My Trillion Naira Letter to President Jonathan By Dele Momodu
Your Excellency, I’m compelled to write you again today since I don’t have any other form of access to deliver this to you. I’m also not sure you read the other open letters I have written to you, especially ‘My Kobo Advise to Mr President’. If you did I hope that you digested the content and pondered on them as I expected you would. My doubts are due to your continued actions.
You must be wondering why I have chosen the present title. The reason is not far-fetched. Since my Kobo advice seems not to have resonated with you and your aides, and our budgets are now quoted in trillions, this title is ostensibly symbolic and truly emblematic of our latest craze and propensity for mentioning figures that most calculators won’t be able to evaluate.
The decision to write this latest epistle was reached after watching the bizarre movie that was acted by your fellow party men and produced by very senior directors of your seemingly formidable political organisation. Let me confess that no scriptwriter would have visualised such melodrama on any regular day. If anyone had ever suggested that such a humiliating scenario would occur we would have dismissed it as a product of a cruel imagination or lunacy. But we saw this one before our very eyes and became stupefied to say the least.
Let me assure you, Sir that it is in the nature of politics and politicians for such brickbats to occur. We must thank God for little mercies because we are lucky in these parts that citizens don’t pelt their leaders with rotten eggs and juicy tomatoes. You would remember that someone once threw shoes, javelin-like, at President George Bush during a Press conference and his face could have been badly bruised and readily bloodied but for the fact that his reflexes were superbly efficient and automatically responsive.
It is for this reason that I wish you can put the matter behind you as quickly as possible and forgive even if you cannot forget. It is sad that you apparently did not envisage the tragedy that was going to befall your party and tear your members asunder. Those of us on the side-lines knew it was a matter of time before the implosion would ignite and ricochet across the land like an Iraqi bomb. The collapse of a party that had held Nigeria by the jugular for the past 14 years was destined to carry some collateral damage with it.
If you and your aides were politically savvy, you probably would have managed the situation better. And if the truth must be told, most of strategists you parade are nothing but tyros who know little or nothing about the complexities that make up Nigeria. They sit in their gilded cage of Aso Rock and forget you are inhabitants of the place today through the sheer trickery of providence and convoluted collaboration of godfathers.
If your kitchen cabinet understood the rudiments of politics, they would have hopefully averted this monumental disaster by avoiding a war they were bound to lose before it even started. They allowed you to be messed up and tossed around due to their gross incompetence and pomposity. Your rabid supporters are behaving like the peacock or to be more precise like the soldiers of fortune that most political jobbers are often are in Nigeria. Pity is they still can see the handwriting on the wall nor decipher the code of grand conspiracy that is so palpable. They are gloating all over the place and deluding themselves about the power of life and death which you wield as the Nigerian President. But a power misused is a power wasted. Reality is not all wars are won through the use of force or violence.
I will now go ahead to highlight some of the terminal mistakes made by your embattled camp and juxtapose with what I consider to be the practical solutions to these humongous problems. Whether we like former President Olusegun Obasanjo or not he’s a man who truly believes in the unity of Nigeria. I cannot but be very charitable to him on this occasion. As a man who played a crucial role during the Nigerian civil war, I believe this has made him permanently paranoid and terminally neurotic about the likelihood of Nigeria ever breaking up in his lifetime or even thereafter. Obasanjo was therefore the one man God used to make it possible for an Ijawman to ultimately become the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
It is no longer relevant or important to us if Obasanjo did what he did genuinely out of love for the so-called minorities to have a chance or for very personal and selfish reasons. Even if his decision to install as President and Vice President a sickly Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and a taciturn Dr Goodluck Jonathan is turning dangerously pyrrhic, credit must still go to Baba Iyabo that he fulfilled all righteousness by handing power to you through the backdoor, thus empowering you to grab the chicken that lays the golden eggs that we all savour today. The essence of this unusual but objective hagiography on Obasanjo today is that you should have done everything humanly possible to tolerate and accommodate his human foibles and overt idiosyncrasies.
The costliest mistake you ever made was to have allowed your relationship with a veteran of many wars to degenerate to the level fisticuffs or what the Yoruba call ‘roforofo’. It is a battle you can’t afford to fight because you have no chance of winning it at the end of the day. Please try and tell those illusionists who typically swarm around the corridors of power like locusts that if they have forgotten how God brought you to the pinnacle of the temple, your memory and gratitude are intact. And that you will never encourage Lucifer to send you on a kamikaze dive.
The second mistake was the manner your acolytes exposed your second term bid prematurely. It was totally unnecessary. As an African, you must be aware of the adage that a wise man always keeps the name of his impending baby to himself until after his wife delivers. The manner they’ve been threatening hellfire and brimstone if you don’t secure a second term has been very rude, crude and outlandishly provocative. No Jupiter can stop you from running if you so desire and eventually decide to try your luck again. It is true that you promised to serve only one term but it is still entirely your privilege and prerogative to change your mind. That can’t be a crime because we all do it most of the time. It is also your Constitutional right and you should not have been lured into dissipating some badly-needed energy on useless rigmarole and semantics.
