By Salaudeen Hashim
Mr. President, let me start by wishing you a happy belated democracy day. June 12 was not just a date, it was history.
I commend you for the courage to recognise this as the official day to bask in the sun of democracy in Nigeria. No one would have thought you would be the one holding the reins of office today given the way Nigerian politics is permutated.
Indeed, only a fluky person could have dodged the several mines on the path leading to the office one you officially resumed in 2015. Like others, I felicitate with you and the country for this democratic feat.
General Buhari, I thought to spare time and compellingly draw your attention to the state of the nation you preside over.
I think it is high time you stepped out and see things in their true colour. For some reason, I think you are being fed the wrong impression of how things currently are and that may have explained why you told Seun Okinbaloye during that interview with Channels TV that you did not know where he got his statistics from.
By now, I had hoped local and international publishing organisations would be disturbing you with the request for exclusive publishing rights to your memoir which possibly will be titled – Top Secrets of Nation Building: The Nigerian Example – with forwarding written by a now frail Prof. Wole Soyinka or shall we describe it as a transparent opacity to development.
This is so because you rode on the cliché that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. We are not certain if we are the ones dying or the country.
But then like my football aficionados’ friends say – anything is possible even in the extra minutes. Sadly, while a football match is a 90-minute affair, nation-building is not.
Mr. President, you are an old man. At 0ver 70, you still deserve to envision a Nigeria that would be the pride of all. You have no business with dreaming; it’s the stuff of older men who would not be around to see things happen or make inputs in actualising them.
I know the Ministers may possibly be feeding you fat on statistics that pleasure the mind. I am certain your ministers at the Federal Executive Council meetings always have reported on how things are being transformed. I understand that your retinue of aides may even encourage you to whistle while you have your bath on the assumption that all is well. The truth is that all is not. I know so because I am an official citizen.
If you truly care to know sir, reach out to your friend Buba Galadima, you can learn a thing or two in the art of street disguise (no pun intended).
Besides, resources would not be a hindrance. Find your way to Egbeda in Lagos or Kabala Costain in Kaduna or Okitipupa in Ondo State or Holy-Ghost roundabout in Enugu without the appurtenances of the office you hold.
Even to jibya in your home state, Sir, all you need do is possibly find a local restaurant (Ayo Fayose may claim political plagiarism though) or a newspaper stand and eavesdrops on the conversations. There, you will find the true assessment of your seven years of presidency.
Mr. President, in Nigeria, it is not difficult to make a name. All you need to do are ordinary things. Ask Zulum and El-Rufai, the poster boys of good governance in Nigeria and they would share with you.
Their efforts thus far are no feat, but they are classified as one because we are so used to seeing mediocre performances that any departure from it is hailed with frenzy. For a moment Sir, imagine you were president of a country like Canada; a nation of a paltry 40 million people. What would be your manifesto – light, good road, or water? They are well past that.
Sir, don’t mind those liars who say there are no roads in Nigeria. They must be blind. There actually are Sir, it’s just that the roads are bad! Sir, of a truth, there is the power supply. It’s just not enough and where it is, you can be sure it is generator-powered!
Yet, Nigerians still get exploited and extorted. Sir, children are getting educated. It’s just that they are not taught enough to compete with their global contemporaries.
Some schools are closed because of rural banditry for over three years. Nigeria now has the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. Our gallant military just recently recovered two additional girls, who by the way are now mothers: from the raid in Chibok in 2014.
Sadly! I still wonder why children in Nigeria cannot embark on an excursion to Aso Rock like their counterparts in other democracies do.
Mr. President, I am sure you know Mo Ibrahim – the wealthy businessman of Sudanese descent. He still has the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership going. It is a worthy one to aspire to especially as it is a miniature of your transformation agenda since it measures delivery around security, economic development, and Anti-corruption.
I am hoping you will follow in the path of Pedro Pires, Festus Mogae and Joaquim Chissano, and win this prize with financial benefit almost four times more than the Nobel Prize.
And Sir, I was a bit relieved after reading your Nigerians are not appreciative of you. Maybe because of food inflation, they now find it hard to compare appropriately.
General Buhari, I wonder what must have been going through your mind at the mass burial of the Owo massacre. Like the literary Iroko – