Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari By Japhet Philip
Without the necessity of mincing words, I am constrained to write to you at this crucial time of our nation’s history essentially to add my little voice to some of the plethora of issues that could make or mar our solemn desire for a national rebirth, our quest for peace and stability, social justice and shared prosperity. I am hopeful that this message will meet you hail and hearty. Suffice to say, that i am very appreciative of your current efforts to reposition Nigeria on the path of greatness especially in the areas of security and the anti-graft crusade for which many of us are grateful, there are however a number of concerns which to my mind if left unchecked could lead us to cul de sac, may God forbid that.
Before i engage you on the matters, let me place it on record that i strongly share your ideologies of integrity, transparency and accountability. Your strength of character, your values of perseverance, doggedness and Spartan lifestyle amongst many has endeared your personality to my heart that i see you as a role model whose virtues the Nigerian youth would do good to emulate. I was just a teenager when you held sway as a military Head of State in the early/mid 80s and your brief stay of twenty months or there about left no one in doubt that you have so much to offer for the common good. Your sterling performance at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) as its chairman under the late dark goggled General Sani Abacha which saw to the construction of many high quality roads, logistics in hospitals and which put many books in libraries in schools across Nigeria is a clear testimony of your yearning for a working Nigeria.
Since you ventured into the murky waters of Nigerian politics in 2002 to this day, I have always been your staunch supporter and mobilizer. Starting from the All Peoples Party (APP), to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), to when you resolved to leave the ANPP and formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and ultimately to the historical merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the CPC, ANPP, the new PDP (nPDP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) that gave birth to the mega All Progressives Congress (APC). The rest they say is history. In the build up to the 2015 general elections, I was one amongst many young Nigerians who went all the way to ensure that you emerged victorious at the presidential polls not because the APC was full of ‘saints’, but because we share in your aspirations of selfless service to our great nation and so we passionately went about mobilizing citizens across the length and breadth, North and south, east and west of Nigeria to vote for change and our fellow compatriots hearkened to our call. It is more on this premise that I have the audacity to write you this letter so that Nigeria can be better for it. Because I voted for change for which I have no regrets, and as a stakeholder on the Nigerian project, I am duty bound to actively contribute to the much desired change so that the ‘’BUHARIST’’ as some people will brand me, my fellow youths and millions of other Nigerians who voted for you will not be put to shame. In raising the issues even though it may sound bitter to you, I have nothing to lose and have everything to gain should this translate into better living standards for the Nigerian people. Now back to the issues for scribbling this piece.
Firstly, I have observed with great dismay the ‘’unfriendly’’ attitude towards youths and women of this great country of the present government under your leadership, the number of appointments made by your highly revered and exalted office so far suggests to me that there may be just too little for women and youths in the scheme of things. For me it’s a great source of concern and the situation needs to be redressed. Mr President, please do not allow the old guards most of whose interest is a penchant for self aggrandizement/preservation to mislead you into forgetting so soon the gigantic role women and youths played in supporting you and the APC to victory at the last general polls. Never forget that history is replete with nations who forgot their youthful populations and had to pay dearly for it. I do not wish that Nigeria follows the same path for any nation that ignores its youth does so at its own peril. To this end, i implore you Mr President to as a matter of priority reconsider mainstreaming more women and youths into your change agenda by way of giving them more opportunities to serve and to take proactive steps in formulating clear cut policies that are sensitive to their needs in the real sense of the word and not just by word of mouth. Let there be initiatives capable of creating decent jobs for the teeming population of Nigerian youths, empowering women to cater well for their families and so on and so forth. Any attempt to ignore these very important segments of our society would be a recipe for social, economic and political instability. If we want social justice for shared prosperity, we must bid goodbye to the era of ‘’Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’’. Going by our demographics, it is very clear that the Nigerian population is a youthful one; the youth represents about 35% of our productive and voting population. I am sure Mr President will not need a crystal ball seer to tell him the implications of ignoring the concerns of women and youths after all you are for ‘’Nobody and everybody’’.
Secondly, it appears to me that this government is handling the issue of herders and farmers conflict with levity. From Barikin Ladi and Riyom, Keana and Doma and Agatu in Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue states-North Central Nigeria, to Zangon Kataf and Kachia in Kaduna state-North-west Nigeria, to some parts of Ondo and Ogun states in the South west and most recently Ukpabi Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu state in the South east, thousands of human lives and properties worth billions have been lost to this conflict and the end of it invariably is not yet in sight. Mr President, this is a time bomb and government must act fast to nib this monster in the bud so we can avoid yet another Boko Haram- like experience. This cycle of violence must be broken if we are to preserve the indivisibility of the project called Nigeria. A stitch in time they say saves nine!
Thirdly, it is somewhat evident that this ship called Nigeria which you are captain at the moment has no clear cut economic policy direction, under the current economic circumstances, Nigerians are suffering and groaning, fuel scarcity is on the rampage with negative multiplier effects on cost of goods and services, there is no availability of power supply to light our homes and streets and to keep our boilers running in our very few surviving industries just to mention a few. The pains Nigerians are going through is excruciating and unspeakable and can hardly represent the change we voted for. Mr President, if anything is worthwhile, if it is excellent, if it is noble and people oriented please think and act about it and fast too. Nigeria is in dire need of a team of seasoned economists who can think outside the box and bring us out of this economic morass in which we have found ourselves. Albeit it may seem an early call to pass a verdict on your eleven (11) months old government, the suffering is increasing by the day and something drastic needs to be done, desperate times require desperate measures. Even though you have apologized to Nigerians and sought our understanding and patience, the only language the talakawas understand is food on their table and the availability of power and fuel to run around in pursuance of their legitimate business, anything less would amount to flogging a dead horse. Mr President, you have only three years left to prove your mettle and woo your detractors and nay sayers to your own side of history, time is running out, you must make hay while the sun shines for night cometh when no man can work!
Fourthly, one other issue of great concern to me is your propensity to micromanage things; take for instance your appointment of self to administer the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which for me is not healthy for what we have set out to achieve with the oil and gas sector. The rigors of attending to very crucial state matters of securing the country and other day to day running of government will not allow for you to function effectively as a petroleum minister. In the light of this Mr President, I urge you amongst other things to be sensitive to the idea of delegation of powers, the idea of building strong foundations around systems and not individuals because collective wisdom works better than individual wisdom.
Finally Mr President, the APC led government under your watch is not doing enough to actively engage and get the necessary buy in of Nigerians on what it intends to achieve, while i do not seek to undermine the current efforts of your media team by no means, am just thinking that as a nation we can engage citizens better. Town Hall meetings in banquet halls of five star hotels can only achieve but a little. Is it possible that we replicate these meetings at the LG levels and village squares across the 774 local governments in Nigeria? Can we patronize other local media outfits like radio and television stations in states using our local dialects and resources so we can reach out to more people? For me the answer is an emphatic YES! I am pretty sure that doing this will help us educate our people about government’s policy directions, it will help us douse unnecessary tensions and ‘’wailings’’ amongst the people and generate positive energy for national development. To do this will require ‘’uncommon’’ courage and sacrifice by both leaders and the led so that together we can realize the Nigeria of our dreams. Like Albert Einstein would say, ‘’In the midst of our adversities lies an opportunity’’.
I look forward to a day when the APC led government will take Nigerians to the promise land so it can muster the courage to ask Nigerians for yet another opportunity to serve. I wish you Godspeed, good health and strength as you pilot the affairs of this great country to an expected end.
Yours in the struggle for a better Nigeria,
Comrade Japhet Philip.