Sir, if I were you I would have concentrated rigidly and passionately on delivering the dividends of democracy by making life better for the generality of Nigerians. Your greatest armour against real and imagined enemies is performance. If you can make conscious effort to curb the wasteful ostentation and the obsession for pomp and pageantry ascribed to your office I’m certain even your vociferous critics would become your assiduous fanatics. What you have advertently done by abandoning governance on the altar of pecuniary politics is to allow your common enemies to gang-up and have enough time to mobilise their war-chest, assemble their arsenal and fire their long-range missiles.
The third mistake is the commonest in all wars known to mankind. You opened up your flanks by fighting too many people on too many fronts. Only a poor General does that. In the haste to crush the rebellion of some of your former foot-soldiers as well as your implacable enemies, you got sucked in because you were stupendously engaged in too many directions. This was bound to take its toll on you and your combatants. Coupled with that was the obvious fact that you underrated your opponents. That is usually a regrettable strategy in guerrilla warfare.
It should have been clear to you that you had to employ a new, even if temporary, modus operandi once the Governors loyal to you were soundly and roundly beaten by the Amaechi supporters. If I were you Sir, I would have made a tactical withdrawal by sticking to the lie that I knew nothing about the Nigeria Governors Forum crisis and maintain my straight poker face. I would have reassessed the efficacy of those who sold the dummy that all was well but could not deliver the goods after fallen jejunely for the scam of collecting some fake signatures. What I expected you to do was to accept the temporary defeat with equanimity and invite Rotimi Amaechi into a room and embrace him warts and all. You seemed to have done this at Port Harcourt Airport and expected you build on that window of opportunity. I was one of those who saluted your statesmanship on that occasion but was sorely disappointed when you allowed the opportunists to send you back to the trenches.
I still don’t know who subsequently persuaded you to fall for the self-immolating decision to continue to recognise the Jang faction when it was obvious the man lost the election fair and square. That was the moment you lost all moral authority and rights by allowing some political adventurers to drag you down the depths of their abject pettiness. You should have borrowed a leaf from Obasanjo’s experience with the once powerful Atiku Abubakar who controlled the Governors and practically brought the former President on his knees begging for support. As a veteran soldier, Obasanjo was sufficiently trained in the art and science of tactical retreat. The crafty General knows that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.
The example of Obasanjo’s strategic cowardice was very instructive and opulently didactic. As he told everyone who cared to listen: what Atiku did was tantamount to pulling out a loaded gun and pointing it at his head. He knew it was no use arguing with a man who could pull the trigger in a mere matter of seconds. The only option left was to use the power of native intelligence and foxiness by persuading the man not to commit premeditated murder. Once Atiku made the error of pitying his supposed prey and showing mercy, he became a dead man walking himself. Same goes for James Ibori who walked into a similar trap.
Sir, though your case is slightly different it still bears some resemblance to that of Obasanjo. Your infantry men wasted all your bullets without catching an antelope not to talk of capturing elephants, the king of the forests. You should have wooed Amaechi to your side at all cost because he was apparently equal to all your own combined forces. A hunter should always be proud of a brave son. You can do with a few guys like that in the days of tribulation. It is noteworthy that Governors control their states. How do you hope to secure your second term ambition if you control less than half of the states in the country? What is more, Amaechi is capable of delivering one of the largest votes to you from Rivers State or conversely waste most of it if he decides to be vengeful.
Finally, I wish to assure you Sir that it is not an act of timidity to seek peace and tranquillity in a country where everything seems to be going haywire. Whosoever tells you to unleash terror and mayhem on your enemies is not a true friend. Elections are won as a game of figures. The candidate who is able to attract the largest number of voters becomes electable. Rigging may never work like it used to due to several developments in the world. The New Media, otherwise known as Social Media, is breaking down walls of intimidation and oppression. Telephony and the internet combined have become more lethal than most conventional weapons. At the touch of buttons, many wonders can instantly unfold and make it possible to monitor occurrences in distant places. There is also the human factor, like the case of that Kwara man who rejected the fake election that awarded him victory when he knew in his heart that he lost. Mass education is beginning to change how we do many things even if slowly.
Your best bet is to stay on the path of honour, peace, equity, justice and unimpeachable truth. God has been too kind to you. Even if you return to your village today, you have enjoyed what no one has ever attained before which is being permanently in power and high positions since coming into relevance and prominence from relative obscurity. There is nothing more to add. If you work harder on a few of the content of your Transformation Agenda, you may easily end up as a hero. Getting a second term if you stay lucky will then be icing on your national cake. You don’t need all this stress and blackmail in the name of seeking what is not necessarily glorious. I read somewhere that a man is powerful when he controls power and powerless when power controls him. The choice is yours.
Sir, permit me to conclude with a powerful Yoruba proverb: when we are praying not to be put to shame but the prayer is not instantly answered we should start praying that God should at least keep us alive.
This is my story. This is my song.
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