“No one knows how tough this job is until after he has been in it a few months’ – President John Kennedy
Dear Mr. President,
Happy New Year. Welcome to 2018, the singular year that will decide the tide of your skillful maneuvering of the dilapidated Nigerian socio-economic and political structure plundered by those who visionlessly rode wild on the resilient wheels that have kept propelling the most populous black nation on earth.
To be frank, it is with great distress that I decided to pen you this open letter after a vigorous self-debate between the two forces of right and wrong. I had the alternative to either write you this letter openly, since this is the only medium through which I believe I can get my message across to you, given the human barbwire and barricades around you and your plum office – or continue to do what I have been doing for the past two years; ‘Siddon Look’ as wisely advised and recommended by the late Nigerian Cicero, Mr. Bola Ige. May his humble soul rest in peace.
But at the end, I chose the former and here I am, trying to go the trendy way of the grandmaster of open letters, Baba Ota, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in line with his famous letter to erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan. But he, unfortunately, refused to read the lines by the old master of Nigerian politicking. All the same, I am writing in hope that my own letter will find its way to your desk through the power of the pen and you might see a little wisdom in my prattling.
I want to draw your attention to some time ago in your office at Kaduna, before your second chance as the number one citizen of this great rich nation, where we both sat down for a question and answer session during a course of writing a biography on your humble self, Titled: MUHAMMADU BUHARI: PRINCIPLED & TRANSPARENT, edited and published by Emma U. Okoli.
I can still recall my candid ‘small boy‘ advice to you on your famous court case with the late President Umaru Yar’adua, may his patriotic soul rest in peace; and then my subsequent presentation to you of an article I wrote on same issues in the New Nigerian Newspapers, titled: IF I WERE BUHARI.
Again, I will also like to draw your attention to an article I wrote immediately you won and became the current President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May, 2015, titled: PATIENCE FOR PRESIDENT BUHARI, published online on various social media networks and websites, and finally in my effort as the publisher of SEE Magazine, with an intensive self-published front page cover on you titled: BUHARI DARES CORRUPTION, published in 2016.
You can see, Mr. President, that I have, from time immemorial, been an avid follower and stakeholder in the Buhari Project. So I feel I should, as a matter of patriotism, choose what I believe is the right path to voice my mind this time around on some untidy policies of your administration since your assumption of office. All I beg for is your patience to go through my observations and the heart and wisdom to bear and judge them at your discretion.
I feel it won’t be proper to God and my Country to continue to ‘siddon look‘ as this big ship loaded with more than 180 million Nigerians seems to be sinking and heading towards that dangerous ill-tempered iceberg that sank the famous Titanic ship and cemented the fate of the hundreds of enthusiastic passengers on that ill-fated journey. May the Nigerian Ship never sink that way.
But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, as the wise rightly advised; so permit me to join the tiny procession of the few humble and bold people who have decided to come out openly and voiced out their pricked minds on the degenerating circumstances and elements popularly tag ‘The Cabal’ and notoriously known as the wolves and hyenas around you and the Presidency.
To be honest, this is not the beloved country I visualized with you as the President –in-Chief, that country where I had hoped and prayed would experience those magical and miraculous changes you brought about not as a one-time Head of State, but strikingly as a one-time Head of a government agency, the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). I don’t want to dwell on your tenure and successes as a military leader because many analysts view that as a draconian system.
But no sane analyst can fault your success across the country as the head of PTF. True, it is only a paranoid critic that failed to see those wonderful PTF drugs across the various hospitals in this country then, or those long stretch of rural roads with their famous PTF trademarks, including of course the new and renovated public schools, school books, chalk, desks, boreholes and subsidized buses that ferried millions of underpaid civil servants and striving market women and farmers across the states, all these achieved during your short stint as ‘Ship Captain, Muhammadu Buhari‘, who prudently and effectively sailed the PTF ship.
Then I asked myself, could this really be that same Muhammadu Buhari? But, of course, my big eyes can still see your tall frame, stern look, and your frugal hands, including your principled character that has remained the same over the years. Then again, I asked myself that singular question that I am trying to find an answer to: What really went wrong? Yes, Mr. President, what went wrong with those promises and vision you promised the Nigerian people? Top on the list is your famous promise of “I belong to everybody and belong to nobody” declaration. But so far, as many of us have observed, you have proved that you actually do belong to some people, those few wolves marauding around you.
True, Mr. President, I believe and can consciously see that something is wrong if those around you or working under you can blindly allow the names of dead and buried citizens as future appointees of various important and sensitive government establishments and agencies under your administration. I see it as scandalous that they could even advise you to keep such an important list for close to two years without alerting you on the need to as a matter of urgency release the vital list long before now. It is equally my belief that appointments to such important agencies should not have taken that long, given the important role they were expected to play in the proper and efficient running of these agencies, including your administrative and political machinery.
