Before It Is Too Late! By Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao

Dear President Jonathan, I have observed with keen
interest the seemingly futile attempts of your
government over the last five years to put an end to
this reign of terror in Nigeria, and it seems obvious
from the plethora of carnage and wanton destruction
of innocent lives that your administration, lacks the
wherewithal to put an end to this madness. Let me
state for the avoidance of doubts, that I am neither a
card carrying member of the opposition All
Progressives Congress, (APC), nor am I associated with
your ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). For me
as an ordinary citizen, neither of the two parties
represents the kind of change Nigeria deserves. As a
matter of fact, the summation of the leadership and
activities of both parties, as presently constituted,
represents the single largest tragedy that has
befallen the Nigerian state since its return to civil
rule in 1999.
Upon your ascension into office in May 2010, I, and
other equally battered Nigerians did feel, that the
country will be better off given your antecedence as
an academic with a PhD degree. But given the events
of the last 4 years (2010-2014), I am gradually being
persuaded to believe (except if a miracle happens)
that your tenure may go down in history as the most
‘negatively unforgettable administration’ Nigeria ever
had. Before engaging this discourse any further,
please permit me to place on record that your
performance in office has not been without ‘positives’
as most of your associates and hangers-on have
drummed into our ears. Most worthy of mention is the
transformation of the country’s economy; however, as
laudable as this achievement appears, I wish you would
agree with me that the processes leading to this
transformation have been set in motion, even before
your assumption of office.
However, my major concern is not about this much
touted economic transformation, rather, the other
failings of your government as a collective. After all, a
student’s success in an examination is not measured on
the basis of his/her individual performance in a
subject, but on the basis of his/her general
performance in all the papers he/she sits for. Mr
President, I therefore would like you in all honesty to
situate your administrations’ performance within the
context of your delivery in other areas of governance,
particularly in the following sectors; education, job
creation, health sector reform, anti-corruption and
more importantly security. My task in this piece is not
to present to your administration a score card, but to
remind you that if this is the best you can offer to
Nigerians, then it is definitely not good enough.
The shady, shameful, abominable, and inhumane
recruitment fraud perpetuated by the Ministry of
Interior, Abba Moro, and the unremitted $20 billion
dollars of oil revenue by the NNPC, a parastatal under
the auspices of another of your appointee, Diezani
Allison-Madueke are pointers to the fact that your
administration if not corrupt, to borrow from the
words of a leader of your party and Speaker of the
House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, ‘is
romancing corruption’. More worrisome was/is your
recent pronouncement at the last Presidential media
chat that what most Nigerians call corruption is
‘stealing’, and not corruption.
While many Nigerians were still battling to come to
terms with what appears as your vote of confidence on
public stealing, another of your appointee, and more
painfully, the man in charge of the nations’ anti-
corruption institution, the Independent Corrupt
Practices and other Related Offences Commission
(ICPC), Mr Ekpo Nta, who ordinary should know
‘better’ came up to the defence of the “corruption is
not stealing” hypothesis. As a student of English
language and Politics, I find both theories rather
disappointing, unfortunate and retrogressive. To
consign this embarrassing postulation (stealing is not
corruption) to the dustbin of history, I present
forthwith a simple analogy. I am the son of my father,
my name is stealing, and my father’s name is
corruption. Regardless of the fact that we do not bear
the same name, the simple truth remains that there
can be no me without my dad. Therefore, there exists
a biological relationship between us. The same way
there is a biological and systemic relationship between
stealing and corruption. To put it more concisely, it is
corruption that breeds stealing; the same way my
father’s action[s] gave rise to me (the son).
From the academic perspective, and according to the
WordWeb , an online dictionary, Corruption refers to
(1) the lack of integrity or honesty (especially
susceptibility to bribery); (2) the use of a position of
trust for dishonest gain, (3) a state of progressive
putrefaction, (4) a decay of matter (either by rot or
oxidation), and, lastly, (5) a moral perversion;
impairment of virtue and moral principles. Stealing on
the other hand has been defined as: “the act of
taking something from someone unlawfully”. What
these definitions suggest is that when an individual
steals, he/she is charged to court for stealing and not
for corruption, but when a man or a woman who
occupies a position of trust or authority steals, such a
character is said to be lacking in integrity or honesty
and is therefore corrupt. The philosophical theory of
‘first cause’ applies here. The first cause of stealing is
corruption, because without corruption, there will be no
stealing. This issue is as simple as this Sir.
Your Excellency, I was therefore appalled by your
attempt to create a distinction between this rather
‘symbiotic parasites’ during the media chat. If you ask
me Sir, utterances like this and   the now infamous (1)
“Boko Haram members have infiltrated my cabinet”
which you very recently corrected as “Boko Haram
members are in the three arms of government” (2)
“50 billion dollars cannot miss, It is ridiculous, because
even the USA will know if it is missing, it is their
money” (3) “I pray and believe that the Chibok
kidnapping will not be like the missing Malaysian plane
with over 200 passengers. It has not been found even
with the best technology at work” and (4) “ If I
even go near that [Borno] state they will just kill
me for nothing”–are statements (with all due
respect to your person and office) that are
unbefitting of the office of the President and
Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
What such statements further do is to lend credence
to the editorials of tabloids like the “New York Times”
and Media houses such as the Cable News Network
(CNN) and the British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC); all of which have previously described your
government as “clueless, corrupt and incompetent”.
