Letter to President Jonathan, By Al-Mustapha
Your Excellency, I bring you good tidings. I want to thank you for this generous gesture of yours which has made it possible for me to breathe the air of freedom again, and to reunite with my family, especially my wife Hafsat, who had dwelt in her own prison throughout my incarceration.
I decided to write you this letter the very first day I learnt that you had made up your mind to set me free. That was weeks before my eventual release. I know some of my words will sound unpalatable; but I am a soldier in whose squadron flattery is hardly a virtue. Obviously, this freedom makes me happy indeed but your motive, at least the perceived it, tore my heart to shreds. I heard it is all about 2015, and not that I was unfairly incarcerated or that a court of competent jurisdiction had acquitted me. However, I maintain even now that I am innocent of the crimes I was accused of and condemned to death for. I am not the only one to rise from the dead. Your wife, Patience, also died and returned, remember?
I am scandalized by the political undertone in the broth of my freedom. I was once the most powerful military officer in this country but now, from what I gather, you have reduced me to a pawn on the chessboard of politics? In the past, generals paid me compliments; but time changes everything.
Mr President Sir, please permit me to call you by your pet-name Jona. I understand that everything you do these days has 2015 imprimatur, but bringing me into the realms of politics is not a wise idea.
Let me refresh your memory a little, if you would let me. I was incarcerated in connection with the murder of Mrs Kudirat Abiola. Of course just as your popular picture as politician who is respected among his neighbours in Otuoke sticks on you like glue, my reputation as a daredevil and fearless intelligence officer precedes me. My creation, the Strike Force, is the deadliest Abuja, has ever known. Oh, I am so proud of its accomplishments. Strike Force made a snake in a garden shudder in fear during our time. Some even said that we had a crocodile pond into which we threw uncooperative people, usually NADECO members or stubborn journalists. But I can assure you no one has pointed out the pond since we left power.
You see, I do not know how many books you have read Jona; but I have even memorised the Holy Qur’an. As a Muslim, it fortified my belief that in spite of the desire of those who wanted me dead, I would be free; may be not as quickly as I was discharged and acquitted but obviously anytime soon.
Why did you release me Jona? Almost all of those who learnt of my release that fateful Friday morning hung my freedom on 2015. They say you are obsessed with it and that you would unchain the devil himself to realize your goal. But I am what the Americans call a goon, you know? I know nothing but soldiering. Forget my grandstanding at the Oputa Panel. It was military strategy. I knew in my military wisdom that a million SANs would not free me if I did not take my destiny in my own hands, with facts and warts. Lawless people don’t change overnight. Without any prejudice to the lawyers in this country, Jona, I can say without fear of contradiction that my tactics hit a chord, with and I believe that is why I am here. But mark you Jona, I Al Mustapha, have no political value in my region, the north, which you are trying to reach out to but which you have also offended in no small measure.
Northerners will hardy forget how you ignored the Boko Haram insurgency until it got out of hand. Unofficial sources claim that close to 800,000 people, most of them northerners, lost their lives and property worth billions destroyed by the insurgents. The insurgency has resulted in northerners losing their positions in the armed forces; mediocrity now reigns. To me as a former Chief Security Officer, your initial inaction depicted a total loss of control. You were a lame duck, even in your first term. So what’s all this elaborate orchestration for 2015?
But don’t mind my position, Jona. Time on death row has taken the winds off my brains. Never mind Yerima Ngama, your minister of state for finance, who told people that my sharp reasoning still amazes him. Ngama is not a psychiatrist. He probably never paid any attention to my behaviour while I marked time in Kirikiri. I had been confused. Sometimes, I greeted people with a clenched fist; while some other times, I smiled, like General Gowon does. At other times, I saluted in military fashion. You would have noticed too, Jona, that my choices since coming out are dangerously flawed. I greeted everyone in sight: TB Joshua, Fashehun, Otokoto, Ganiyu Adams and Tokyo, to mention a few of them. I make no distinction between the living and the dead, just like I have not adjusted to life outside prison. I even sought Abiola out only to learn that he is deceased. In that miasma, I paid first homage to the Kano Sate Government instead of my people in Yobe. It would have served me just as well if I had driven straight to Gashua and shook hands with Shekau!
Mr President, I am saying all these because personally I know that where the north is concerned, I am a political paper tiger. Like Larry Hagman of the famous soap Dallas, I am the man that people love to hate. I lack the political value you ascribe to me, and if you released me to score a political point in my region, you have only taken a fool’s gambit. But I’m sorry; I can’t help your 2015 dream.
Yours faithfully, Al-Mustapha.
Bello-Barkindo, author of this imaginary letter, wrote from Abuja
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