Pendulum by Dele Momodu
Your Excellency, I bring you good tidings today Sir. Let me confess that I’m actually in the mood to commend you for the first time since those early days of your Presidency in 2015. At that time, your coming to power had attracted national and international acclaim. The whole world applauded and extolled you and Nigeria not just because we had gone through a democratic process that led to the fall of an incumbent, but more especially because you, the people’s General, were much loved and expected to perform magic and turn the nation’s fortune around.
There were great expectations that you had the diligence, discipline and wizardry to change Nigeria for the better after the 16 years of PDP’s indiscipline and profligacy.
Sir, I will not bore you with many things that have happened since then, but I need to quickly refresh your memory about a few monumental actions and decisions that redefined your Presidency for the worse. You started with so much promise, but sadly allowed some people to mislead and persuade you to hand over power to them on a platter of gold so that they could satisfy their selfish, personal cravings and narcissistic desires at great cost to our already defiled and despoiled nation.
One. The primary error came when your party APC started fighting a war of attrition almost as soon as you were inaugurated. Some of your leaders were tearing at each other’s throats the way babies would do over lollipops. That war has not ended. It has only concluded its Part 1. The Part two obviously bodes great disaster for your Party and if you do not see it now, then I fear not only for the Party, but for our dear nation.
Two. It took you all the time in the world to assemble your cabinet. And when the cabinet was eventually constituted, it was nothing to write home about. You simply recycled many of the old fuddy-duddies we had always complained about.
Three. A cabal simply hijacked power from you and started misbehaving. You of course created the enabling environment for this cabal by populating your inner circle with close family and friends without much care or concern for their capacity and competence. And when our dear beloved First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, your adorable wife raised early alarm, she was treated with cold shoulders.
Four. This one was due to no fault of yours. You took ill and the sickness removed you out of circulation for several months. Unfortunately, as with everything that your handlers have laid their hands on, this was badly handled and the trust and faith Nigerians had in you began to erode.
Five. This was a consequence of Four. While you were away, your Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stabilised your government and ran the affairs professionally. Your cronies and lackeys were most displeased. The climax was when the former Director General of the DSS, Lawal Musa Daura, was booted out by the Vice President over the unreasonable and almost treasonable invasion of the National Assembly by some gun-toting and fully hooded operatives of our secret service.
Even if the response of the VP was considered harsh, it was the best decision at that moment. And it saved your government global condemnation and obvious embarrassment. They felt that the VP’s performance showed up your ineptitude and lethargy. They forgot that you are a team and it was your confidence in your Vice President that made you fulfil your constitutional obligation to hand over to him without being forced. However, as soon as you returned, we saw a reversal of most decisions reached, and the progress made in your absence simply evaporated.
Six. The decision to remove and replace the Acting Director General of DSS, Matthew Seiyefa, who replaced Daura was in total bad faith. The man was a thoroughbred career spook and distinguished scholar who had no interest in politics. He had introduced me to Daura much earlier and I liked both of them. Seiyefa had less than one year to his mandatory retirement, yet you sacked him.
Many of us recorded this sin against you, amongst so many bordering on sectionalism and parochialism. His only offence was that he came from Bayelsa State, the homestead of your immediate predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan. This was simply too partisan and not what was expected of a purportedly rejuvenated nationalist like you.
Seven. You never deemed it fit to speak to Nigerians as regularly as required and necessary. Most times, we read about Nigeria and your governance in interviews granted by you to foreign media. This was not good enough. Your media aides did not help matters. They claim, odiously and infuriatingly that it is not your style to speak to us. Furthermore, your media aides and their followers pounced on your critics regularly and described us as wailing wailers. They conveniently forgot that many of us were stakeholders who worked assiduously for your victory.
Eight. The desperation to win your second term by means fair or foul was unfortunate. We expected you to improve on the democratic structures you inherited from Jonathan, but you dismantled them without any regrets or recriminations and reversed our electoral standards by many years, if not decades. You took us back to the years of rigging, abuse of federal and military might and gangsterism. We saw earlier tell-tale signs in the grave misconduct of the Osun State election. Matters came to a disgraceful crescendo during the last Presidential election. I believe you could still have defeated Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in a free and fair contest, but by using repulsive and repugnant underhand tactics your victory became tarnished, pyrrhic and forever a subject of controversy and derision.
Nine. By far, your worst mistake was in thinking Nigeria could be turned into a Fulani colony. I have no doubt that this is impossible. I’m fully backed by elementary but otherwise sufficient knowledge of world history. It was wrong to assume this could be sustained for long. Nations with similar configurations such as ours never survived after the collapse of dictatorships. Unless you have the means to stay in power forever, all these structures you have erected to favour your Fulani clan will soon collapse like a pack of cards!
Is that not what happened to the Niger Delta Mafioso who reigned supreme before you. When you were elected in 2015, you were handed a national mandate. Sir, why did you choose to be a local champion when your place could have been guaranteed in the pantheon of world’s greatest statesmen. See how former President Olusegun is strutting around the world today and enjoying encomiums everywhere. Most of your appointments have been grossly unfair to the letters and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution you swore to uphold.
