ProfWills My birth was celebrated with pomp and pageantry. The event was grand in every sense of the word. My arrival was celebrated far and near, in a manner akin to a royal festival of some sort. At my christening, revered Kings, presidents, queens, respected regional, continental and world leaders converged on the beautiful city of Lagos, the land of aquatic splendor to honour me. I was told my visibly elated parents smiled from cheek to cheek as they moved round to welcome well-wishers from all walks of life who defied all odds just to be part of history. Gifts of different sizes, shapes and worth were delivered to my parents. Orators, clergies, celebrities, monarchs and men of means took turns to speak of my greatness and the role I’ve come to play to make the world a better place for humanity. Growing up, I showed signs of greatness. Nations, both within and beyond Africa had enormous confidence in me and looked up to me as the long awaited messiah. Of course, I didn’t let them down. I provided my shoulders for my brothers, close neighbours and others alike to lean on. I deployed both human and material resources to assist countries in need. South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and other nations in Africa couldn’t have have survived both internal and external strifes if I had looked the other way. I was called names like the African giant, Big brother, Head of the black race, Africa’s pride among other beautiful appellations. I did live up to expectations. History books are replete with stories of my greatness. Giant strides by my children in fields such as medicine, law, journalism, engineering, sports, banking and arts are largely responsible for why the world respected me. My son and globally acclaimed literary giant, Professor Wole Soyinka made me and the entire Black race proud when he won the coveted Nobel Prize in Literature. Several of my children recorded great feats across disciplines. Then came the era of doom, gloom and confusion! Gradually, things began to go awry when my children, spread across different parts of the country engaged and promoted anti-development practices like ethnicity, religious bigotry, corruption, indiscipline, nepotism, tribalism and dishonesty. Gradually, the falconer couldn’t hear the falconer. A few of them began to emphasize on the fault-lines inherent in me. Service was no longer for the good of all, but to self and self alone. Regrettably, I watched rather helplessly, as my children killed, maimed and destroyed themselves through coups and counter coups all in the struggle for power and dominance. The situation keeps deteriorating daily, even with civilians incharge of my affairs. After several failed attempts to enthrone democracy, i succeeded in 1999. This is almost two decades since my return to democracy, regrettably the situation has gone from bad to worse. Poverty amidst wealth, leaders without vision, lack of national cohesion, endemic corruption, weak institutions, avoidable deaths, youth restiveness, ethno-religious and political crises and violent communal clashes have pinned me to the ground. Patriotism which used to be my national character has taken the back seat. My children have reduced me to a sleeping giant. I now trail behind less endowed nations in terms of good governance and economic development. I have become butt of silly jokes within and outside Africa. My children make haste to use derogatory words when talking about me. I have been reduced to a nonentity. Serious nations now deride and avoid me like a plague. Sometimes last year one of my aggrieved sons called me a zoo! A foreigner said I was fantastically corrupt! The latest bashing came only last week when a piglike character called me a shithole! I now bleed from injuries inflicted on me by my children. Killings have become so rampant across the land. People now spill blood, mutilate their brothers and kill each other without bathing an eyelid. Amidst all these troubles, my older children have become clueless on what to do. My hope lies not in my older children. They have failed me. Where are my younger children? Where are the youths? You are my hope, strength and future. You must rise in my defense. Resist the temptation to take up arms against each other. Refuse to be used as thugs, assassins and social media attack dogs in the days and months ahead. Take charge of my affairs. I shall rise again. I am Nigeria, neither a zoo nor shithole.
It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time. How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate! I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series,and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement. There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation. Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalize what were so obviously discernible as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination. Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram! We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!
