Dear Mr. President, We’ve Had Enough Of This ‘Fresh Air’. [An Open Letter] By Nkannebe Raymond
“Turning and turning in this widening gyre;
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the land.
The blood doomed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”– W.B. YEATS
Your Excellency, I’ve at many times nursed the ambition to pen you this missive. Of particular mention, was during the twilight of last year when open letters littered all sections of the media, both print and electronic. But it appeared that any time I pick up my ink to write, somewhere out of the blue, a voice from within tells me to give you another benefit of doubt, that everything will soon be fine and so I have all these while taken a chill to see if common sense will drown the lust of power which many have attributed to your continuous grip or hold onto the seat of power. Let me categorically say that I share in their single story of you, irrespective of how incomplete they may be.
Dear sir, at different foras, I’ve had the difficult task to speak to the people in my immediate environment of how well you mean for this country, I have times without number engaged my friends in the uncensored social media, my room mates, my colleagues in the so-called prestigious faculty of Law, University of Maiduguri and indeed all my other acquaintances of how well your government through the Transformation Agenda mean for this country, but it appears that I’m left with little or no shield, it appears I’m boxed up in a corner whenever they confront me with the question- “What manner of president is that who superintends over the killing of the same people who gave him the mandate to rule over them?”
Sir, I must tell you that whenever such questions is put to me, I lack every word to reply them at least in a manner that will not be adverse to the sensibilities of the families of the bereaved since I am not oblivious of the sanctity of the human life. Many people that I have engaged in these streets, have told me that you, yes you are the one either directly or indirectly pulling the strings of this wave of terrorism that every other day puts a knife in the artificial lattice that we are binded and driving the ship of state closer to the colossal ice-berg. Some have said that it is an organized crusade to reduce the Arewa population for your parochial interests; some too have come up to tell me that it is in a bid to electorally disenfranchise the peoples of the Northeast for political gains, members of the Borno State Elders Forum have at different times told stories of how military helicopters were seen, supplying arms to the insurgents in their camps and hideouts, I may go on and on to rehash such hypothetical statements here as they are endless.
Now, I know that some, if not all of the foregoing may appear rather base and banal on the surface, what you like to refer to as “beer parlor gossips” but when looked at with a number of circumstantial acts, a prudent man will act on the supposition that something is really fishy, that something doesn’t add up, that there is more to this all than meets the eye. Some of those circumstantial acts include; the withdrawal of troops at Buni Yadi, Yobe State shortly before the fundamentalists came ransacking the benign educational facility, the several hours sacking of villages only for the JTF to appear after the milk has been spilt, the withdrawal of troops at the Bama Barracks before the insurgents came calling carting away the arms and ammunitions in the armory and so many of such occurrences which page constraints won’t allow me state here. Sir, let me unequivocally say that it is happenings of such that exude a conspiracy of silence in their wake, that has left me bewildered so much that I cannot hold briefs for you again nor act as your McKenzie friend anymore, as their offences far surpasses my defenses.
The foregoing notwithstanding, I know that you are a good man and indeed you will agree with me that Nigerians know that you were/are a good man at least not until recently. Testimonies that you are a good man needs not be overestimated considering how much we stood behind you at the dawn of the 2011 Presidential elections and gave you all the needed votes to return you to Aso Rock just for one reason: we are a people whom from time immemorial have been robbed of Fresh Air and you were the first and indeed only man coming into the picture with assurances or promises of the metaphorical Fresh Air- it was all that was needed to cart away our votes thanks to the ingenuity of your campaign team.
And as though drunk by opium, we came rushing at your back. Some of us who were at then already fatigued by the PDP ship, had to shelve our grievances with the party since some said that you were God-sent and with God in the picture we mended fences with the rudderless umbrella of the PDP and gave you that chance. I remember that the phrase, “I’m voting for Goodluck and not PDP” became a very popular one in this clime and I’m quite sure you do remember too.
Oh! How we wish we knew what we were going in for? How we wish we knew that the bride we trooped en masse to bring back home will one day “kill” the offspring borne off her and leave her in-laws embarrassed. How we wish we knew that with our own hands, we were signing our potential death warrants. Indeed like my people will say “Echi d’ime” which loosely translates as Tomorrow is Pregnant, who knows what it will bore? We never knew the soup will soon go sour.
Dear sir, with no offence intended, that is exactly what we got with you. The “Goodluck” in your name is the greatest irony ever told and the “Patience” in your wife’s name compounds our woes. How much more patient can we be? Should we continue to be patient until we bury all our loved ones? Or should we continue to be patient until this polarization of regions under your watch sends us on the way to Kigali? No, we cannot and like the Biblical Jonah, you must leave this ship of state else we throw you into the belle of the Boko Haram whale.
