One year after, an open letter to President Buhari By Charles Ofoji

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Your Excellency,

I was one of your die-hard supporters during the 2015 General Elections. Sometimes, I stayed up the whole night, campaigning for you on social media. I never expected anything in return. I did it due to my love for my country, Nigeria. Luckily, my wife did not divorce me that period,

I wanted the best for my country. I am a Nigerian living in foreign land; I am sick of life in exile. However, I still cannot go home either; my country offers me nothing better.

I was much convinced that you were what Nigeria needed to, not to get better, but to put foot in the right direction. Your predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan once held this promise when he told the story of his shoe-less childhood. He was given the chance but he quickly started wearing golden shoes once we trusted him with the mandate to change the country. Needless to say that things got worse under his leadership. I will leave historians to compare the level of corruption under his watch and the one spearheaded by Umaru Dikko under the nose of former President Shehu Shagari.

Sir, before 2015, you have contested for the presidency on three other occasions. Somehow, I was sure that you were not driven by personal ambition, rather by your love for your country. I was convinced that there was something you wanted to do with your fatherland before you go back to your ancestors.

Besides, on a personal note, I was excited with the candidacy of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as Vice President. I know that he is top quality. He was my teacher at the University of Lagos.

You have your flaws. Of course; you are mortal. And it was drummed across the country by those terrified by another coming of Buhari, famous for his zero tolerance for corruption. So many dirty things were said about you by these people. Nonetheless, it never deterred me from believing in you. I guess that was the case with majority of Nigeria, who voted for you in great numbers.

Some say that you did not win Jonathan, rather Nigerians rejected him. I will resist the temptation to go into this argument. It should better be left for political scientists.

Mr. President, nothing flies like time. You finally reached your dream, your destination and now the occupant of Aso Rock Villa. And wham, one year has flown by.

To be candid, you still have not shown me, why you desperately wanted to become president. Make no mistake about the mandate you got. It was the same type we gave to Jonathan . It was to change Nigeria – nothing else will do. And you will be judged by this benchmark. It would not suffice, at the end, to say you tried. I have heard your aides and professional sycophants telling Nigerians to give you time; to be patient with you. That change does not come over night – as if we are too stupid to know this.

As an Igbo man, it was not easy to support you. I was called names by my kinsmen, who failed to put their country first. Sir, if you asked me if you have given me a cause to bend my head in shame before my people? I am not sure I would answer you in the affirmative.

Speeches and sweet talks about the war on corruption aside, you started badly. You inherited a badly divided country. The first thing you should have done on assumption of office would have been to unite the country. Rather you started by deepening the disunity with your lopsided appointments. Then added salt to injury by your unguided outburst that you were appointing only people you trusted. As if the other ethnic groups are bereft of men of integrity.

Even in your recent appointment of Director Generals for Radio Nigeria, NAN, NTA, NOA, NBC, VON, you still did not show remorse. The juicer offices were again given to Northerners. People see these things, Mr. President.

Sir, I also feel that you have not shown enough appreciation to people, who did all to make your presidency possible. Never forget that there times you tried on your own and three times you failed. Honestly, I was not happy with how you treated Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. I get the feeling that the man swallowed all the disrespect in order not to rock the boat he helped to build.

Talking of appointments, I was tight-lipped when you finally, after a long wait, revealed your ministers. The same people who burnt the Nigerian bridge. So what was the long wait for? This question bugged me weeks after you named your team.

Nigeria, our country, is blessed with tremendous human capacity. As an agent of change, I had expected you to find competent and unburdened Nigerians.

Sadly, you have not shown much interest in people in the diaspora. In this way, you neglect valuable partners in your quest to change the country. Whether you like it or not Sir, Nigeria’s best brains are in diaspora. Apart from being qualified, Nigerians, who have lived in functioning societies, are better positioned to know how to fix the problems at home. Nobody goes to work leaving his best tools behind. The State of Israel is a shinning example of how people who came back from abroad helped build their home country.

This apart, your presidency would also not have been possible if not for the support and activities of Nigerians abroad on social media.

Sir, If you wanted to show statesmanship when you refused to influence who emerged leaders of the national Assembly, you only ended up displaying naivety. It is common practice, even in civilized democracies, for a president or prime minister to influence directly or indirectly who emerges as speaker of parliament.

