Dear Mr. President,
It has been so long since I have been this happy. You are President! And as much as you have been my favourite in this elections – always calm, no hate speeches, no tomfoolery – that is not why I chose you. I chose you because you are the only person strong enough to get Jonathan out.
This is because Mr. Jonathan has been an utter failure, sir and most of us that chose you share the same sentiment. You have your fans, granted. But most of us are just plain tired of his incompetence. I remember in 2009 when President Yar’adua was sick, we protested that Mr. Jonathan be made the acting President. For the first time in my lifetime, I saw Nigerians protesting for something outside religion, outside their ethnicities. Eventually, we succeeded and on 9 February 2010, Mr Jonathan was made Acting President.
Mr. Jonathan was the first President since M. K. O Abiola that the people worked to get into power. Why? He was a departure from the usual former leader (Obasanjo), Northern elite (Shagari, Yar’adua) type. He even told us he once never had shoes and this endeared him to us as one of us who has gone through tough times. As a Christian from Borno State – a minority that had been constantly disenfranchised and the butt of every type of violence, be it political, ethnic or domestic – we were preached to in churches to vote Mr. Jonathan. For me, I did not need any preaching. I was already for Jonathan and I didn’t want another Northern muslim that will further empower our religious oppressors especially one with your reputation of being an Islamist fundamentalist.
Now, this was 2011, and Mr. Jonathan had just won. We saw Boko Haram starting to regain strength and making a comeback. Now to a lot of ignorant people, Mr. Jonathan ‘inherited’ Boko Haram, but truth is, not exactly. Let me take you on another short trip to 2009 to explain. 2009 was the year Boko Haram emerged as a very violent group, I remember we University of Maiduguri students were fortunately on strike along with other public universities in the nation. By estimation, Boko Haram killed about 700 people that year but just as they emerged, President Yar’adua submerged them right away. The proof is in the fact that in the following year, 2010 – the year Yar’adua died, Boko Haram’s body count dropped to 75. In 2011, Boko Haram started making a comeback and as a result, 569 people lost their lives. By now, Jonathan was no more an acting President but an elected President. Still he was quiet. There was no press around it, no international attention and never was there a statement from the Presidency. It was like we in Maiduguri did not exist. As I write this, I even find it hard to believe that the President could be so callous and uncaring but I was there and I remember my pain.
To his credit, after the Police HQ was bombed on June 16, 2011, he finally made a statement and addressed this. I might be selfish but I was glad Boko Haram finally hit where it matters. Nobody really cared while it was just Maiduguri people getting killed. Boko Haram showed they meant business by hitting the UN Building on August 26, 2011 which now brought international attention. But for we in the eye of the storm, the time from when he became Acting President on 9 February, 2010 to the bombing on 16 June, 2011 was a nightmare. After addressing it and promising the world that Boko Haram will be apprehended, Mr. Jonathan did nothing significant again till 14 May 2013 when he declared a state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. During this time, the people of this region and a few in other regions had gotten tired of waiting for Mr. President. Before the soldiers came, Borno youth banded up and formed a vigilante force that caused Boko Haram a lot of trouble.
I made a lot of soldier friends during that time and they were all always complaining of how tired they were of the system. A pattern even arose – whenever a new soldier was deployed to town, he assures us of how easy Boko Haram will be cleared and that they will be done that month, but the corrupt officials ensured that this never happened. But still Mr Jonathan folded his hands, And if there was any doubt that probably Boko Haram was too much of a force to conquer easily, the achievements of the military within the last 6 weeks has shown us the fallacy of that assumption. If Mr. Former President had dedicated so much attention to this since 2011, I would not have been writing this letter.
Ironically, during this time of inaction, Mr. Jonathan was not idle.. He was busy givingPresidential pardons to criminals like DSP Alamieyeseigha, renaming University of Lagos to Moshood Abiola University, championing for a one-term, six-year presidential tenure as opposed to the usual four-year and removing the subsidy on fuel. During his time, corruption was having a field day, as criminals like Farouk Lawan, Abba Moro and Musiliu Obanikoro avoided any investigation despite glaring evidence of their crimes and national outcry. These actions blinded people to the progress Mr. Jonathan made in the Agricultural sector and the foundations he laid in the Power and Rail industry, and rightly so.
This was enough for me to step back and take a look at you when Atiku Abubakar lost the primaries to you. I realized that if you really wanted to Islamize Nigeria, the best time would have been in 1983 when you were young, brash and in total control. I also admitted that yes, you seemed to have worked with a lot of other ethnicities and did not let nepotism cloud your judgement. It was already a foregone conclusion that you were the least corrupt leader Nigeria has ever had (along with Gowon). I decided to place my bets on you instead of managing another 4 years of sheer incompetence.
Now before I digress any further, let me tell you why I am writing this letter. You have helped us make history by being the tool we used in unseating an incumbent President. This has signalled a change for Nigerians who will no more take complaceny or indifference from their leaders. You have also replaced Mr. Jonathan by being the President who the most support was shown to during the campaigns. We donated, evangelized, formed street teams and went all out. Take a cue from my first paragraphs, however, and do no squander the goodwill we have poured on you. This reenergized band of Nigerians will even hold you more accountable than they did your predecessor. Today, the real winners are Nigerians, and then you. I implore you to put in all your best and make change as you promised. If not, we promise you an unseating like we did in this historic year.
I have detailed out few ways the previous President failed, avoid it. If you treat Nigerians well, they will treat you like a god. We have always been a people that are easy to please, contrary to general belief. But pushed to the wall, we push back. We will hold you to your manifesto. We will hold you to your promises.
Surround yourself with good people. Appoint the best the nation has had such as people like Gov. Fashola, Oby Ezekwesili, Donald Duke while at the same time appointing exceptional youth and serving ministers like the Minister of Agriculture and so on. Commemorate the memory of our fallen heroes like Dr. Stella Adadevoh, Wing Commander Chimda Hedima, and our other fallen soldiers while compensating their families and encouraging the current troops which the previous government shamefully refused to do. These are tiny things which cost no money, just common sense. Show concern, be on ground when there is a tragedy (thankfully, you don’t seem like the shoki-dancing type) and show that you are putting in effort.
President Jonathan unlooked when the masses started compaining instead of listening, forgetting that the masses campaigned to get him in. He cozied up to the ones in power instead. Back then, the likes of Sahara Reporters and activists like Omojuwa were for him, but when they talked about his inadequacies, the narrative changed to ‘opposition forces paying them’. Listen to the people, do not let power corrupt you. Disassociate yourself with bad people, regardless if they helped get you in power. Don’t have failures like Doyin Okupe, Reno Omokri representing you. Do not have mentally unstable people like FFK on your team. You and the APC should carefully vet who decamps to your party. It is not always a win situation as Jonathan’s partnership with Ali Sheriff has proven.
Dear Mr. President, I am not even going to touch on the complicated aspects such as economy, politics, power because these are things I have limited knowledge on, but I will implore you to appoint the best of the bests to handle these. This country is full of intelligent minds and if you search a little, you will find them. It is time we show the world what we are capable of.
Mr. President, I congratulate you on your victory, and this is to hoping that you have a remarkable 4 years. We will review and make a decision in 2019.
Stephen Amaza on behalf on Nigeria
First published on blog.kingamaz.com