Third Term Politics: Dear Segun, Dear Sunday (Week 3)

by Banjo Odutola

Dear Sunday,

The signing off of your last letter is a new one. Sunday of Arewa. For a minute, I thought it was your baronetcy. Friends of our age, as you know refer to you as Joseph in the land of Pharaoh. The import should not be too difficult to unravel. There are parts of your letter to which, I would make a brief reference. You consider our Constitution amendment as “foolhardiness”. I do not agree, sir. If you were referring to elongation of my tenure – that is different. I cannot contend enough that I am willing to die for Nigeria. Mischief makers have converted what I said. They claim that I said I was willing to die. How can that be true when there is too much work in the presidency of this nation; and I am the only one capable of doing it, in the whole of Nigeria. Sunday, I am not for dying!

Your candour amazes; and I shall not quibble with your allegation of equal responsible for the failure of our country as a nation. At old age, you rightly said it all about our healthcare system. If I may prescribe an anodyne: consider using Nigerian doctors and nurses in Britain. Our country may ostensibly gain from your adversity. I hope my patriotism unlike yours does not offend. I make mention of this issue because too many rich Nigerians prefer treatments abroad by Anglo-Saxon doctors. The skin colour of the doctors should not matter. Many of our children are competent in their work.

In your first letter, you stated: One of our most respected distinguished Generals recommended you to Nigerians as a man they could trust. He was even reported to have threatened “to checkout” of Nigeria like Andrew, if you were not elected President.” Were you referring to Yakubu (better known as General T.Y. Danjuma Rtd)? He came to see me the other day; and as reported – he read the Riot Act. I had thought his visit would accord us opportunity to build bridges and make amends. He had no time for palliatives. You know him well enough. In his soft voice – he left me with no doubts that we are poles apart. From our last encounter – I adduced he came to save his wife. In case, I considered Daisy would influence him. In his private moments, he must regret what he has bestowed on Nigeria. Is he now going to “check out” like Andrew? Heaven knows. Our people now must regret not taking him seriously at his threat. What a mess his conscience must be. In 1998, he had said, I was best for Nigeria. I still am. However, he should have learnt in the Army never to rely on flawed characters. It is better to rely on systems, institutions and doctrines.Knowing him – he never runs from a fight. His subtlety is first class. I am, at this stage not too worried about him. It is a shame Daisy cannot be counted upon for this project. May be I should just make her an Ambassador to a country like Australia. That should place her and Yakubu safely out the picture. Do you believe Yakubu will leave town?

There is more about “checking out like Andrew”: Guess who is out of town. Mr. Fix it. It is reported Chief Tony Anenih, Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees and my right hand man is in the United States (Sun On-line 06.05.2006). I do not believe it. “Chief” is instructed to report to my office as soon as possible. Is he trying to play the same game as you? In your case, the attack by armed robbers was widely reported. Your medical treatment is a good alibi. What of “Chief”? He has not been attacked other than tongue lashing by me. Is that enough to go for medical check-up? I am reluctant to write to Nuhu Ribadu of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate claims against the “Chief” as made by that infantile Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, the dreamer who wants to be president. Can you imagine such effrontery of purpose? Anyway, the investigation may be a good diversion. Whilst the nation concentrates on hanging my right hand man and Mr. Fix it. My foot-soldiers can continue applying pressure of the Senate President, Ken Nnamani – to relax rules in the Upper Chamber. I must confess my reservation about Senator Nnamani. He never makes eye contact with me. One day – he gives impression he is on my side. The next day, what is published of him is the opposite. He is unlike Senator Ibrahim Mantu who has become more regal than royal, in his belief of our venture.

Someone said to me the other day that Senator Mantu was a liability to our campaign; and I should consider Senator Tunde Ogbeha (PDP, Kogi) and Senator David Mark (Benue) instead. True, they are retired soldiers. Are they not Ibrahim’s friends and boys? Now that their master is not in support of my plans – would I be stupid to ask his men to organise the success of my plans? Sunday, even if you do not believe in my abilities – grant that I know a snare when I see one. At this time there is no room for any of Ibrahim’s men at Aso Rock.

You may be right that none of my longstanding friends see wisdom in me retaining the presidency. Of all people – can you imagine Ibrahim advising my term elongation will bring chaos? I respect what he had to say. He alone knows what it is to plunge a nation into chaos. He has experience of faceless and bogus Plaintiffs bringing court action in the name of Association For A Better Nigeria. What about those newspaper adverts for his tenure elongation? Have I descended so low to be lectured by Ibrahim, the Maradona? It does not matter, if he, too, does not want to support me, anymore.

