Dear President Jonathan: With Love, From My Memory, By Jonah Ayodele Obajeun
Before I get drenched in the soberness and excitement that will herald the transition of Nigeria from a seemingly hopeless situation back to the track of optimism, I want to quickly drop goodbye lines for you as you journey through the thorny path of ‘end’. Having waited for so long, the ‘end’ indeed, has come. To be sincere, I have longed for this ‘end’ and I am excited that this expected ‘end’ is here with us, with me alive. Indeed, no man rules forever on the throne of time. Thank you President Jonathan for making this a success, for in your time, Nigeria finally made it to the bottom of hell.
But then, let’s get some hard lines from our sorry past. I am sorry President Jonathan, I have not moved beyond my memory.
Before I took it upon myself to walk the streets to seek your personal defeat, before I fortified my thumb to be so vicious on the ballot paper in a grand resolve to see to the end of nonsense we have come to adopt as ‘governance’, before I ran errand on behalf of my anger to lead campaigns against your coming back, before I worked out to Fela Shrine and assemble some Fela’s disciples to make personal commitment to running political narratives against you, before I jumped from one bus to another to raise my voice in support of the demolition of the status quo of regression, before I dedicated my thoughts to gather words that express my inner feelings against your men, before I took a risk to run my ‘rants’ for change, before I took to the ever busy Mokola bridge through to the DSS office in Ibadan to protest an unjustified abduction of a free citizen, before I took up the gauntlet to hold brief for the dead in the public court, before I sacrificed pennies to run unsolicited advertorials against your second coming, I have taken stock of the expectations that embodied your emergence in 2011 as the substantive president of Nigeria and the posture of nonchalance you threw at your critics as you threaded on the path of tumultuous ruins.
Your defeat didn’t come to me as a surprise. I sweated for it. I burnt midnight candle and I made it a part of my success story in life. As you may know, you have been an adversary to my very personal existence. The very disrespect you sprinkled on my face informed my very personal passion to cross to the other side of the divide and watch you wallow in your own ignorance. You disrespected me by calling me a child of anger, an idle mind and an unemployed chatterer. You called me an opinion extremist for holding brief for the dead in public court, the same dead you mocked by your farce soberness. While I want to question the logic behind your call, I also want to first agree. I will take few lines from Martin Luther King’s reply from Birmingham’s jail to the clergymen of the city, when he was equally accused as an extremist.
“Was not Jesus an extremist in love – ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice – ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist of the gospel of Jesus Christ – ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Was not John Bunyan an extremist – ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ So the question is not whether we will be extremist but kind of extremist we will be.”
You called me an extremist when I questioned you on terrorism. In addition, you said I should wait till terrorism fizzled out. The word ‘fizzle’ rings in the ears of the relatives of Madalla bombing in 2013 with piercing familiarity. This ‘fizzle’ has always meant ‘nothing’, sometimes the word relieved me of emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-informed infant of frustration. When your first name becomes ‘chatterer’ and your middle name becomes ‘child of anger’. When you are harried by day in a frustrating struggle for PMS. When you are haunted at night while asleep, but with liquid fury all over your body in form of sweat. When you are plagued with inner fears and outer resentment while you are fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ as blast goes on unchecked around you, then you will understand why I find it so difficult to understand the word ‘fizzle’. The time came for me when the cup of endurance ran over and I was no longer ready to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where I would experience the blackness of corroding despair. The signs remained, I was confronted with blasted hope and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon me. So I had no alternative except that of leading movements against injustice – an act you described as an extremist act. If this is what your definition of ‘extremism’ is, then something may be wrong with your word bank, just as I noticed in your understanding of ‘corruption’.