Like I said before, I understand how well you mean for this union. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of this country since the dawn of this administration, and I have at different times confirmed some of the strides of your Transformation Agenda especially on the roads on which I travelled. I am not oblivious of your strides in the areas of Transportation, Agriculture, Aviation, Power et cetera. I watched with glee the making of history and the fulfillment of promise in the flag off of the 2nd Niger Bridge. I am also aware of the many jobs your government has created to ameliorate the hardship of our youth population through programs like YouWIN and the SURE-P intervention programme inter alia. The educational sector under your watch is not left unattended to, even though ASUP strike continues to drag on. I share in your elation that Nigeria under your guide has become the best Economy in Africa through the recent rebasing of our GDP. Sir, I can go on and on and on, but the sad truth is that all of these, is all too soon forgotten when security is in tatters.
I cannot travel on good roads only to be slaughtered before reaching my destination by people whom the media has christened “Unknown Gunmen” nor can I relish the joy of a vibrant economy that has only favored the elites among us in this ‘Dangotetrized’ economy made possible under your watch ,or of what need is a sound economy when our lives have been reduced to those of ravens? What am I trying to say? However well you mean for this country, without Nigerians sleeping with two eyes closed, they will all amount to nothing. It is better that we do not feed well than for us to feed well and be slaughtered like rams on Sallah Day or chickens on the eve or dawn of Christmas- Sir, that all these is happening under your watch, is your greatest undoing and the only thing I deem reasonable and rational for you to do is to bow out as from all indications, you cannot stand the heat of this kitchen.
The drafters of our constitution were no fools when they said in section 14(2) b that the “Security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of any government” and under your watch that portion of our grundnorm has suffered a natural death from lack of enforcement. While I know it may not be your express desire that the people you swore under oath to protect have continued to be savaged by people I prefer to call “uncircumcised philistines” but how do you expect the parents of those students at Buni Yadi or the loved ones of all those students at College of Agriculture, Mamudo and those of the 210 Jambites whose only sin was their quest for education in a clime where ignorance continues to prove more than costly, or how do you expect the friends and families of all those who died at the Nyanya Bomb blast this morning as I write this piece to be appeased by your monotonous condolences? You see, that is where the problem lies. Their only opinion of you is that you are a blood sucker, no more, no less. Not even your crocodile tears will stop them from ever thinking so, nor the largesse that I’m sure will be handed to them.
Sir, the bulk stops right at your table and the least you can do is to disclaim complicity and if you do, be sure you’ll be talking for the birds. It is either we are safe and the safety of our properties guaranteed under your watch or you vacate the seat of power as the only logical explanation of this wave of terrorism that has brought us to this quicksand is that you are not the best man for the plum job-how you do it, is not, and cannot be our problem as ordinary Nigerians denied of the least peace.
Sir, I can go on and on, but I must draw the curtain for this particular piece here but not without handing out an advise which I’m certain the sycophants called aides and advisers will never give to you as they want to keep their jobs and it is one which I do not seek for any remuneration in return as I consider it one of my civic duty as a patriotic citizen-it is written all over your face and from your ‘Body Language’ that you are going to throw your fedora hat into the ring of the 2015 elections—please, do not. As a matter of necessity, issue a press conference and make it clear that you will not be on your marks with the other contenders who have profited from this atmosphere of rancor. I know it may be cowardly and all that, but as it stands, it will be your greatest service to this country if truly you love her.
You are a good man, and what I know you don’t want, judging from your demeanor is to see this nation you profess much love to, fall off the edge of the precipice which it has clung onto lately and the only way to do that, is to make that decisive decision and walk it. While you can live with the former-bowing out of the 2015 race, you cannot live with the latter and the only way to avoid the potential trauma is to make hay while your sun still shines or risk eating yourself up when the proverbial head is cut off.
I cannot say further at least for now, but only seek that you be guided by the best of counsels in your decisions. It is not every time that he who runs lives to fight another day. Sometimes, cowardice is another form of bravery when juxtaposed with the reason behind the decision. In your case, you’ve got but two options to wit: wither to take a heroic bow and see that the people you so much acclaim to love live forever in peace, or hold on to power as though drunk by its wine, and watch the lives of the citizenry so nasty, brutish and short. Any day, I’ll go for the former option and indeed any right thinking person would do so. It is not cowardice as they may say; it is borne out of love for Motherland and posterity will never forget in her books anyone who exercises the former option given the same circumstance. As it stands right now, the ball is in your court, and the eyes of the world are watching, how you play is a whole different thing entirely. But believe me; we have had enough of this ‘Fresh Air’ as it has blown us more bad than the good it has blown us.
Accept my warmest regards in this toughest moment of our National Voyage.
The writer is a Law Student in the University of Maiduguri. He shares his time in between reading and writing and believes in the dream of New Nigeria. He shares some of his thoughts on twitter as @RayNkah. Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com
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