President Muhammadu Buhari, as a retired military General, I know you do not tolerate insubordination in any guise. Much more sir, as a perceived purveyor of morality and bearer of the moral armour, you would cringe at the mere thought of some people stealing directly from the public till. Never mind what your detractors say that you are one huge joke in the serious business of anti-corruption; that you are a bloody pretender who enjoys corruption vicariously like a voyeur when it serves your need but pretends to fight it, and indeed fight it, when it serves your ego-pumping purpose of disgracing your political foes.
Your detractors say, and still insist, that former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, a retired Colonel, who has been in detention for over two years in spite of several court declarations to the contrary, suffers this cruel fate because when your paths crossed in the past, in those heady days of martial music and martial broadcast followed by martial orders, it was not a pleasant experience for you. It’s being rumoured that you are merely taking your pound of flesh on the ex-spy master. Well, that’s what your detractors say behind you.
Mr President, I have elected to write you via this medium and in this manner just to tell you the truth that your aides may have forgotten to tell you. After reading the memoir of your Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina, my authentic boss in the media and a man I have immense regard and respect for, I am constrained to engage in this unsolicited gossip.
Some of your aides, the few honest ones like Adesina, said you have consistently appealed to them to always tell you the truth in all situations. This is exactly what prompted me to engage in this truth-telling adventure just in case some of them have reneged on this all-important Presidential appeal to tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Mr. President, as you may have been told, petrol scarcity has again hit the nation. I was compelled to buy a litre of petrol at N250 which translated to N2,500 for 10 litres. In a few filling stations that dispensed from their nuzzles, a litre was sold for N160 and we queued and begged to buy. That’s not all Your Excellency, most of the filling stations have cruelly adjusted their metres such that what is sold as 10 litres may actually be 8 litres or less and the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) is somewhere making mouth, threatening filling stations which engage in sharp practices with fines and sanctions. It’s all hot air Mr. President, these filling stations are confidently undercutting motorists. Nigerians are wondering why they have to suffer fuel scarcity with all your promises to end such perennial pain and anguish and more importantly when you have increased the pump price of petrol to N145 per litre, the highest price any government has charged the people for fuel.
The other truth they may not have told you is that Nigerians are going through their most insufferable moments and motions, only comparable to sufferings during the civil war. People are suffering and smiling. I am sure that your aides you hired to tell you the truth will only tell you about the false smiles but will keep the sordid suffering away from you. The pang of pain is much among the people and it is not limited to a particular part of the country. It’s nationwide, across all demographics. And these are the same people who voted for you: young, middle-age, old, nobody is immune.
I reckon they will reel out impressive statistics of a mending economy, of jobs created, of yam export, of better standard of living among the people. Don’t ever believe them. The truth is that individual economies of the people have collapsed. Never in Nigerian history have the people suffered such economic atrophy. Prices of goods that went up have stayed up. Matters are made worse by the weakening of the naira against the dollar. At N360 or more in the parallel market, these prices are not likely to come down whereas income of Nigerian workers have remained the same, in some cases slashed. They will not tell you that more companies have closed shops; that those still operating are merely gasping for economic breath; they won’t tell you, Your Excellency, contrary to the claims of creating millions of jobs by your government that more jobs have actually been lost under your watch. And it’s largely due to your poor leadership, wonky judgment and delay in taking decisions.
Perhaps, one thing they won’t tell you is that your key asset, your anti-corruption disposition, has become your chief liability. The ordinary people who voted you into office and who trusted you to chase the crooks out of town are having a rethink. They say you have all over you a garrison of thieves; that there is no difference between your administration and the previous administrations in terms of corruption. Some even claim (but I don’t believe them) that there is more corruption under you particularly among your direct aides and appointees than we have had. They point to the so-called typographical error in the mysterious revision of MTN fine, the rash of contracts at NNPC, the Mainagate, the Ayo Oke million dollar Ikoyi house puzzle, the lucrative contract of grass-cutting linked to former SGF, David Babachir Lawal; indictment of Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu by the DSS resulting in his non-confirmation by the Senate; the lopsided appointments you have made among others as evidence that corruption is alive and well in your government.
Nobody will tell you that your popularity rating has dropped drastically among the people most of whom now see you as yet another failed leader in the mould Shagari, Obasanjo, Yar’adua and Jonathan. They will not tell you that every government exists for the sake of the people hence all its actions must be for the good of the people. Your aides will not tell you that your government has brought more misery than good on the people. No, they won’t tell you that this Christmas, the usual buzz of festivity has disappeared not by choice but because it has been reduced to a mirthless, not a merry, Christmas: no money. Shops have recorded poorest sales ever; families are leashed to a spot, they cannot afford their usual travels. It’s just too grinding.
Yet, Your Excellency, some people still believe in you. It’s called goodwill. Not many people have it. They are wishing you get things right; they wish you could do away with the corrupt and corrupted in your kitchen cabinet. It’s just their wish. The rest is up to you. But whether you get it right or wrong, one thing is certain, if there is an election today against any candidate, you will lose. Even your diehard supporters are calling for a change of the CHANGE (some say CHAIN) government. That is the truth. To a hungry man, food is God (apology to Ghandi). Under you, Nigerians are hungry, more Nigerians have been impoverished. That is the truth, Mr. President. Forget statistics. Anybody can generate statistics but nobody can wipe out the truth. Statistics exit on paper but truth is in the hearts of the people. That makes it more potent.