President Buhari may disapprove, but there is a dire need to restructure the federation
DELE MOMODU WRITES ANOTHER OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI
*’THOSE POLITICIANS ASKING YOU TO RUN AGAIN ARE DOING SO FOR SELFISH INTERESTS’
‘…Kindly permit me to be as brutally frank as possible. As a stakeholder who made his modest contribution to your emergence as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I owe you nothing but the truth. I was not a member of your party when I volunteered to support your mission and ambition in 2015. I was elated when Nigerians succeeded in chasing away the profligate and reckless government of the PDP, led by President Goodluck Jonathan. I was one of those who unleashed terror on that government and I subsequently presented you with a compilation of my articles in which I criticised and advised the then President, free of charge. I never expected that our situation could ever get worse under the APC government that almost literally promised heaven and earth. But it has become evident that it is easier to govern by words of mouth than by force of action.
It is indeed shameful that those like me who supported you so vociferously have become butts of jokes everywhere we go. Sir, I plead with you to ignore your acolytes who may be telling you that all is well in Nigeria. My unequivocal verdict, without any fear of contradiction is that things are VERY BAD. While I will not, in all honesty, totally heap the blame on you, there is no doubt that your government has been LESS THAN COMPETENT. I’m reasonably convinced that you have not availed yourself of the abundant talents it has so pleased God to endow Nigeria with. Rather, you’ve chosen to saddle yourself with hungry lions and deadwoods that you’ve resurrected from penury and oblivion. Leadership should be about managing people and resources. Most of the people you are working with are already retired or tired and with little or nothing new to contribute.
It is grossly unfair that it was very convenient for us to lampoon and scandalise Dr Goodluck Jonathan, yet most of us have remained funereally silent and unreasonably complicit in the evil that the current men of power are perpetrating and perpetuating under your watch. Unknown to you Sir, SOME PEOPLE ARE MERELY USING YOU TO RULE BY PROXY. There is no evidence of discipline in your team, one of the greatest things you preached so fervently about in your first coming as military Head of State. Your acolytes are virtually getting away with murder. Someone, somewhere, sat down with birds of the same feathers, to conjure and compile the most disgraceful list of political appointees ever and yet nothing has happened to those who brought such perfidious insults on our nation. Instead, we are being regaled with tales by the moonlight to gloss over serious maladies in the polity and damning treachery against our nation. No serious apologies. No penitence. Only some foolhardy cockiness from those who will repeat the same nonsense when tomorrow comes.
Your Excellency, it has become very difficult, if not impossible to defend the excessive shortcomings of your government, please, permit my oxymoron Sir. We definitely want you to succeed but it seems some demons are desperately determined to make you fail by all means. The more your administration unravels, the more ridiculously hopeless it seems. You have waltzed from crisis to crisis instead of from glory to glory, as most of us expected. We thought you truly possessed the magic wand and talismanic effect to make all our problems evaporate and vamoose in a jiffy. We did not expect to be regularly mesmerised by IMPOTENT EXCUSES GALORE.
I sincerely doff my hat to your wonderful wife for her rare and uncommon courage. Regardless of what her detractors may say, she is the only insider who has been trying to say it as it is. Even if some of her critics feel she’s seeking for relevance in your kingdom, it is still within her rights. I’m sure that when the day of reckoning comes, you will remember and appreciate her timely warnings. Without mincing words, what Madam Aisha Buhari has been trying to tell you in clear terms is that this government is swimming in a big foul mess and that you should not be carried away by the FAKE ADULATION and FALSE ADORATION you see all around you. There is no government in Nigeria that did not enjoy the services of praise-singers who disappeared as soon as the government itself collapsed like a pack of cards. Ask President Jonathan!
I’m aware that your foot-soldiers are already warming up for the next election. I really do not know what they hope to tell and sell to the electorate this time, particularly after THE COLOSSAL FAILURE of the last three years. I do not see how they expect to fund your campaign without resorting to the same type of extravagant jamboree we witnessed in the dying and last days of the PDP’s prodigality. As a result of your decision to contest again, you are being forced by circumstances beyond your control to compromise and capitulate on your known principles. Is it not better, and more profitable, to return home, triumphantly, with your reputation intact than to win a pyrrhic victory with everything you ever stood for wasted on the altar of vainglorious aggrandisement? What guarantees do you have that you will win the next election even if you agree to sell Nigeria to the political gladiators?