You promised change and should know that you are no longer a dictator. It therefore means that you need good laws to deliver on your promise. Now how can you effect change with a man like Bukola Saraki as Senate President How could a man who is one of the most people who profited from Nigeria the way it is now, allow you to change the status-quo.

Honestly speaking, from the moment you looked away and allowed Saraki to become senate president, I lost hope in your promise of change. Guilty or not, the fact remains that he has lost moral legitimacy. There is too much finger-pointing, which makes his moral baggage over-weight. If Saraki had any iota of honour, he would have long resigned his office. Rather he prefers to put the office of the senate president through ridicule. So Mr. President, as a leader of your party, if you are still serious about change, you must do all to get rid of this man as the leader of the Nigerian legislature.

I would be unfair if I fail to give you credit for pushing down the Boko Haram insurgency and making sure that they are no longer in control of any territory that is part of the geographical space called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The activities of the terror group had once threatened the corporate existence of our dear country. Today that threat has whittled down.

I read your claim that over 11,000 Boko Haram captives have been rescued under your leadership. The trouble with Nigeria is that nothing is verifiable. Anybody can pick the microphone and say anything and the citizens helplessly can not check it. This still remains the case in Nigeria under you. This is an indication that it is still business as usual. Also what you failed to tell us is the fact that Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen have killed over 3,000 Nigerians under your watch.

You have also improved on the record of your predecessor(s) in the war against corruption. Some untouchables have been made to refund part of their loot, while a handful are running for their lives. However, there is discontent in some quarters that your war against graft is selective. They accuse you of protecting your friends and members of your party, who are likewise as corrupt of those that are facing the music.

The truth is bitter. Whether you like it or not, you must sleep over this accusation. A good leader must have a listening ear. A good leader sees criticism as a call to service rather than as the voice of the enemy.

Mr. President, you swore an oath to uphold and defend the laws of the Republic. This to me is your primary duty as president and commandeer-in-chief. Even as you think you are doing good by fighting corruption, there is an overriding need to uphold the rule of law at all times.

You need to call to order some of your men at the Department of State Services (DSS) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, unless they are following your script or your body language. This is not to say that the EFCC has not been doing a great job lately. Nevertheless, there has been flagrant disregard of some democratic values. If we win the war on corruption and lose those values, to me we have won nothing. We rather keep those values, come what may, and lose the war on graft.

Your Excellency, let the truth be told. There is no reason under a democracy for the continued detention of ex-National Security adviser, Sambo Dasuki. If the DSS can not keep a tab on him if he is granted bail, to make sure he does not vanish, then we better close the department. Please order his release now and let the court determine his fate. I would also wish the same for those who are unnecessarily in detention under the pretence that the EFFC is fighting corruption.

To be candid, from all we have heard and read from those that served under Jonathan, who are facing corruption charges, the former president should have been declared wanted by now, if you really want to be taken seriously that your fight against corruption is not selective.

In any case, Nigerians have no gain in sending these people to prison, whereby the tax payers’ money will again be spent on feeding them. Most Nigerians are mostly interested in getting back their money from these people. So if anyone is ready to return what he or she looted, plus a fine, consider granting such a person amnesty, as some people have advocated.

Mr. President, the security agencies are getting wrong signals from you. I guess this has to do with your body language rather than express orders. Which ever is the case, fact remains that you allow them to get away with human rights abuses. No matter the irritation, there is no reason to brutalize people, who are protesting peaceful, in a democracy, talk less of killing them. Many unarmed pro-Biafra agitators have been killed by the military and police. This has to stop. If the military is traumatized, they should vent their aggression on our enemy, which is Boko Haram that has killed and maimed thousands of our brothers and sisters.

I saw you in the United Kingdom, didn’t you hear on your visit that Scotland is aspiring to cease being part of the United Kingdom? Did Cameron send the army to go and kill them?

I personally do not support the struggle of the Biafran agitators. I love my country as presently constituted. The only thing that is needed is more fairness and equity. And you don’t achieve this by brutally suppressing those who are saying that they have not being fairly treated. Therefore, in my assessment, you have handled the Biafran thing very poorly. Sometimes, it seems you forget that, as president, you are the father of the nation.