President Jonathan, in case you were not told, killings by Boko Haram were estimated at around 350 persons in 2011. In case you were not told, killings by the same insurgent were estimated at about 250 in 2012 and estimated at about 400 in 2013. I am sure you were aware that killings were estimated at about 1,100 in 2014. An estimated 2000 persons were unaccounted for in Baga in January 2015. Sadly the controversy surrounding the number of casualties in Baga mega-massacre remains till date. This was what characterized your foray in the past 6 years. If you didn’t get to start an impacting endeavor (often the case), you would roll out a plan for a killer effort that you would never finish. For five years, you never deemed it fit to counter Boko Haram, but in 2012 you deemed it perfect to send soldiers after me at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park. For me, it was a long walk to tear-gas. What you killed 16 of my fellow compatriots for during the movement in 2012, in 2015 just before the elections, you gave a part of it to us as a reason to return you into office. What an insult! This in itself was a big slap to the dead. May their blood keep hunting you into errors.
You have bequeathed to us a rooted culture of corruption. Given your personal understanding of what corruption is and the leadership tone you used in setting the agenda for your administration, I was not taken aback that you were ranked 143rd out of 183 most corrupt president in the world in 2011. In 2012, you were ranked 139th, in 2013 you were well positioned at number 144. You made corruption your best ally, eating from the same plate, drinking from the same cup. While we were crying foul, you were gallivanting the streets along with corruption beside you. You made corruption your work-out mate, rolling in the gym while laughing at our grief. You willingly appointed corruption as your boss and pardoned all the known corruptible termites of our treasury. At some point, you and corruption became synonymous, like a Siamese twin bonded by blood veins and living intestines. You partied with corruption and caressed corruption like your second wife after Mama Peace. It was and still, an unexplained romance. How a man so in need of shoes now struggles to find his fit and decides to pack all the oversize shoes with him, remains a mystery left for human psychologists to unravel.
In the annals of our backwardness, you remain the grand waster of our collective human and economic structures. You wasted our God-given resources. You waste our talents and prodigious human endowments. President Jonathan, you waste our tomorrow at the altar of our wasted yesterday. You wasted the future of our children at the shrine of your today’s purposelessness. You wasted us with savage resolve. You wasted a gifted nation even as you waste the destiny of the Black race. So the nation has overtime, turned to a collection of bloody waste. Any child born into this and fed on its gory rites must certainly turn out a blood-sucking Dracula. Nigeria’s external reserve declined to $36.959 as of May 2014, the lowest in history. On yearly basis since 2011, our reserve has declined by approximately 16% consistently with nothing so convincing. With the support of your partners, you ‘dollarised’ the economy with malicious intent, killing our currency in the process. You have squandered all we had on elections. In the end, you lost your dignity of respect and defeated your own heroism that heralded your conceding defeat.
Just before closing, I need to quickly remind you of a killer memory that will stay with us forever. We started with you on the streets; the game is also ending with you on the streets. In essence, then, it was fuel subsidy fight, now it is fuel scarcity fight. You have stagnated governance. Our hustles at fuel stations send no message to you. Our welfare makes no sense to you anymore. You have left us at the mercy of our struggles, at the mercy of our anger, at the mercy of your nonchalance. Your deceptive look is a threat to us. Unfortunately, we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny of survival. Unfortunately too, you have left us in this cobweb of mutuality to wallow in the emptiness of the treasury you are bequeathing back to us. This is the most unfair thing to do to us, no matter what our sins were. That was the only thing we could do, to vote you out, to present our very thumbs as means of laying our case before the conscience of our nation.
To this end President Jonathan, I am here to offer my last respect in form of the below lines on behalf of the unreturned girls:
Farewell of death
Cloudburst in the dawn
Raging glows of fireworks
Scented with blood
Girls brewed, moan-fully, in confines
Pageantry of rape
‘Pissing’ by the roadside with salute – my last respect for the President
Jonah Ayodele Obajeun blogs @www.obajeun.com. He can be reached on twitter via @Obajeun
NB: Stanza above is a modified part of a poem titled ‘Last Respect’, originally published by WriteHouse Collective in a ChapBook.