Your Excellency, your embarrassment is a national
embarrassment to all Nigerians, and should your aides
not be telling you the truth, Nigeria, over the last
couple of months have graduated from its erstwhile
position of a “moderately ridiculed nation” to one of
the most internationally ridiculed in the world. As a
matter of fact, things have gone so bad, that Nigeria
is now being compared to failing or failed states such
as Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Even your Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku,
was quick to compare Nigeria along these lines in an
interview he granted to Channels Television on
Monday, 19 May, 2014.
A number of factors have been adduced as responsible
for this bastardization: first is the issue of corruption,
most prominent of which is your administration’s
admittance that it could not account for (at least) $
20 billion dollars of oil revenue it earned over a period
of 18 months; second, is the issue of chronic poverty
which Nigerians have been so blessed with despite its
superfluity of natural resources. Even the gains,
achieved courtesy of the recent rebasing of the
economy, have been simultaneously eroded by the
unenviable top position in terms of the ‘country with
the worst leadership in social welfare and
opportunities for its citizens’ which Nigeria occupies.
With the World Bank, arguing very recently, that over
70% of us (helpless and hopeless Nigerians) virtually
lives from ‘hand to mouth ‘and on less than $2 (US
dollars) a day.
However, in what appears as a sharp rebuttal of this
claim, you argued very recently in January 2014at the
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that
Nigeria is not a poor nation. Sir, in justifying your
position, you mentioned that a mere count of the
numbers of private jets parked at the nation’s
airports and an enumeration of the multitude of
Nigerians travelling out of the country on a daily basis
are tell-tale indicators that Nigeria and Nigerians
are indeed rich. I agree with you completely on these
two illustrations you cited, but where I disagree, is
your administration’s obvious denial of the reality as
it applies to these scenarios. First, and I stand to be
corrected Sir, while it is true that Nigerians are
among the best of customers of private jet
manufactures across the globe, the reality however is
that 90% of these Nigerians, are part of the same
cabal and enemies of the Nigerian state who have
continually robbed and denied ordinary Nigerians like
me of: sound and affordable health care, quality
social and infrastructural amenities, quality
education, meaningful employment, and access to
social security through unbridled corruption, and
‘stealing’ of public funds—our collective sovereign and
Your Excellency, on the second defence you put up in
Davos, again it is true that many Nigerians on a daily
basis frequent the nations’ international airports
enroute different destinations. However, the reality is
that most of these Nigerians are citizens who have
been frustrated by a country that has failed to offer
them a platform to enjoy a decent life in their own
country. They are Nigerians who went to the
University and other tertiary institutions with the
hope of getting liveable jobs after graduation, but
ended up in misery even with their first class
certificates. Sir, they are Nigerians who no longer feel
safe in the ‘discomfort’ of their homes because of the
‘fear of the unknown’ and, because the Nigerian
state has failed in its basic responsibility to protect
them from armed robbers, kidnappers, ritual killers,
and the devils’ advocates—Boko Haram.
Your Excellency, should your aides be shying in their
constitutional responsibilities totell you the truth,
Nigeria in 2014 has recently been adjudged as one of
the countries with the highest occurrence of high sea
piracy in the world. Again, Nigeria, as at the end of
2013 and the beginning of 2014, have unfortunately
surpassed Mexico in kidnapping; recording in the
process, one of the cruellest, and second highest
single abduction cases recorded in human history with
the ‘stealing’ of over 230 young girls, from Federal
Government Girls School, in Chibok, Borno State.
Again Sir, between the end of 2013 and the first
quarter of 2014, Nigeria has been reported as having
surpassed Libya, Iraq and Central African Republic,
(CAR), as the country where the worst and most
deadly acts of terrorism and sectarian violence has
occurred in modern time. Indeed, only Syria runs
shoulder to shoulder with our country in this regard. I
know your aides will tell you that these facts are
baseless because they were not substantiated, but I
have chosen very deliberately not to do their jobs for
them. And I challenge any one of them to a public
debate on the veracity of my claims. Let them find
out these statistics by themselves, that is why they
are been paid and called Senior Special Assistants and
Sir, it may interest you to know that even your friend,
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, in his response
to the state of his nation, Uganda, did not just tell
the world how proud and stable his government and
country is, he also used the opportunity to cast
aspersions on your leadership. Here was what he said:
“I have never called the United Nations to guard your
[Uganda’s] security. Me, Yoweri Museveni, to say that I
have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN?
I would rather hang myself! We [in Uganda] prioritized
national security by developing a strong army;
otherwise our Uganda would be like Democratic
Republic of Congo, (DRC), South Sudan, Somalia or
Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school
children”. “It would be a vote of no confidence in our
country and citizens if we cannot guarantee our
[peoples’] security? What kind of persons would we
Sir, with all due respect, I do like to remind your
office that just around the same time the abduction
of the Chibok school girls took place, Precisely, on the
16th of April 2014, a ferry, code-named ‘MV Sewol’,
sank in South Korea, causing the death of over 280
secondary school children. The South Korean Prime
Minister Chung Hong-won, in his response to this
tragedy, resigned on the 27th of April 2014, stating
“The right thing for me to do is to take responsibility
and resign as a person in charge of the cabinet; the
cries of the families of those missing still keep me up
at night”.