Sir, I’m pleading with you in the name of God, the Merciful and all-powerful, that you don’t need two terms, or eight years in power, to prove your greatness. Nelson Mandela spent only one term in power and retired to superlative glory as the world’s most respected and revered and idolised statesman. Robert Mugabe spent about four decades in power, yet he returned home in total infamy and unenviable disgrace. It is a lesson of life that we must all learn, sooner rather than later, that man shall not live by power alone. I know my preaching is not likely to touch you and your hardened supporters but, at the very least, I want it to be on record that I spoke publicly, out of genuine love and concern, while you were being goaded on by those who stand to gain more if you win a re-election next year. For most of those asking you to continue, by fire and by force, it is always about THEIR PERSONAL AGENDA AND SURVIVAL. They know their political careers would come to a shuddering halt and abrupt standstill should you fail in your bid to come back. In their DESPERATION to come back at all costs, they are going to do exactly what PDP did, or even much worse. What moral authority would you then have to justify the continued detention and harassment of some of the PDP operatives accused of wasting government resources on Jonathan’s truncated re-election bid? Who amongst us can in good conscience say in the market place that you won the last election on pure merit and that no substantial government funding went into your campaigns?
This year promises to be an interesting one. You will soon discover how treacherous human beings can be when some of those hailing you today as the authentic messiah begin to show you their true colours. Our country is bleeding dangerously while some over-pampered politicians can only think of winning elections by hook or by crook. The quality of your appointees in recent time points to how DIRECTIONLESS your government has finally become. In a country overflowing with so many amazing brains and talents, it is incredibly shameful that those are your best representatives for our country. The easiest way for a leader to fail is to continue to attract those much worse than himself. Conversely, the best way to succeed is for a leader to recognise and attract and surround himself with those much better in all aspects of human endeavour. This does not erase or take anything away from the leader but it actually enhances his personality and how he is perceived by everyone. The late sage of blessed memory, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a veritable example of how a leader can effectively tap into the collective brains of some geniuses and add to his own in a way that makes him appear super-human.
Nigeria has never been in short supply of whiz kids at home and abroad but Nigeria started dying when our leaders stopped respecting merit and preferred to enthrone mediocrity. The truth is mediocrity begets further mediocrity. The few good leaders in your government have not been able to display their wizardry out of fear and trepidation that some cabal would mark them out and hack them down so ruthlessly. It is a sign of the times, that the courage, astuteness and brilliance that made them stand out in the political crowd has suddenly taken flight and they are now little more than wimps in your insipid government. The bureaucracy in Abuja is enough to suffocate and disorientate any fertile mind.
If I were in your shoes, I would consider that it is not too late to groom and propel some of the best brains in APC or even those living beyond the shores of Nigeria to succeed me. You do not need to look far in this regard but I will not make any suggestions today, lest it be misinterpreted that I am touting any particular individual as a worthy successor. I’m reasonably convinced that you have worked very hard and seem to have reached your peak. To God be the glory. In a country of nearly 200 million people, God has been too kind to you. Apart from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no other Nigerian has been given a second chance so miraculously. You will be able to justify this unmerited favour by leaving Nigeria much better than you met it. The only way you can do that in the next remaining year is to SACRIFICE YOUR OWN PERSONAL AMBITION and hand over the country to proven and tested modern and cosmopolitan technocrats. The world has moved beyond the backwardness that we are being saddled with in Nigeria today. The world expect us to be the true giant and leader of Africa not by words but in deed.
My appeal to you is to urgently do a self-assessment to determine and decide on whether you are what Nigeria needs at this time and age for our country to join the comity of other nations in their march towards technological advancement, political stability, social security and economic prosperity.
With all due respect, Sir, if your answer is yes to the above, you may go ahead and contest but if in all honesty, the answer is no, my prayer is that you will find the courage and selfless spirit to quit the stage while the ovation is loudest. That in itself would be a deserving legacy. I’m watching and waiting for your patriotic decision with bated breath.
Thank you, Mr President, for your usual attention and kind consideration of my latest memo to you, albeit so early in the year.’
Culled from Thisday Backpage