By Dele Momodu
Our dear President, please permit me to write my last epistle to you as our leader and Commander-in-Chief. By this time next week, I expect you to have flown back to Yenagoa via Port Harcourt. How I wish I could have the opportunity of being on that last trip, not to mock you but to capture your swinging moods in those few moments of realising that the end has come eventually.
I would love to know how many of your big friends would take the pain to follow you or if most would abandon you to your fate and move on pronto to the new brides. Even as a writer with what I believe is vivid imagination, I’m not able to paint a picture of the sort of life or future that awaits you in Otuoke, Yenagoa, Abuja, Chad, Germany, Dubai or wherever you decide to hibernate in the short or long run.
Let us give thanks to God no matter the situation. You have been the luckiest man I know in Nigeria or anywhere else for that matter. You have been in high office for the past 16 years and I doubt if any other soul has had such uncommon favour. Therefore, it shouldn’t be any big deal to you, Sir. Though as a human being, one would still expect that you would feel the pain of rejection and dejection as they usually walk hand-in-hand like romantics do. It is sad that it had to end like this despite many warnings and prophesies foretold by me and a few others.
I’m not sure you saw or read any or all of the open letters published on this very page in the last five years or so. It was not that I was a busybody but I was genuinely concerned about the many afflictions that have kept our nation backward for so long. And my hope was that you would be able to fulfil a sizable proportion of your electoral promises of 2011. But that was not to be. Rather, your government waltzed from one crisis to another while you allowed yourself to be scammed by the scavengers of power who litter our political landscape.
All the appeals I made in good faith were rebuffed and pummelled by some of your aides, friends and supporters but I did not mind them because I knew a day like this would come when I would sadly have the chance to say I told you so, even though it was my fervent wish that it would not happen that way. I am never one to gloat over somebody’s misfortune and I will not do so now although I have been proved right.
However, the time has finally come to rewind and remind you of those efforts a few of us made to avert the sort of repercussions that we are now witnessing. How I wished you had listened at the time. Those who called us unprintable names and lied through their teeth that you’ve truly transformed Nigeria more than any other Nigeria have since abandoned ship. For me and my house, it is a grand opportunity for us to see man in his true colour and in animal skin. I have decided to revisit those letters hoping the incoming government would learn useful lessons from your example and avoid similar pitfalls.
It is perfectly normal for governments to get drowned in the cacophony of adulations from soldiers of fortune that have no scruples, and feel no remorse, about running their country aground. But to everything there is always a season and a reason. We cannot rule out the hands of destiny in the affairs of homo sapiens. That probably explains the obduracy of your government to take on board all reasonable advice.
I will now quote as copiously as time and space permits from some of the letters I wrote to you with religious fervour.
The first passage comes from My Kobo Advice For Mr President (ThisDay 08 December 2012):
“Sir, let me say emphatically that the biggest problem with Nigerian leaders is that once they attain power, they vacate this earth and migrate to another planet far away from fellow citizens. Leaders are elected to serve the people but in Nigeria we are compelled to serve our leaders… This is why it is difficult for most of you to know what goes on in the real world…
“I have decided to adopt a new approach in my column. I will take it upon myself to write this open letter as regularly as necessary and proffer solutions to different issues, in the hope that you will get to read it. I will tell you what your aides will never tell you. It is up to you to carefully read what I write and take your own decision. Let it be said that we told you but did nothing about it… I’m convinced that if you know the magnitude of problems confronting Nigerians you will work harder and change your style of governance unless you’re determined to fail spectacularly like others before you. I pray this will not be your portion…”
Sir, on March 1, 2014, I wrote My 20 Billion Advice to C-in-C. I doubt if you saw or read that as well but I will recap for the sake of this historical excursion:
“Our dear Commander-in-Chief, I write to you today with a bleeding heart. These past weeks have been extremely bloody in some parts of Nigeria. Every time I think of it, I get the feeling that those parts are not part of us. They belong elsewhere, probably in some remotest corner of the world. Those hapless and helpless citizens cannot be our own the way that we’ve allowed them to be treated. They are total strangers in a foreign land. As such, we’ve not been able to offer them the protection they deserve and the succour they desire. They have been manacled, mangled, massacred so mercilessly and ruthlessly. They’ve been butchered like rams in abattoirs. I’ve seen lurid pictures of fresh corpses and bodies of innocent victims sent to early graves without reason…
“Sir, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming you for this unprecedented crisis. It did not begin under your watch, although some may claim, uncharitably perhaps, that it has escalated under it. I cannot reasonably suggest that you’re uncaring and nonchalant about this monumental tragedy. I think the problem is that of miscommunication, as is so often the case with your administration and this has been amplified by your body language. The problem of this magnitude requires a more resolute and concerted response. You cannot treat cancer with Paracetamol…
“In seeking to secure another term in office, you have allowed some people to amass enemies on your behalf. They did not know how to persuade people with reason and dialogue as demanded by democracy… Every critic must be stricken down and criminalised by the attack-dogs. They dissipate energy on irrelevant things while the roof is on fire… This is what has led to the implosion and conflagration in your party, PDP…”
On March 29, 2014, I painted the following scenario about how the election of 2015 would pan out (it was titled The Anatomy of APC and PDP 2):
“The way it stands is that PDP is poised to present President Jonathan without any shade of doubt. The PDP primary is going to be a rubber-stamp and a coronation at once. They are not about to leave certainty for uncertainty. Ideally Jonathan’s re-election would have been an easy walkover but not anymore. He now has many forces to contend with. The first is lack of physical development or visible performance on ground. Four years are more than enough for a serious and determined government to set a new tone and tempo for true transformation or transfiguration. What we are witnessed is too much movement but so little motion.
