An Open Letter to our Seven Presidential Candidates

January 2010

Dear Sirs,

I will like to congratulate all of you contesting as presidential candidates on various party platforms: President Goodluck Jonathan, General Mohammed Buhari, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, Chief Dele Momodu, Dr. Pat Utomi and Mr. John Dara. Well done so far and I wish you all good luck in the upcoming elections.

I will not go into analysing your chances at the polls. Some of you are well known more than others. Some of you are in parties that have the resources to prosecute elections in a country like Nigeria. All of you claim to have Nigeria’s interests at heart. We do not sincerely know the reasons why you are all contesting despite whatever you might tell us. Some people have suggested that some of you may be better off in the Senate. You all have your supporters and detractors. All said and done, I hope the best man for the job wins.

We are however interested in what plans you have for solving specific intractable problems in our great country Nigeria. We do not want you to tell us that power supply will be available within 12 months. How will you go about it? Be specific. You are all so busy right now planning for your campaigns and the elections that you barely have time for other things. Have you put together some sort of economic and strategy team? By now I will expect you to have done so. Is it after you win the elections that you will start thinking of your cabinet members? A word of advice sirs, while for the sake of political expediency, you will be expected to give out some slots to your party, contributors and different constituencies here and there; it will be advisable to let everyone know some ministries are non-negotiable namely Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Power, Education, Petroleum Resources and Health. A tall order? I know. Getting the right people into these ministries can however make a lot of difference. And yes, Works, so that all those roads can be repaired quickly.

Now to the brass tacks. How do you intend to tackle some of the following issues? We do not want complex, high fallutin reports. In simple lay man’s terms, kindly explain to us what you will do. These things as they say are not rocket science. It will be nice if your government is not business as usual. We are not asking for miracles (maybe we are!); we just want to see that basic things get done. That brings me to another advice for your Excellencies in waiting. Please on no condition, under no circumstances must you go and commission a borehole, a school building or even a road. It is an insult to our collective intelligence. These are things that any country more so, one like Nigeria should have in abundance. I can however forgive you when you commission a brand new power station with a capacity for 3000 – 5000 Megawatts. That will be the day!

Now please kindly keep the following in mind:

Fuel Subsidy/Petroleum Refining – How do you intend to continue to subsidise fuel while simultaneously encouraging private sector participation in the downstream sector? What plans do you have for revamping of our refineries? Removing subsidy is definitely politically incorrect and morally odious.

Power Supply – Powerful unions and interest groups are making privitisation and commercialisation of PHCN difficult. If PHCN works, several companies involved in generators and diesel supply will go out of business. People are ready to pay for power supply if it is available. Power plants however don’t come up overnight. It takes four to five years. How do you intend to address these issues?

Transport, Road Construction and Maintenance – Gone are the days when our rail system was very efficient and used for moving goods and services from one place to another. Now, we all depend on moving from one place to another by vehicular transport, which due to the bad state of our roads has become very risky business. How sirs, do you intend to tackle this issue?

Education – Can tertiary education continue to be free? If yes, how does your government intend to fund it? Should the government continue to be involved in the running of secondary schools (the Unity Schools) without compromising standards and quality? How do you plan to motivate teachers, attract funding for more schools, libraries and teaching training?

Cost of Governance/The Civil Service – In view of the stance taken by the Presidential Advisory Council that the present government is too large and in view of the CBN’s governor statement that 25% of our budget is used to service the government machinery, how do you intend to keep the costs of running your government low? Is your government going to have 42 ministers just for the sake of federal character? We honestly do not need 42 ministers and you all know it but how are you going to handle all the godfathers, hangers on, political associates, party members, governors and other acolytes? What about the fact that our civil service is too large and bureaucratic. The NLC will not allow you to sack people. How will you convince them that government does not necessarily have to be the largest employer of labour?

These are just a few items that I think myself and other Nigerians may be interested in. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read this and I look forward to your prompt response. God bless you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Yours faithfully,

Ayodeji Jeremiah
Your faithful and loyal Citizen

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