My dear President Buhari,
Once again and for the second time in the five years of your presidency, I have found it expedient to write you an open letter on the state of the Nigerian state. In my first open letter to you on the 24th of August, 2017, shortly after your return from a prolonged medical vacation in the United Kingdom, I had, after felicitating with you on the full recovery of your health, drawn your attention to the deep division of the Nigerian state and urged you to take deliberate steps at re-uniting the country. My appeal to you on the need to unite the country was predicated upon the deepening polarisation of the Nigerian state along ethno-geographic and religious fault lines in a little over two years after you were first elected into the highest office in the land in 2015.
From the Niger Delta to the South-East and North-East to the North-West as well as from the North Central to South-West regions of Nigeria, the division in the country was manifested in the form of violent ethnic and religious separatism, resource control agitations and mortal combat between various cultural economic groups over land and water resources.
I was not alone in making this important appeal to you on the need for you to lead a concerted effort of all critically relevant stakeholders of the nation Nigeria Project at uniting a deeply fractured Nigeria following your emergence as President of the federal republic from the keenly contested 2015 presidential election.
Many other patriotic Nigerians made a similar case for a united Nigeria as a condition preceding the peace, security and socio-economic development of the country. Unfortunately, my dear President Buhari, you failed to heed the call by well-meaning Nigerians to lead the process of national unity of our country and this fundamental failure of leadership is at the core of the complex web of complicated socio-economic and security challenges that are fast driving whatever is left of the Nigerian nation down road to a possible state failure.
Mr. President, whereas the problem of Nigeria’s disunity predates your current administration, your provincial, nepotistic, sectional exclusivist, non-national inclusive and overtly partisan leadership style has aggravated what was already a festering problem that was better managed by your predecessors. As a direct consequence of your unprecedented levels of divisive leadership style and poor diversity management of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, Nigeria has become most divided along its regular ethno-geographic and religious fault lines in the five years of your presidency than any other time in its 60 years as an independent country, including the years before, during and after the civil war (1967-1970).
In addition to the deep divisions in the land, your installation of perhaps the most sectional and nepotistic administrative machinery in the history of Nigeria, which has your Muslim northern section of the country dominating your kitchen cabinet, ministerial cabinet [including finance and petroleum], internal and defence security apparatchik, has elevated mediocrity over competence in the business of governance in the last five years.
Mr. President, the gross incompetence of your administrative machinery has greatly hampered the ability of your administration to fulfil any of your three-pronged campaign promises of fixing the economy, containing insecurity and tackling corruption. On the contrary, Nigeria has become worse off five years after you became President as a corrupt, heavily indebted, third most terrorised poverty capital of world.
Mr. President, your failure to carry out electoral reforms by your refusal to sign the 2019 amended Electoral Act passed by 8th National Assembly into law enthroned an unprecedented level of electoral banditry in the 2019 general election, which has equalled installed administrative banditry across all tiers and arms of government in Buhari’s Nigeria. Sadly, with out-of-control levels of corruption, poverty and insecurity pervading the land, the democratic rights of the depressed people of Nigeria to freely choose their political leadership through a credible electoral process have been suppressed by electoral subterfuge, thereby holing them up in a cul-de-sac of hopelessness.
My dear President Buhari, with a Nigeria that has become weakened from multi-dimensional divisions along ethno-geographic and religious fault lines, still challenged with chronic economic problems and heightened insecurity on all fronts, the current nationwide protest to end the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police is an early warning sign that Nigeria is at the end stage of state failure. The #EndSARS protest, which is actually a euphemism for “end bad governance,” is in reality a popular revolt by the Nigerian people against a political leadership that has deprived them of their citizens’ right of good governance. Like suicidal thoughts are to a depressed mind, revolutionary ideals have been embraced by a depressed Nigerian people that your government has denied any hope of democratic redemption from their oppressors.
Mr. President, the #EndSARS protest, which is NOT being sponsored by your political opponents but by crowd funding from millions of depressed and hopeless Nigerians, is an unfolding revolution that is organically driven by people power. And this movement, which includes some of your ardent but now disappointed supporters that are now using the protest against police brutality to ventilate their pent-up anger and frustration with endemic bad governance, is like an egg that must be handled with utmost care because once it is cracked it cannot be patched again.
However, Mr. President, there is a way out of the predictable social upheavals, absolute breakdown of law and order, which will be in nobody’s interest [including the protesters] but will only serve the criminal interest of armed groups such as Boko Haram, Ansaru, killer herdsmen, Niger Delta militants and terror groups that will emerge from the shadows to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of constituted authority. To avert all possible ‘avertables’ and halt Nigeria’s rapid slide into a failed state, you must, as President and Commander-in-Chief, take certain critical steps urgently to restore, hope, confidence and trust in constituted authority as well as usher in an atmosphere of unity among Nigerians.
In addition to the disbandment of the killer police squad known as SARS, Mr. President may consider addressing the Nigerian people directly and speak on some of the matters arising from the ongoing nationwide protests that border on good governance. An acknowledgement of some of the failings of your administrations, along with an apology for your administration’s inability to improve their lot and a firm pledge to make amends where necessary will go a long way to calm the people down.
Dear President Buhari, in your address to the Nigerian people, please, restore their lost hope in Nigeria’s electoral management process, which has deprived them of their democratic power to freely hire and fire their political leadership, by reassuring them of your commitment to electoral reforms. This statement of commitment to electoral reforms must be followed up immediately by expediting executive/legislative action on a draft electoral amendment bill for passage and assent within the period of the protest.
Thereafter, the Nigerian people may then be persuaded to explore the option of an improved electoral process to participate in choosing asset of political leadership that can carry out some of the far-reaching reforms in governance they are currently agitating for. Mr. President, you may also consider dismantling the nepotistic and sectional administrative machinery of your administration and installing an all-inclusive government that reflects Nigeria’s ethno-geographic and religious plurality in order to command national loyalty. A renewed atmosphere of national unity wherein no Nigerian will be treated less Nigerian than the other on the basis of religion, ethnicity or geography of origin has become imperative to douse tension and anger in the land.
As part of the confidence-building measures of your administration, Mr. President may further consider increasing the frequency of his visits to the states of the Nigerian federation across the six geo-political zones in order to give every section of Nigeria the much needed sense of belonging.
Whereas it has been my considered view that the problem of Nigeria is not so much about the structure but its operation, it has become important to take a second look at the issue of restructuring. Mr. President, the agitation for restructuring has become heightened precisely because its operation in the last five years of your administration has been the worst in the 60 years of Nigeria’s independence. Therefore, you can no longer ignore the agitations and expressions of concern for a better structure that serves the interests of Nigerians, irrespective of ethno-geographic or religious divides.
To this end , after due consultations with the National Council of State and other relevant organs of government, Mr. President, you may consider the setting up a national conference of the representatives of the peoples of Nigeria to have a dialogue on the formation of a just, equitable and fair structure for the Nigerian state. The recommendations from this conference should be forwarded as an executive bill to the National Assembly to effect a constitutional amendment to that effect.
In conclusion, as a loyal citizen of Nigeria who supported your aspirations to be President of my country between 2003 and 2015, I want to reiterate the fact that I love my dear President Muhammadu Buhari but I love Nigeria more.