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An Open Letter to Nigerians – by Sampson Ojukwu

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Kanu arrived Nigeria with two passports: Nigeria, and British. In other word, Kanu has dual citizenship. It appears that your president does not know that one could have two passports?

Dear Nigerians,

This is wishing you a happy New Year, 2016. You made it! It feels good to know that you are still holding on. Earlier in 2015, your Church CEO, sorry, your pastor, had “prophesied” to you that you will enter your destiny in 2015, and hopefully you danced to the altar to deposit your hard-earned money in the offering box. Did it happen in 2015? Well, the CEO, I apologize again, your pastor, probably bought a jet for himself in 2015, traveled to the Unites States or Europe for the summer, and added more cars to his fleet. How many new cars did you buy in 2015? I mean, “tear rubber” not “tokumbo?” Would you believe him again this year if he came with yet another of those “penticommercial” clichés?

I expect him to tell you that all your enemies will die in 2016. He will paint a picture of your enemies to enable you identify them. Relax, I can readily tell you one of them. You know, in Nigeria, people hardly die of natural causes, cancer or stoke, or their businesses collapse due to the viciousness of globalization; it is always the handiwork of the evil woman in your village, who resents seeing you prosper,  and would stay awake all night mobilizing the evil forces to destroy your business or cause you terminal illness. Meanwhile, you justify investing greater resources in building magnificent cathedrals and mosques, but have shacks for hospitals. 

Again, I am in awe of some of your citizens, who would readily empty their bank accounts to demonstrate their faith by their extreme works. One of your successful businessmen built the “Africa’s biggest Jesus Statue.” He made a great statement, which people all over the world admire, but his Jesus’s statue looked white with a long hair.  Jesus was not a Whiteman; he was a Middle-Eastern man. In fact, Jesus should even look a lot like the businessman than a White man. You know, the Black Africans are the only human beings unabashed to worship a God that does not look like them. Talk about the psychology of slavery and the relics of colonialism.

I salute your tenacity and resilience in the face of life’s realities. You are made of steel, iron, rod, including concrete. Nothing moves you. You successfully conducted an election in 2015 and installed an opposition candidate as president, a rare achievement in Africa.  The cynics predicted that your country would collapse in a cataclysmic inferno in 2015. See, they were wrong. Well, you are still here.  Do not mind Kanu and his gang of depraved irritants agitating for Biafra. They refuse to accept the death and interment of Biafra in 1970. 

Nevertheless, I would suggest to your government to shut out the noise from the agitators and listen to what they have to say; it is dangerous for a polity for such a critical mass to harbor the sort of anger those youths exhibit. If MB thinks that by locking up Kanu and his compatriots the Biafra ideology will fizzle and die a natural death, I am sorry to say, he is mistaken. Kanu only ignited an ash that have smoldered for over forty years. Biafra is beyond a territory; it hangs on your country like the sword of Damocles. It does not bear on whether or not you believe that “There was a country.”

Kanu arrived Nigeria with two passports: Nigeria, and British. In other word, Kanu has dual citizenship. It is somewhat embarrassing, but it appears that your president does not know that one could have two passports? I guess he has to expand the Kirikiri and Kuje prisons, as well as EFCC’s detention centers and station his men at all your ports of entry to pick up Nigerians resident abroad; most of them travel with two passports. 

I also read that a court of competent jurisdiction granted that useless Kanu and Dasuki bail, but your leadership rearrested them.  The judiciary is one of the three arms of government, right? I mean equal and complementary.  My sense is that your president overreached his powers. Or has MB transformed into a civilian dictator this early in his administration?  His action suggests a sign of greater things to come. You see, fighting corruption is one thing, but ignoring a court’s ruling is worrisome. Even more worrisome is the silence from your attorney general and minister of justice, including your Bar Association (NBA), plus your Senior Advocates (SAN). I thought that by now your lawyers would demonstrate their outrage in a way that will get your president’s attention. You know, it is always alright until somebody says, “wait a minute”

Congratulations, high fives and “more Jeleen to your elbow!” You succeed where others fear to try. Can you imagine Paul Kagame of Rwanda about to squander the goodwill of lovers of peace, the world over, as he seeks a third term as president? You know, he is that good and therefore the constitution should be modified to satisfy his penchant for power. OBJ attempted it a few years ago and failed.