Ten. The relegation of your brilliant, cerebral and fiercely loyal Vice President was rather ungodly and unfortunate. Many of us were aware of your limited intellectual capacity but followed you sheepishly on the premise and hope that you had some formidable company in Osinbajo and other great Nigerians you could rely upon. This man campaigned rigorously and vigorously for you, so that you could jointly return in 2019.
You did not have the stamina to do much but his infectious enthusiasm and efficacious lyrics carried your team in areas you could not penetrate. Indeed, if not for God’s intervention and enduring mercy, this gentleman nearly lost his life and that of his aides in a helicopter crash in Kogi State. Haba! Not just that, Osinbajo took all the flak and bashing for your misdemeanours against the South and Middlebelt. His Christian bodies and buddies nearly ostracised him like a pariah. He did not flinch because he believed in you and the vision that he believes you both must make this country great. Yet he is now being instalmentally and systematically stripped of all vestiges of power.
I have gone through this long preamble in order to demonstrate why I’m excited to write you today after I gave up on you months ago. The good news is I’m now convinced we can still help you return to the path of honour and success. Though time is fast ticking away, I believe you still have the chance of writing your name in gold. This is because you appear to have woken up from your lukewarmness and seem to be listening again.
Sir, it is heart-warming that at your age you are still said to be working so hard day and night. But the energy you have dissipated and wasted on receiving visitors in the past should now be conserved and channelled to serious matters of State, because we are in difficult, perilous and uncharted times. This is not difficult nor impossible.
I was delighted to see how you responded to the hues and cries of many of us when you refused to address the nation. You won me over when you appeared on teltelevision. It is not so much about what you said, but what you did. A small step, but a giant step, nonetheless. I’m sure, you have felt good and fulfilled yourself in the past one week. It is never an act of cowardice, merely an act of wisdom to capitulate to the sensible voices of reason. It is a wise decision to finally lead frontally.
I also must congratulate you for reinstating your Vice President back to relevance by asking him to deal with an area that he is undoubtedly astute at, economic sustainability, because, when this pandemic is over, the country must be able to continue without having suffered too much of a setback. Let me assure you that he is your sure banker towards securing your enduring legacy in the next three years. Please, worry less about who would succeed you in 2023 and worry more about how history would judge your uncommon privilege of returning to power after 30 years.
Most of the hawks hovering around you lack what it takes to govern in a modern 21st century government. God gave you the Angel in Osinbajo. You probably know by now that I’m acting in good faith and not that I want anything from you or Osinbajo. All I want and crave is good governance and progress, because a better Nigeria is better for us all.
I pray you succeed Sir. It will be to our eternal shame if you fail spectacularly as you seemed doomed to do a few weeks back. I will now make a few suggestions as always. Space limits me today because I would have liked to develop on our ideas of how to fight the corona virus, help the people as they make great sacrifices and ensure that the social life and the economy are not so battered that they end up comatose and incapable of being revived when the pandemic is all over.
One. Please, stop the ongoing meaningless, purposeless and useless spending spree. No country, no matter how wealthy, pays cash to citizens on the streets as if in a bazaar. Your Minister of Information was quoted as saying your government has disbursed three billion naira to Nigerians in 24 hours. I can only pray that this is a mere hyperbole. If indeed it is true, that this humongous sum has been frittered away in that time, then it is really very sad and unfortunate, and I weep for this country.
It is impossible to pay all Nigerians and any money being doled out to our citizens must go to only those who deserve to get it, the poor and needy. The banks can start by coming up with a database of poor Nigerians and credit their accounts. I am aware that this country is underbanked, and we must immediately find other ways of identifying these categories of people in our society. It is most ridiculous to waste three billion on some faceless ghosts in 24 hours or any other period at that.
Two. Many people have been clamouring for restructuring. This not because it excites them to be unnecessarily rambunctious. It is due to the lop-sidedness of your appointments. Please, Sir, set up an immediate taskforce notionally headed by you as Chairman and with your Vice President as vice-Chairman to review and redress the anomalies. Give your Vice President all the latitude he needs. He is known as a fair and detribalised Nigerian. I assure you that you and your family and generations unborn will enjoy that decision. It is very easy to shine in Nigeria since Nigerians are easily pleased. Just start from doing basic things that reflect our diversity.
Three. Cut the endemic and all-pervading red tape and bureaucracy that is destroying government and making it impossible for things to get done. Innovation and technology are the ways of the 21st century. We now live in a digital not analogue age. Most of our current bureaucrats are archaic and anachronistic. They will not only stall our progress; they will most certainly draw us back. A new blueprint for running government, which cuts the red tape, needs to be put in place. Obsolete systems and procedures must be dumped.
On COVID-19 we must bear in mind that the lockdown is merely a means to an end. It cannot be seen as a measure to eradicate the plague, but just an opportunity to put good systems in place like improved testing and healthcare generally. Government should concentrate on containment, eradication and developing the country to be able to cope with disasters like this in future.
Reduce electricity tariffs as people are spending longer at home due to no fault of theirs. Have a moratorium by banks on all debts. Reduce interest rates and the foreign exchange rates. Reduce taxes, suspend VAT and have a moratorium as well. Further reduce the price of PMS, it is ridiculously high at N123.50, having regard to the current international price of crude. Diesel and Kerosene prices should be slashed for the same reason.
There is much more I wish to say but space and time won’t permit. You have the assurances of my highest regards Sir.
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