Mr. President, I am afraid that you have gotten to power and have been so swept up in the cocoon and bubble at the Villa that you have forgotten the people that put you there in the first place. Your appeal has always be the fact that there are people willing to unconditionally stake all they have on the line for you but your attitude since you assumed office has been to display an almost disdainful neglect of your primary constituency
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
President, C-in-C of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
State House – Abuja
Greetings Mr. President with best regards of the day.
I was prompted to write this letter to you after reading the one written to you by my brother and friend, Japhet Omojuwa. It was the inimitable Prof. Chinua Achebe that said that if you do not agree with what someone else has written, then you should write your own. Japhet did not comprehensively speak for me in his letter so I have decided to write my on letter to you.
A caveat sir; this is going to be a frank letter. I will spare you the accolades and commendations. I have a feeling that you are getting a bit too much of them which is why we are where we are. I am going to be as candid as I can be while striving to remain deferential and respectful in accordance with the high office you occupy.
That been said, permit me to go straight to the subject matter of this missive.
Mr. President, I am afraid that you have gotten to power and have been so swept up in the cocoon and bubble at the Villa that you have forgotten the people that put you there in the first place. Your appeal has always be the fact that there are people willing to unconditionally stake all they have on the line for you but your attitude since you assumed office has been to display an almost disdainful neglect of your primary constituency. You have come across in recent times as aloof, irritable and impatient with your people. You do not bother to talk to us and when you do, preferably to a foreign news medium during one of your numerous trips abroad, it is always with an air of someone far removed from the daily realities of the people he is governing.
Mr. President, what was that full ceremonial welcome at the Abuja airport complete with a colourful Scottish guard of honour and red carpet all about? In the midst of all the troubles we are daily facing, someone around you thought that that was okay and you basked in it all without a trace of embarrassment? I wager that the old Muhammadu Buhari who was in touch with his loyal faithfuls would not have condoned that charade for whatever it was worth but this new one is so far removed from us that he believed it was okay. Sad. We are watching.
Mr. President, permit me to quote American President Barack Obama during his trip to Ghana: “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions.” Sadly, Mr. President, you have displayed all the trappings of an African strong man who wants to be held over and above the institutions in his country. So far, this presidency has been all about you. Why have you been issuing directives to institutions of state to carry out their statutory functions? Why are you directing EFCC to arrest so so and so? Why do you insist at every interview that CBN will not devalue the Naira? Would it not be better to strengthen these institutions and encourage them to carry out their statutory functions without executive interference? Is there no organic process for these bodies to carry out their functions without the need for a Presidential directive? Mr. President, do us a favour, step back and allow these organs of government perform their functions. Thank you.
War on corruption
Mr. President, you have not left anyone in doubt about your desire to fight corruption. Indeed, this has been your strongest badge of honour till date. You are indeed fighting corruption but the method leaves a lot to be desired. We are back to the days of elaborate media trials and all noise and zero substance. Mr. President, we have seen this before. It usually does not lead to convictions. After the media cacophony, because time was not devoted to diligent investigation and prosecution, there is usually not enough evidence to convict the accused and they end up walking or the trial takes forever. Would it not be better to gather all the facts and put together a water-tight case before approaching the courts rather than this current tactics of leaking tidbits of on-going investigations to the press and creating a media storm that may not hold water at the end of the day? The other day, it was your official twitter handle tweeting allegations against Col. Sambo Dasuki. How did it get to that level?
Again Mr. President, this is not about you. This is about Nigeria and Nigeria is bigger than you. Kindly ensure that this war on corruption is fought procedurally so that its effect can permeate the system and ensure that never again shall we return to the days of the locust. Already, the initial Buhari fear is waning. Masu gudu sun bari gudu. They have seen that it is all bluster and little depth so they have returned to their old ways. Mr. President, the goats are still very much in the barn and they are having a fill.
Mr. President, your economic policies are difficult to pin-point. Nigeria is no longer the premier investment destination and things are really difficult. In certain decisions you have taken relative to economic policies, it is as if you are engaged in the Criminalisation of enterprise. From the Forex regime to economic policies, it has been one befuddling confusion after another. Surely, we can do better than this. And while we are on this topic, it is no longer expedient to blame Goodluck Jonathan for everything wrong with Nigeria. You have been in charge for 10 months sir. Start showing us your own workings and stop blaming others.
Mr. President, under your watch, we are poor yet we are acting rich. I am hard-pressed to find justification for your retention of the full Presidential Air Fleet 10 Months into your administration. Your greatest personal attribute is your frugality and your disdain for ostentation but it sadly has not reflected in your Presidency. I know you have heard of the Magufuli effect in Tanzania. Where then is the Buhari effect in Nigeria? Where is the cut-back on wastages? Where is the attitudinal adjustment to our economic realities? Some of the provisions in the 2016 budget make it difficult to take this change serious. Not just you but your Ministers are living large. Upon their inauguration, a statement was issued that Ministers will only move with two cars. We all applauded but alas, we did too early. That was a hoax. Your Ministers drive by in Abuja daily in convoys of upwards of 7 cars complete with Pilot and Escort vehicles. Where is the change?
Mr. President, let me make this as clear as possible: There is suffering in the land and I do not see any urgency on your part to fix this. From the difficulty in getting fuel to worsening power situation and so on, Nigerians are groaning.
Your Ministers have been largely ghost workers since their inauguration. If it was a private company with six-month probationary perform-or-be-sacked policy, they would all be gone because there is no sign of their impact after 6 months of their appointments.
What we are getting daily is you and your party denying promises that were made to us during the campaigns or waiving them aside like unrealistic demands of truculent children. Incidentally, they were not demands, they were promises freely made by you and your party to Nigerians as benefits of change from the former party to your party. Now that you have been elected, you are distancing yourself from those promises. We are observing. You will need our votes again.
Mr. President, this is the truth and perhaps the most important message in this letter: You are losing your most ardent supporters. Those who used to vociferously defend you all over the place are not so bothered anymore. They either keep quiet when you are being castigated or worse, join the complainants. Granted that you have good intentions for Nigeria but the truth remains that intentions are not enough. Ability must match intentions and at the moment, there is a disconnect between your good intentions and the demonstrated ability to implement them. There is something that your political advisers failed to tell you in the euphoria of your electoral victory last year. Granted that a lot of people voted for you as a person but there is yet an army who voted not necessarily for YOU but AGAINST the status quo obtainable at the time due to disappointment with the way things were. Those ones are independent thinkers and they are not beholden to your party or your persona and trust me, they are in the majority.
This is no longer about Jonathan supporters and Buhari supporters. This is about Nigeria and the way forward. I am involved. You are my President until at least 2019 and you are accountable to me. I write you this out of a sense of patriotic obligation in the hope that you will take the contents to heart and make the necessary adjustments. I do need you to succeed. I need Nigeria to be great for my children and I. I trust you to do the needful failing which, 2019 is not far away. We will meet at the polling booth.
Sam Hart writes from firstname.lastname@example.org.