YOUR Excellency, I hope this letter meets you in good health.
I will start with this Yoruba saying; Ajanaku k’oja mo ri nkan firi, t’a ba r’erin ka so pe a r’erin. In simple translation, when you see an elephant, acknowledge it, don’t say you just saw something pass by. In other words, where you need to acknowledge an achievement, do not deploy ‘bad belle’ and attempt to belittle a good job. So, Mr President, I acknowledge that with the Boko Haram war, you have done well. Even Sambisa forest, if it could speak, would admit that it has been thoroughly pounded. The evil men who once hoisted their flags on our sovereign soil and occupied the palaces of our traditional rulers have been castrated and chased into Lake Chad. The men who kept us awake and forced a whole nation to shut down schools and left our soldiers scampering for safety, tails in between their legs, have now gone into the holes they crawled from. Who would think the day would come when Nigerian newspapers will have a full month without blood from the North East dripping from their front pages? Even the IDPs didn’t know homecoming would be this soon.
Mr President, you have restored our hope as a nation, retrieved the pride of the military from the back pocket of insurgents and shown us once again that a Commander-in-Chief can indeed live up to his title. And as icing on the cake, the first Chibok girl has returned. Well done sir.
The current anti-corruption fight is also laudable. You are a soldier and you are giving a good account of yourself. You promised this and you are delivering on it. Everybody is afraid, bribe givers and bribe takers alike. Even beggars in traffic jam are more careful. When a man has five stubborn children who are forever getting into trouble, giving their mother high blood pressure and making neighbours cringe, that father must wield the whip. When three of those children are ‘sitting majestically’ ( we called it ijoko idera in those days) with their hands and feet in the air, the other two will behave themselves. They’ll know their father means business. The same way Nigerians know that there is a new Sheriff in town. Plenty of Nigerians are now ‘sitting majestically’ in prison, EFCC custody, DSS cells, their arms and legs flailing painfully in the air, their backbones threatening to crack. The rest of us are trying our darned best to be of good behaviour even if good behaviour is not a way of life we are used to. But we are trying, really, we are.
Trust me, Mr President, Nigerians are mending their ways, making their agbada according to their clothes, no extra unnecessary yards. We have cut down on the number of bowls of pepper soup we eat of Friday nights. Indeed, we no longer go out every Friday night. Between you and I sir, many Nigerians will not be spending their ‘summer’ holiday in America and UK this year. Even yours sincerely will be spending her summer in Uyo this year. That is what makes dollar sense. And with the new petrol price, only very important out-of-town parties will be attended. In fact, Nigerians will attend less and less parties because the throwers of parties will also throw less and less parties. We are trying, really trying.
But meeeen, Mr President, we are all hurting badly. Businesses are folding up. Those that have not folded up are in the throes of preventable death. Every industry is choking, gasping. And when I put my ear to the mouths of the choking businesses, all I could make out from their hot breath are :
This kind of change.
So you see, sir, this anti-corruption war is not totally bad but Nigerian businesses are bleeding. Most of the adjustments the businessmen and women are making have left them with deep gashes that are bleeding profusely and gradually as life seeps away from them, all they can feel is pain, despair, not the good things you are doing. Mr President, is it possible to nicely loose the noose, so we can get some air? We are not asking for anything corrupt o. Just that you relax this grip that is making business difficult. I’m sure you can find a way. Nigeria needs a strong man, someone who can wake us up from our deep slumber, whip us into line so we can focus on what is important.
I believe you are the man. I believe most Nigerians believe you are the man but if they choke to death physically or financially, doubts will creep in and once they start believing their doubts, their faith in you will start disappearing. As things are now, doubt has become an option. And that is dangerous because fighting corruption is what we must do. This war was long overdue before you started. This war is one that must be sustained for at least 16 years. That is my personal strong conviction. That is the only way we can change our value system. It’s the only we can kill ghost workers and convince them to stay buried. It’s the only way we can stop lawmakers from doing deals with evil servants who pad budgets in the ministries. It is the only way we can convince political office holders that they are in office to serve not to be served. Do-or-die politics will die if politicians get into office and find that they will not be allowed to travel 50 times a year with their entire village, buy 20 cars and build sewage tanks to hide money they do not need. Seriously, I have never understood the logic of a man who says he’s contesting to serve selling his houses and taking bank loans to run his campaign. If I’m the one begging you to run, shouldn’t I be the one raising funds to get you into office? And if a man sells his life’s sweat to get into office, what do we expect, that he won’t recoup his investment? Nah, he will steal and steal and steal until he can’t find anything to steal.
Your Excellency, in my small girl’s opinion, I think you need to restrategize this war so that those who believed will remain believers. You need to refocus this war so it can be sustained even beyond 16 years. Because if this ends after four years, this nation will be worse off in every way. So, sir, may we pick our battles carefully , fight without choking everything to death? I’m sure it is doable; after all, you are a General of many battles .
Here’s my fear. The big boys that are being hunted have more money than EFCC will ever know. Those whose businesses were built with their blood and sweat will not fold their arms while they lose decades and tons of investment.
The ordinary everyday man who can no longer feed his family or send his children to school won’t be so enthusiastic to go and cast his vote for APC in 2019. If these three groups of people pull their resources together, it may not be difficult to change Change. Or you think this is just a small girl’s small sense? Me I think if Nigerians can begin to see the change they can feel in their pockets, they will support this fight cheerfully but if they move from using kerosene stove to using firewood? I don’t know…
Your Excellency, is it true your governors are carrying their begging bowls to World Bank for grants? Grants for what exactly? To pay salaries? How they intend to repay whatever they incur again because there is no free lunch in the World Bank. Have you noticed that the states are not diversifying their economies? The only thing they are doing differently is owing salaries. When are they going to start converting their limitless fertile soil into money? When will we have states that can export beef and canned vegetables? W hen will the states see change? When will the governors change and drop the begging bowls?
There is so much I want to write but I will stop here for now.
Happy one year anniversary, sir.
Funke, the small girl.