This is 21st Century Nigeria, Mr. President, for God’s sake!, with the global train leaving us far behind. I just hope you won’t believe the cabal this time around, as they try to force their belated excuses about their inept administrative responsibilities to Nigerians and others who still care to listen to most of their rhetoric in defense of the many unjustifiable monthly scandals that have continued to stain and embarrass most of us who voted you in, including your reputation and your administration, and your patriotic and zealous efforts to redeem this battered nation.
Honestly, it will be selfish and callous of me and any prudent Nigerian if we refused to acknowledge all your sacrifice in correcting some of the ills perpetrated against this nation by some thieving politicians, soldiers, judges and civil servants; including your victorious fight against the deadly but now weakened and partially defeated Boko Haram within your short term in office; something your predecessor could not do for close to five years. I can stand boldly anywhere and acknowledge the fact that you gave us back our hope and voice against this murderous sect, including the voices of the so-called elite and statesmen who previously chickened out and hid their scared faces inside their fortified mansions and castles across the country when this deadly sect almost overran the North East and beyond during the peak of their blood thirsty campaign across our beloved country.
Mr. President, if you had not defeated the Boko Haram as you promised during your campaign for God and your Country, then you would not still be the bold General you are that millions of Nigerians believed in and mortgaged their hope and trust. I mean you won’t be proud of wearing that accomplished tag of being a general, retired or otherwise.
Your exploit during the Nigeria – Chad border crisis at which you gave Idris Derby a ‘Bloody Nose’ is of course legendary in many minds and now part of our proud history books. So, defeating Shekau and his ragtag Boko Haram sect should no doubt have been your topmost assignment as you promised to uphold during your swearing in of defending the integrity of Nigeria and its people. On this many of us will ever remain thankful and roll out the drums when you finally and completely defeat, exterminate and pull off this dangerous fang sucking our blood. But something seems to be wrong in your current push against these forces of evil as the snake head has refused to die.
Common sense, I believe, should tell us that there is something wrong in your administration’s inability to checkmate the invariable rampage and killings going on across the country in the name of herders and farmers clash. No! Sir, this is more than clash, but genocide against humanity.
The recent crisis in Bwari Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory just a little distance from Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power, is a shame to our collective sense as a nation. If we allow such crisis to ignite across the capital, then there is no doubt that Nigeria is drifting towards anarchy, at long run culminating into what is defined as a failed state. Because if Nigerians cannot live peacefully, irrespective of tribe, religion or class, in their Federal capital, (Constitutionally a ‘No Man’s Land’), then one might as well pack his loads farther into an isolated island away from the country of myopic reasoning and discrimination based on tribe, colour and religion.
I believe its time you swing a big stick at these senseless killings in the name of religion and tribe. Time to crush that bigoted bug of indigent and settler jargons from our system, this including that narrow minded and repressive Federal Character malady eating away at our fabric and collective sense as a nation.
Common sense, I believe, should tell us that something is wrong in our social economic and political development as a nation as a result of relying blatantly on this incompetent reasoning all instigated by this evil federal character element that has retarded our development as a great nation with everything under the sun. With square pegs placed in round holes across the country.
I honestly believe something went wrong the very day you agreed to listen to this faceless cabal around you who selfishly pushed you to increase fuel pump price, and like magic, Nigerians were forced to buy petrol for N145 from the hitherto grumbling price of N85 per litre during the Jonathan era. I still believe this singular unappraised act necessitated the current suffering being experienced by the masses of this country; those hopeful and long suffering masses who had hoped you came to wipe their tears and redeem their dehumanized status to that of free, unsuppressed citizens of our great country.
Many of us could not believe it. In fact, I had thought the figure was a mistake, the right price from you would be N45, so I had confidently believed that the N145 initial rumor was all but a joke, for I, like millions of other Nigerians, had all blindly hoped for that miraculous price of N50 naira per litre as promised and promoted during your campaign. But, alas, the wolves were right and laughing secretly to their plot as we had no alternative than to adjust our melded frames and endure the agony of buying fuel and kerosene at the highest increased price ever recorded in the history of this country, and yet things are still wrong.
This tormented price hike hurriedly increased the price of the mighty dollar, and thus began the outrageous skyrocketing prices of garri, beans, masara, dawa, gyero, elubo, akpu. Kpomo, rice, palm oil, groundnut oil, and even the hitherto cheap fura da nono were not left out in this crazy price raising competition. These previously essential foods of the Nigerian masses suddenly became unaffordable to the average Nigerian and their prices have never gone back the same since then.
Then came the most repressive New YEAR’s gift of the year – the sudden rumour of another increase of fuel price again, less than one year before your first tenure expires, and probably a few months before programmes and campaigns for your reelection begins; although you are yet to tell Nigerians if you are still interested in this cumbersome but spicy position or not. Mr. President, I think the cabals have this time around succeeded in shoving a disastrous shovel in your hands to ultimately dig your downfall.
You might have noticed that Nigerians might be a patience people, but they are not gullible. So it should not come as a shock to you when they turn their back on you and all your administration’s little achievements during the forthcoming Presidential election, just as they patriotically and morally swept out your predecessor just a few years ago, including others who came before him.