“Secondly, he has also brought the roof crashing down by not trudging the path of frugality that was laid by his dearly departed boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The simplicity of his boss was hurriedly jettisoned for a psychedelic style of governance. ..
“Thirdly, the President’s inability to deal concretely with the grave security threats and everyday carnage may turn out to be his major albatross… The fourth problem the President now has to face is how to neutralise the combined strength of the new opposition called APC. He can no longer gloss over the danger they pose to his second coming. As a scientist, I’m sure the President understands that politics is a game of numbers… Relying on election rigging is becoming obsolete and increasingly difficult. Social media and mobile telephony are breaking down those walls that aided electoral malfeasance in our recent past…”
Please, let’s fast forward a bit. On October 18, 2014, I wrote what many have termed a most defining article I called In Search of Mathematicians:
“Let’s break it down into simple Maths. Jonathan had a good spread scoring 25% or more in 31 States. Buhari managed to score 25% or more in 16 States and yet got a cumulative result of over 12 million votes. A good Mathematician should be able to help us here because I wish to show our President’s handlers that they will pay heavily for complacency if they assume and take it for granted that they can beat Buhari easily like PDP had always done in the past…
“My free advice to the Jonathan campaigner is simple; stop projecting our President as a sectional leader whose only qualification is where he comes from. Stop raining insults on Northerners and avoid maligning innocent Muslims. The religious card you wish to play will never play out in favour of President Jonathan… Our President’s handlers should worry more about how the goodwill of 2011 got frittered away in such a jiffy. Above all, they should urgently search for competent Mathematicians. Believe me, the figures are no longer adding up…”
Sir, from the above, which represents only a few of the strident appeals I made for you to rise above the babble of your so-called adherents and listen to the real people who wished you well, you could see that I tried my best for you. I warned of the danger signals and the portending clouds of doom overhanging your administration and the campaign it was pursuing but I was dismissed as an alarmist. I was labelled with many names and tags by your Party attack dogs, false devotees and even obviously sponsored internet trolls who effectively said I was a rabid supporter of what had been a lost cause before and would be a losing cause in the imminent elections.
Nevertheless, I persevered as did a few others, not because of anything other than that your success in government would be the success of Nigeria and that is what is most important to the generality of the good citizens of this country.
The rest is history. What has happened is the inability of your team to read the mood of the nation and make the necessary sacrifices. All religions speak about the efficacy of hearkening to admonitions. In the Ifa literary corpus of the Yoruba there are examples of those who called the Oracle a liar and suffered dire consequences. My ardent prayer for the incoming government of Buhari and Osinbajo is that they will not depart from listening to the sincere voices of their passionate Nigerian followers. They will not take our people for granted and they will not treat them with impunity or claim they know what is best for them when the people do not feel the same way.
As for you Mr President you have run your race in government. God has been kind to you even at the end by giving you the grace to realise that you should concede defeat and congratulate your opponent. That has turned out to be an astute decision, a masterstroke and possibly the best thing that may ever have happened to you in all these lucky years of being at the helm of affairs of our great nation.
At the end of it all, I will leave you with this Ifa verse:
“Baba alawo a ku
Onisegun a rorun,,,” meaning the Oracle will die, the herbalist too must depart this world and in effect “everything must have an end”.
You came, you saw and it is left to history to determine whether you conquered.
I wish you the best as always.
– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Dele Momodu/Thisday