I did not beg for this job, as president. I was looking forward to spending time with my Chickens at Otta before he invited me to consider it. I have succeeded beyond my own expectation. Why should I depart now, that my policies are not yet institutionalised? By that, I mean, why should I be worried about obligations of natural justice? In all seriousness, if you love Nigeria, “a country where anything goes”; and you have unfettered powers to orchestrate a change of the constitution – would you not do so, Sunday? I am the only one who knows what is best for our country. I am the only one who has worked hard to gain respectability for it. In my tenure – the Queen of Great Britain, American President, French President, Chinese President, etc, have visited the country. Do you consider these great people would have bothered coming, if not for me in the presidency?

Sunday, say and write what you like – I will do my part to protect my job. I love Nigeria. I have done a great deal for her. Imagine how much I spent on Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting; consider the amount expended on 8th All Africa Games; what of the Africa Development Bank meeting? Where, I had hoped a Nigerian would be appointed as head of the Organisation – only to find out countries, I had thought were friendly, stood against my nominee. There is a parallel lesson from that episode. I am little disappointed to be surrounded by those I ough

t not to trust. Do you all assume that I am unaware the same people that led General Abacha astray are the people on whom I now rely? Do you for a minute believe that I am unaware my antagonists in this third term venture are the same people that fought General Abacha’s administration for my freedom? Whatever you blame me for – I have instructed my boys not to organise any marches in support of this venture; and neither are they to detain anyone save for people arrested because of incontrovertible evidence of treason.

Can you imagine someone suggested we should seek Daniel Kanu’s assistance to organise two million youth march in Abuja? Now that Ghali Na’Abba; Audu Ogbeh and Funke Adedoyin have been alleged to be planning disturbances – would Kanu’s two million youth march not stoke the proverbial fire? I have suggested we calm our nerves; and re-strategise. I may even invite my foot-soldiers to a Retreat on my Farm. I love Retreats: even, if there are no dividends from them, at this presidency, in the last seven years; and Nigeria is a confirmed Failed State.

At the Presidency – we organise all sorts of Retreats. We had one recently. The organisers came from abroad. They brought their foreign trainers and some of our boys in Diaspora. I enjoyed the day. Even though, I wondered if this is the type of leadership training, presidents of other nations get involved in. I am more comfortable when home bred intellectuals deliver these trainings. How can “home-bred” intellectuals be involved? I have destroyed the Universities as a tower of knowledge and a place of learning. Must I not frown at foreigners bringing their indoctrinations which has no “Nigerian Factor?” Do I need more Retreats? For now, if anyone out there can teach me what President Yoweri Musoveni of Uganda did to retain his presidency – that is the type of Retreat, I want to attend. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in its “Focus on Africa” Edition of 20th January 2003, suggested: “anyone who would like to know how to rule a country for decades should consult President Omar Bongo of Gabon.” Whoever arranged Retreats for my good friend, Omar – is welcomed at Aso Rock. We have had enough of all these fanciful Retreats that lead nowhere, for now.

Writing about my friend, Omar – I am reminded of Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya; and his speech to the Senegalese parliament as guest of honour at the country’s 46th independence anniversary of that country, where he is reported to have “urged lawmakers on the continent to expunge presidential term limits.” Of all people to advise me, I cannot take Ghaddafi seriously. He knows that much. If he is talking in supportive terms, I am worried.

Just as an aside. We signed the Darfur Pact, yesterday. Whether you like it or not – that is another of my successes. I have done so much for Africa; and Nigeria, particularly. I know many Nigerians do not know how to locate Darfur on the map. What matters to them is nearer home than so far away in Sudan. Many are saying: charity begins at home. Is that a reference to my Third Term bid? Anyway, I meant to inform you of the near fisticuff in the Senate on the first day amendments of the Constitution were debated. I am passionately of the opinion that I must forever remain the leader of my political party – so as to instruct de-selection of hooligans parading themselves as: “Honourable members” of our National Assembly. They all fear that I am the only one that can arrange their de-selection. Look at that former Governor of Balyesa State who boasted whilst in London that I could not touch him. Where is he now? I wonder what impressions delegates from Sudan formed when pictures of our rowdy senators were shown on Television?

This brings me to the issue of television live debate. I have instructed a quick study into its effect. It appears more of a hindrance than assistance to me in the Upper House. I shall keep you posted on that issue. Keep well. I have just received fantastic news about Chief Anenih which requires urgent attention. Keep taking the tablets; and respond sensibly.

Yours sincerely,

Segun – a.k.a Baba Iyabo.

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