I hope you had a merry Christmas. Did you find gas to drive around town? Your minister of state for petroleum resources assured you that your refineries would be up and running by the end of December, with a caveat that the government will continue to import oil beyond 2016.  If your refineries will operate at their maximum, why import oil? Did that surprise you? So, exactly when is your government hoping to stop importing oil and concentrate on exploiting your own refineries? That sounded like the voice of GEJ.

 Folks in the Northeast did not have a “joyful” Christmas. Boko successfully unleashed its killing machine once again on them, notwithstanding the assurances by your government that your armed forces would close the chapter on Boko by the end of December.  You are very trusting, and I swear you believed your government’s propaganda, right? Wrong! Your generals do not have combat experience. They perform exceptionally well if squared with unarmed civilians, but will abdicate their position on sighting Boko.  

My friend just brought to my attention a report that Governor Ambode saved the life of one of your citizens, who would have been beaten blue, black, yellow, if not killed, if he gone with those air force cadets to their base. Those were the guys you hoped would defend you against foreign threats, including Boko. Their conduct gives you an idea about the quality and psychology of the personnel in your air force and other security agencies. The police handed the boys over to the air force, right? Was there a reason they could not be tried in a regular court? 

I am sure you read how your army boys dealt with Sheik El Zakzaky and his band of troubleshooters in Zaria. They were idiots to dared to obstruct the movement of one of your generals, the prince of Nigeria, who moves in a cortege of cars equipped with the latest security gadgets and a crowd of armed officers for extra protection. I just read that for over twenty years, El Zakzaky operated a shadow government, which terrorized the residents of the area around Zaria and no one knew about it until now. Well, I lived in Zaria between 1990 through 1997. I actually attended the Ahmadu Bello University (Great ABU!) in the late 90s. I heard about Sheik El Zakzaky as an Islamic preacher, but no one subjected me to any parallel allegiance outside the Green, White, and Green. Please, do me this favor; take the current demonizing of the cleric with a grain of salt. The army is attempting to hide that its officers opened fire and slaughtered unarmed civilians. Ordinarily, your Muslim brothers and sisters would have taken to the street screaming, “Allah Akbar,” and probably spilled some Igbo blood to assuage their thirst for vengeance.  Sheik El Zakzaky is a charlatan, a Shiite in a predominantly Sunni Northern Nigeria. He should know better. My advice is this: do not let your army get away with the Zaria massacre. If you do nothing, your freedom is under threat. 

I am sure you heard about the explosion at a gas plant in Nnewi, Anambra state, which took the lives of over one hundred of your citizens. The accident threw the affected families into mourning on Christmas day. And as you might guess, your government will not conduct any investigation into the accident or take action to regulate the operation of such business so that a similar accident does not reoccur anywhere in the country. In climes, which value the lives of their citizens, it will be a top priority. The legislators will organize a hearing immediately and invite experts to advise them on how best to regulate the industry since it poses a substantial risk to human life. This is apart from the justice department initiating an independent investigation for a possible institution of a civil action against the owner of the business for negligence or recklessness and or a potential for a criminal charge of murder or manslaughter. 

In your country, you conduct businesses in a unique Nigerian fashion. Once elected, your legislators reside and operate from a different planet. They eat different food and breathe a different air. When the president of the senate went to court to respond to charges filed against him, the leadership of the house shut down the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Currently, they are working assiduously to rein in on free speech. In their view, the social media are audacious and should be restrained; they have lost every sense of respect for the “honorable members.” I heard that they have completed plans to purchase new vehicles valued at over N4.7 billion. Not long ago, they agreed to cut their salaries to reduce the cost of running the government. Does such an expense suggest cutting costs? I thought about collecting the signatures of concerned Nigerians to recall all of them. I am sure it crossed your mind as well.

