from the 2008 global economic meltdown, much to the admiration and commendation of global entities such as the World Bank, IMF, etc.. And it was no mean feat to have overtaken South Africa as Africa’s No 1 economy. So one really wonders where Fashola gets these ideas from (again, assuming he actually made them). The bitter truth sir, being that it is your administration that has run the Nigerian economy aground with your incomprehensible and poorly thought-out policies.
There and things i believe you can do sir even at this late hour so that history will not judge you too harshly and so that your name will not live in infamy.
- You have on behalf of INEC, requested for roughly a billion dollars from the NASS for the conduct of next year’s election. This is indeed a mind-blowing figure, especially in the face of unprecedented suffering/hardship in the country. There are sectors that are in dire need of such funding. Take the judiciary for instance, how could it be that in the 21st century, our courts still record proceedings in longhand?? To mention just one of the many problems bedeviling the judiciary.
Our downstream sector is also in a hopeless situation, leading to excruciating suffering on the part of the poor masses who have been buying fuel, kerosene and cooking gas at sky high prices.
Hence drastically lowering these prices will be a welcome first step.
- It robs off very badly/negatively on your administration that you have willfully refused to obey several court orders; sometimes i wonder why committal proceedings have not been commenced against your Attorney-General. Not to mention the illegal invasion of the homes of judicial officers and more recently, the invasion of the NASS by your kinsman, the infamous Mr. Daura (thank God he was immediately sacked by Osinbajo). The human rights violations and the disregard for the rule of law under your administration sir, have been highly embarrassing; and i often wonder why the NBA has not taken a tougher stance on these abuses. It is also a thing of shame that these violations and abuses are taking place under the sickeningly silent gaze of your VP, who happens to be a senior member of the Legal Profession. Note sir that Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen who was unlawfully detained in Turkey, was in July this year, ordered by a Turkish court to be released from detention and placed under house arrest instead. He had been imprisoned on terrorism-related charges in a case that raised serious tensions with Washington. Part of the conditions for his release was that he was made to wear an electronic anklet while under house arrest. I do not know why your administration has not considered/explored this sort of arrangement for the likes of Dasuki, El Zarkzaky and others; instead of brazenly disobeying court orders.
- Water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas, should be procured for law enforcement agents please. I concede that the IPOB boys, the Shiites and others have more often than not, constituted themselves into a serious menace to society, but i believe that deadly force ought only to be used as a last resort and not as a first resort.
Lastly and most importantly sir, I know you have every right to contest next year’s presidential election (even though your certificate scandal, seems to have put a question mark on your eligibility to stand for the election considering Supreme Court authorities on the subject) but i think the most honourable path for you to tow, is to immediately have your name substituted as the APC presidential flag bearer.
It is really out of frustration that i and millions of other Nigerians are planning to vote for Atiku, and not that we are unaware that he’ll be almost as clueless as what we’ve had in the past.
If you really love your party sir; if you really love your country and if you really don’t want the PDP to return to power, then you should immediately hand over the flag to a more cerebral candidate. The likes of Tambuwal or Akeredolu will give your party another landslide victory in next year’s polls and you will be admitted into the one-man club of revered/respected former leaders. Abdul-Salam Abubakar must be feeling very lonely being in the club all by himself. It’s only Yar’adua that would’ve been in the club if he were still alive; OBJ having messed himself up with his 3rd term bid, which ended in disaster thanks to Senate President Ken Nnamani and co.
The simple reason for this request sir, is that you have failed Nigerians woefully! And Nigerians are hellbent on seeing that you don’t stay in office beyond 2019.
Do you know sir, that the hardship and hyperinflation got so bad that even Tinubu as rich as he is, had to voice out at one point that the runaway inflation had to be reined in.
But if you insist on maintaining your current course, and insist that you must contest the election, then i’m really sorry for you and your Party. By the time you people are disgraced out of power next year, you will remember that a certain Steve Sun wrote you an honest open letter which you stubbornly ignored.
I would end this letter sir, by drawing your attention to what a young white lady recently said in the US on being asked “does Trump anger you..?” to which she replied “it has really gotten past the level of anger; he actually motivates me to knock on more doors to see that the Democrats take over Congress and after that, we’ll disgrace him out of office in 2020”.
Mr. President, that young lady’s comments aptly capture the mood of majority of Nigerians towards you sir, if you really want to know the truth.
How i wish you would bow out honourably. As some Nigerians have been comically (though seriously) saying on social media “Buhari has fought corruption; let him go and rest, so that another person can fight poverty”.
See you some other time sir.
Thanks so much for your time and God bless.
S.U. Nwankwo Esq.