I was also disappointed with the genocide carried out by your military against the Shiites in Zaria. You will say you did not order it. But what have you done? Nothing. Nobody has been sacked or arrested. You did not even set up a panel to probe the matter, not minding what Kaduna governor is doing. If I am not mistaking, you have not uttered any word of condemnation or comfort to those who lost their loved ones in the massacre. This is terrible Mr. President. I don’t know what you feel or how you see the Shiites, but you must tolerate and respect everybody in a democracy. Therein lies the beauty of the system.

Talking about indifference, your silence over burning national issues and calamities, when the governed expect to hear something from their commandeer-in-chief is worrisome. I was very surprised when it took you long to find your voice over the killings across the country by the Fulani herdsmen. It is simply a sign that either you don’t appreciate the nature of your job or you don’t give a damn. There are times in which you must say something. It is an obligation. Even if you don’t mean it, get your media team to say something.

Mr. President, I cant not cover all I want to tell you, without having to write forever. However, I want to draw your attention to the fact that a vice president is only useful to the extent the president wants him to be. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is one of the brightest men of his generation. This apart, he is a competent man with integrity, who share in your philosophy that public office is a call to service, rather than an invitation to amass obscene wealth. Please delegate more responsibilities to him, including representing you abroad in cases when your presence is not that necessary so that you could concentrate on your job at home.

Sometimes, I have felt sorry for Osinbajo. In most cases, I get the impression that he is your media aide, as his job now mainly is to defend your actions in the media and beg Nigerians to be patient with you.

Osinbajo’s record as Attorney General of Lagos State speaks volumes. He left an enduring legacy and today Lagos legitimately prides itself as the State with the best legal system in the country. I had being expecting you to ask him to start with at least reforming our rotten judiciary. You should know by now that you will never win the war against corruption with a judiciary and police that is also corrupt. You can forget it.

Nigeria needs an overhaul. You cannot talk of change without first reforming the vital institutions. Nigeria you took over was like a vehicle, whose engine knocked. Your promise of change meant that you will buy a new car that will take Nigerians to their destinations. But since you assumed office, you are still trying to get that same old car moving. It will never get far.

Your approach to change could also be likened to a farmer, who started planting on his farmland without cutting the bush and weeding.

Your Excellency, no matter the good marks you may give yourself and your government in your first year in office, after reading this letter, you should know the truth. The truth is that, so far, you have failed on your promise. You have been unable to steer the country unto the right direction. Luckily, you still have three more years to do that. But never forget how the time flies.



Categories: Opinion

12 replies

  1. Cameron did not send soldiers to crush the Scots when they aspired to secede. Food for thought.

    Like

  2. as good as your letter I was disappointed in your reffrance to the previous president, that is d beginning of buhari biggest mistake, let him at least apprehend the fact that Good luck has done something and state his work from is sickness and get strength from is good work

    Like

  3. Bravo Brother,you have hit the nail directly on the head.You have said it all.May Almighty God reward you mightily.Thanks for that beautiful writeup.

    Like

  4. Nedu Onyeneke
    what a write up, I agree with your points … Mr president is just a human like every other individual in Nigeria and I think he needed write up like this to enable him to address his mistakes so far before his tee nor runs out…

    Like

  5. Buhari has contradicted himself in all aspects, and now he is confused. He is also a military dictator in civilian or democratic clothing. How does he expect himself to achieve success and better result when he has no respect for the rule of law? He manipulates the so- called Tsoho, I don’t want to give him a title because he has abused professionalism thereby making mess of the Judiciary.

    Like

  6. I am really impressed by your write-up and I wish our President will read it personally and correct his mistakes,but I see him as a hater of people from the southeastern part of this country.He has already forgotten barely a year now that he ones said that he is the President of “Nobody” rather President of “Everybody”. If you watch his interview with Amapour of the CNN ,you will understand that our President is doing the opposite of what he proclaim. God help Nigeria,three more year is in the offing he can still write his name in the sand of time. This is twenty first century,the herdsmen should settle in there place and feed there cow and stop causing injury to the citizens.Nigeria is not the only country where cows are being rear.

    Like

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