Sir, my take home from this episode, can be summed up
in this simple question; can the same be said of my
country, Nigeria? As a concerned citizen, I have asked
myself, many times over, how we suddenly got to this
stage as a country? How and why our leaders have
suddenly become Professors of blood-letting? How
and why a once peaceful and prosperous country could
suddenly turn into a theatre of war and the absurd?
And more importantly, why God has decided to bless
Nigeria with Bad leadership? Your Excellency, I am
counting on you through your actions over the next few
months to give me the right answers to these
soliloquys. It is obvious that this homily would not be
complete without a mention of my take on the Boko
Haram ‘madness’. Unlike many of your critics, I will
not blame you for the mindless attacks on innocent
Nigerians by these blood sucking animals, but I do
blame you in toto for not having been able to solve this
‘riddle’ before it got to this stage.
A number of reasons have been adduced by various
commentators as responsible for the continuing
convivial environment within which these terror groups
thrive. Such reasons have included the radicalization
and internalization of the sect; others have placed it
on the door step of endemic corruption in all strata of
the Nigerian society, most notably, your government
and military institutions; others have said Boko Haram
is simply political, and it remains a creation of the
Northern elites, and that all these attacks are been
calculated to further make the Nigerian state
ungovernable for you because you are from the South.
I have even listened to prominent leaders from the
Northern part of the country, advocating for
‘amnesty’ in the ’Niger Delta way’ and ‘prisoners
swap’ for Boko Haram members and their detained
families respectively. Your Excellency, I have even
heard you during your last President chat arguing
that there is a difference between the Niger-Delta
militants and Boko Haram.
While I have no problems with all these suggestions and
quite unfortunate opinions, I do however have a
problem with your office as an institution for not been
decisive enough. For the records, please permit to
state unequivocally my position on both groups (Boko
Haram and the Niger-Delta Militants). They are both
enemies of the Nigerian state, having been previously
and currently guilty of crimes against our collective
national heritage–our resources and territory. As a
result, I see no reason why your government should
tolerate both excesses, and this explains why I will
argue that you certainly need to step up your game if
your administration intends to win the war against
terrorism. And in doing so, you must have it at the
back of your mind (as I believe you already do) that
there are sacrifices to be made, and by sacrifices, I
meant every bit of that word Sir!
Your Excellency, the following represents my simple
suggestions on how to restore back our pride as a
nation, and our security as a people. My submission in
this epistle will be two pronged; Human Security and
Military solutions. By Human security, I mean your
administration must as a matter of urgency see to the
de-radicalization of the youthful Northern population
that has suddenly become veritable tools in the hands
of these marauders. How can you achieve this sir? Set
up small scale business for as many as possible of them,
assist them with subsidies for their small and large
scale cattle rearing and farming, assist the women
with small loans through your Ministry of Women
Affairs, and you may have to set up the required
machinery to monitor these ventures so that they do
not go down the drain courtesy of the systemic
corruption, your administration has been too slow and
seemingly unwillingly to confront.
May I say at this juncture that these initiatives should
not just be domiciled in the North alone, it needs to be
replicated across the six geo-political zones to prevent
a repeat of this insurrection in other parts of the
country. After all, it has been reported that Boko
Haram spends an average of $3000 on every recruit,
if you ask me Your Excellency; you may have to
meaningfully spend more than this on every
unemployed youth in this country, if Nigeria is to ever
win this war of insurgency. Finally, and with regards
to the military solution , I will try and make my advice
as succinct as possible, and I will argue for a full
Martial law to be declared in these troubled states,
sack the governors, where inevitable, replace them
with soldiers with full powers, and give them the order
to mobilize about 50000 troops towards Sambisa forest,
use aerial means to level the entire forest, mobilize
tractors and caterpillars to clear the rubbles, close
Nigeria’s borders with all these uncooperative
neighbours, and announce to the Nigerian state that
the nation has gone to war. And lastly, liaise with the
Federal Legislature on how to make terrorism an
offence punishable by death, because, the last time I
checked, the offence is at the very maximum, only
punishable by life imprisonment. After all, murder,
where successfully proven and convincingly established
is punishable by death under our 1999 constitution.
If this is the only achievement you can record in your
remaining months in office, I am sure posterity will
always recognize you, as a man who came, who saw, and
who conquered. And if you decide not to also borrow a
cue from this way forward, the same posterity will
remember you as a president who had the opportunity
to make Nigeria a better place, but instead, made it
worse than he met it. I know some people will disagree
with these positions, they will argue that you lack the
constitutional right to do all these, but the truth is
that you know deep down within you Sir, that as the
President and Command in Chief of over 168 million
Nigerians, you certainly have the power to do more
than this. But the real question is: are you sincerely
willing to go this far Mr President?

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