Mr. President, don’t allow them to use you to push Nigerians to the wall to avoid getting bit. Be sharp and beware of those who are currently boasting in their lone voices of a sweeping victory for you across their local governments and states come 2019, for the reality, if you prudently scrutinize, would reveal to you that most of them have lost base and relevance in their places and in the eyes and minds of the people. Again, don’t get carried away and be over-confident by that large turnout of crowd during your last visit to Kano State and the euphoria, for it is important to comprehend that the presidency cuts across all regions and states in the country and the decision of voters from the other states and local governments will ultimately decide who occupies Aso-Rock in 2019.
One of the greatest blunders of one of the best presidents in American history, the dramatic and pragmatic John F. Kennedy, was his blind mistake of always listening to many suggestions of his inner circle or just like you, ‘cabals’ around him on important national issues and policy.
President Kennedy’s administration’s big blunder in his first year in office was the shocking bungled invasion of Cuba in 1961, orchestrated by the CIA. The then newly elected President Kennedy had closed his reasoning to those who cautioned him against the invasion, rather giving his presidential ears to the inner cabal who controlled the administrative machinery inside the White House. They spilled him different sweet yarns on how simple it would be for Cuban Mercenaries backed by disguised American forces to overthrow the revolutionary Fidel Castro and his government. And when operation Bay of Pigs took place, Castro not only humiliated the President of the United States, he rounded up the would be mercenaries and external forces like pack of wood in his well fortified mountains.
According to reports, there were many things the American spy agency (CIA) and the president did not know, among them that Fidel Castro had a favourite fishing spot near the isolated swamp and shoreline of the Bahia de Cochinos. He had plans to develop the area as a workers’ resort. He knew the terrain, and he equally knew the people of the area, and so when they called the alarm of the invasion, the Cuban leader quickly moved in thousands of his troops to encircle the little exile forces.
President Kennedy felt betrayed; in the days that followed he was reportedly seen talking to himself, sometimes staring at his trusted men by interrupting conversations with lines like: “How could I have been so stupid?”
In a meeting with his predecessor, President Eisenhower, after the defeat, the ex -President asked him some few moral questions when Kennedy was complaining about his position as the president and the Cuban crush, no “one knows how tough this job is until after he has been in it a few months”, Kennedy complained.
“Mr. President” Eisenhower said, “if you will forgive me, I think I mentioned that to you three months ago”.
“I certainly have learned a lot since,” Kennedy replied.
“Mr. President,” his predecessor continued, “before you approved this plan, did you have everybody in front of you debating the thing so you got the pros and cons yourself and then made the decision, or did you see those people one at a time?”
This was some vital questions the charismatic 35th President of the United States could not give a reasonable answer to. But pacing his office later alone with a friend, President Kennedy said, “I sat around that day with all these fellas all saying, ‘This is gonna work, and this won’t go, saying ‘Sure’, this whole thing will work out,’ Now in retrospect, I know damn well that they didn’t have intention of giving me the straight word on this thing. They just thought that if we got involved in the thing, that I would have to say, ‘Go ahead, you can throw all our forces in there, and just move to Cuba’… Well, from now on it’s John Kennedy that makes the decisions as to whether or not we’re going to do these things.”
Lesson here, Mr. President – you must learn how not to rely too much on the words and advice of the cabal and other sycophants around you. You must learn to know how to listen and debate what you have heard from your advisers and make the ultimate decisions yourself. It should be the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari, not the decisions of a few, selfish, short-sighted individuals under whatever guise or appointment around you.
Although you won’t blame the cabal much, because like all Nigerians, they are all struggling to retain their positions and survive; ‘where man dey work, na there he dey chop,’ as Nigerians would say. But you must be wary of how gluttonous the men around you are over feeding their insatiable stomachs so that others can also feed their hungry ones as well.
In fact, Mr. President, I want to let you know that I am in support of those who have come out boldly to advise, caution and constructively criticize you and your policy since coming into office. I have decided to lend my voice to that of your humble wife, Hajia Aisha Buhari, who famously voiced out her pains against the dangerous cabals around you, including the voices of other ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad who have noticed the glaring shape of the wrongs going on in your administration. Although most of us don’t know how ‘tough it is to be president’ but what I believe many of us do know is that it is not everybody that is lucky to be president of a rich nation with diverse people like us, and again nobody but God whom in His supreme understanding vest it upon you to lead us towards our salvation as a country from those corrupt thieves you have helped expose. Although, we have not seen any serious prosecution and sentencing so far, but thank God, Nigerians now know them and we are proud of this under your watch as president.
To be frank, I did not write this letter without anticipating a series of criticisms, attacks and bombshells verbally from different angles, the cabal and their foot soldiers, including the foxes and wolves around you. But all the same, I have said what I wanted to voice out for God and my Country. It is now left for you to listen or just ‘siddon look’ as recommended by one of the most witty and intelligent politician of our time, whose sad fate unfortunately ended in the hands of faceless cabals around him.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Please accept my best personal regards.
Citizen Ahmed Dodo