...This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquillizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy."
---Martin Luther-King Jnr.
Forgive my language. I sometimes tend to get emotional when I'm writing, and on occasion tend to use some colourful language. If there is any in this letter to you, please overlook it.
By my own admission I don't like Americans. Hell by my own admission I don't like anyone but Nigerians. And even in recent times I'm beginning to find that I don't even like Nigerians that much. However I was privileged to listen to a great speech only a few days ago, made by a certain Barack Obama, and for the first time in a very long time, I found myself nodding to a politician's rhetoric and (o-my-God!) believing that this guy was genuine. Then the geezer had to spoil it all at the end by lacing it with direct references to, and lifting quotes from what is in my humble opinion the second greatest speech ever made by a man since Eduoard Leon-Scott first put human voice on foil. In any event, for the first time ever I actually wished I was American so that come November 4 I would do my bit to ensure that Obama is voted, even if that bit means going to stuff some ballot boxes, something that some of my peers were able to do for you. But then if wishes were horses...
Then in a stroke of Machiavellian political genius, the likes that have been so lacking in modern politics, the McCain camp announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, and I found myself swaying in the wind once again. She's everything I am (and other conservatives like yourself are) from a political sense: religious, check; woman, check; pro-life, check; opposes gay marriage, check; anti climate change, check; pro guns, check; then she's beautiful to throw into the bargain. Imagine all the leverage that the Americans would gain over the Russians in those testy negotiations by just presenting her. Imagine if she has to negotiate with you? I swear you will spend a lot of time admiring her. What more can they want?
The selection of Palin as McCain's running mate injects something into the McCain camp that his detractors may have (some already had) accused him of lacking, dynamism. There is no way in heaven, earth or hell that McCain could have matched Obama's personal dynamism, and on that score alone the election had already been decided, until yesterday of course. Personal dynamism is something that make no mistakes has always been required in order to be a leader of men. If you were not dynamic and/or charismatic, then men would not follow you. It has always been that simple. For crying out loud, El Cid's personal dynamism was such that even after he died his body was dressed in armour and led his men into battle!
That personal dynamism is something that Gordon Brown in the UK lacks. And it is something that both you my president and your vice utterly do not have.
As I have said before, I am of the strong opinion that you are a good guy, and well intentioned. But it takes something a lot more than being good to lead a country like Nigeria. To make matters even worse, it is evident that you are a sick man, and for that reason alone I am angry. For whatever it's worth, the health of the president of our nation is not a private matter, but a matter of urgent national interest. If our president sneezes, the nation ought to know if he has brucellosis. There should be nothing hidden about it. The cancellation of the state visit to Brazil, a visit that would have been potentially highly beneficial to Nigeria only goes to prove that you are in no state to continue what is in my mind one of the most stressful jobs on God's green earth.
For what it's worth, your predecessor (God punish him!) had the dynamism, strength and health that was needed to lead Nigeria, and in my opinion would eventually be judged by history. Truth of the matter is this, the man's legacy isn't yet set in stone because some things he did were quite frankly good, whilst others were quite frankly terrible. Chxta's personal hatred of the man stems from Bakassi, and from watching the Russians show us exactly how to deal with smaller nations in your backyard. Why did you let that handover to happen? I also blame you as well, but I am willing to let that slide because I want to believe that that particular chalice was already poisoned before being handed to you.
Your predecessor however made one really bad decision, and that decision it seems is going to be the one that comes to bite him in his large arse, the decision of who would succeed him. Placing you there was in my opinion a bad decision.
One by one the people whom your predecessor spent eight years putting at bay are beginning to regain their influence (even the really evil ones), and your predecessor's acolytes are beginning to find themselves having to run for the hills. The problem here is that those people who are coming under attack are the people who in a curious twist I rate very highly. I am most especially referring to Nuhu Ribadu.
For the past few days I've been trying to bring out a rationale behind the demotion of the man, and I simply can't. As far as I am concerned, that fellow did a great job whilst he was in charge of the EFCC, and in my opinion was more than anyone responsible to a large extent for the gradual return of confidence in Nigeria's economy/public sector. Now he is being hounded about almost like a common criminal. What kind of message are you sending across?
For what it's worth, Nigeria is at a very dire crossroads, and your seeming lack of interest, or ill health, or (insert phrase here) is not helping us at all, rather, it is a major hindrance to our quest to make progress. Since you came into office, we have only seen reversals on almost all of your predecessor's policies, even those that were for the good of all, we are yet to see any shifts in a positive direction on those issues that your predecessor evidently got wrong, and more importantly we are yet to see any major policy statements from him!
Things I would have expected to have started seeing some motion on in the last year:
1) Education: if you read my website, you will see that I wrote about this fairly recently, I will be blunt Sir, I am disappointed in how you have handled the education sector. How can we ever hope to make progress as a nation if we can't get that in order? As an academic, I expect that you will sort it out, no excuses whatsoever.
2) NEPA: all the reports available to me indicate that it has actually gotten worse, instead we hear a lot of noise such as Nigeria seeking technical support from Germany and Iran (Iran?!). From where I stand the solution to the NEPA problem is blindingly obvious. Break up the damned company in reality and not just in name. Make each state (or zone at the worst) responsible for its own power needs, and place them in direct competition with one another. I can almost assure that you'd see the difference in a year.
3) Transport: I was impressed when Mrs. Madueke was appointed Minister. Even more impressed when she apologised to the nation for the state of the Benin-Lagos Road. That was a year ago, and since then the dry season has come and gone. It still takes 7 hours to travel between both points, a distance that I used to do in less than three only a few years ago. Why hasn't your government moved to fix our crumbling transport infrastructure? Why have we not started seeing some work on our decayed railways?
4) The Niger Delta: this whole shabazz out there is getting worse by the day, and the fact that MEND has apparently been reduced to a hostage search and rescue organisation only goes to prove what I said all those months ago, that the Niger Delta 'militancy' is all about how much the 'militants' can spirit away to their bank accounts, and not the injustices that their people are suffering. I would have expected firmer action from Abuja on these people, not the kid gloves they are being treated with. Well, fair being fair, a friend of mine in the Army says that the new guys in charge (new service chiefs were appointed only days ago) are no nonsense fellows. Let's see what they do about it...
5) Security: when I was a lad, we used to 'steal' the parents' car(s) to go for night parties. From what I am told, that is no longer possible because the real robbers would get you if you do such, so the cover of returning the car to the garage before the parent(s) wake up is no longer an option because something would have happened to you at night. I have been reliably informed by people still in Benin that the SARS there (Special Anti Robbery Squad) have resorted to shooting young boys off hand. And only a few days ago, a man whom I grew up not too far from (his son and daughter were my classmates) was shot in broad daylight. Like so many murders that occurred in that sadly violent town where I grew up, I doubt that his would ever be solved. But this lack of security is not a Benin City problem, it is a Nigerian problem, and we can't expect to get serious investment in the country if there is insecurity all over the place. Then I hear that your mum was robbed? Do I need to flog this point further?
I would have expected these four issues to be treated with utmost alacrity, but as with everything about this administration, it has been go slow all the way. Anyway, this is a direct appeal to you, President Umaru Yar'Adua. Sir, I was told that you are a man of honour. If you are no longer up to the job of running Nigeria, then please do the honourable thing. Resign.