You may have read about the continuing investigation into the activities of your former national security advisor (NSA), Mr. Dasuki. A couple of weeks ago, I read that former President Goodluck Jonathan (GEJ) offered the then candidate Mohammadu Buhari (MB) two SUVs when Boko threatened his life. Yes, before he became President.  You will recall that MB ran his campaign on the promise of fighting corruption.  What I am hearing from his camp is that as a former head of state, he was entitled to three cars every four years and that he did not receive a certain amount of money. Does it make a difference whether he received cars or money?  The point is that he received from GEJ, just like the rest of them. Did MB ask the source of fund used to procure those vehicles?

Boko murdered over 13 human beings from the same town, Adazi Nnukwu, Anambra state, in 2012 while they were having their town meeting in Mubi.  In addition, Boko has slaughtered thousands of your citizens and displaced millions in Borno. Did GEJ compensate any of the families that suffered a loss due the activities of Boko? I guess that MB, as a superior citizen, was worth more than the “lesser citizens” were and deserved a preferential protection, leaving the “lesser citizens” at Boko’s mercy.

You see, it is an inexcusable perfidy for the government’s spokesperson to give you half information about what occurred between Mr. MB and GEJ and remind you about the austere or spartan disposition of President MB.  It borders on sycophancy and you are not a bunch of morons.  In fact, his response raised more questions than answers. For instance, when was the last time a government offered MB three cars prior to GEJ’s offer? Did the government of OBJ offer him cars and when? Did the government of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (SMY) offer him cars and when? The government’s spokesperson, in an attempt to place MB in the most glorious and impeccable light, compromised transparency. 

The equality of the human species underscores the teachings of many of the world’s religions.  The founders of the United States adopted the equality principle in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” George Orwell entered the stage in 1945.  After watching the interplay of political forces during his time, he abandoned the equality ideals and concluded: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Dear Nigerians, you need to acknowledge the reality of your situation. The few privileged to control your common inheritance keep messing with your heads. They lie to you repeatedly, and have been successful in making you believe that your differences, ethnic, social, and religious, are at the core of your failure. While you cannot discount their influence, your real problem, in my judgment, remains the elites, including President MB.  So far, the beneficiaries of NSA’s “generosity” cut across your country’s ethnic and religious spectrum. Very soon, you may begin to unravel how the traditional and religious leaders as well as personnel of the various law enforcement communities benefitted from his large heart. Those are the real threats to your progress and certainly not the Fulani farmer in Malumfashi, the Yoruba street trader in Ikare, or the Igbo villager somewhere in Nnokwa. 

President MB promised to abolish the Office of the First Lady; currently, you have the Office of the Wife of the President with all its trappings. I have been scratching my head to figure out the difference between the two. Does it sound to you that he was being disingenuous, no, playing politics with your emotion? I feel the same.

Do you remember the former governor of Lagos state? I mean the man that built the “golden website?” There you go!  Fashola (SAN). As your minister of power, works, and housing, he informed you recently that the federal government would reintroduce toll gates to enable the government raise money for road maintenance. The last time you had toll gates the money was misappropriated. The contract went to cronies and family members and your roads were death traps.  

I wonder if there is going to be any difference this time around. The benefit a poor folk derives from being characterized as a Nigerian is driving on paved roads or walking on sidewalks built with your tax money. Think about it for a moment; you do not have an oil well or access to government coffers, like the rest of them do. If the government would tax you to drive or walk on paved roads, what then would be the dividend of your citizenship? 

I have more to share with you but time will not permit me. Until you figure out how best to hold your leaders accountable, have a nice day and continue to work for the advancement of the greater good.

Sincerely,

Nwike (S) Ojukwu, SJD; Follow me on Twitter @sampsonojukwu

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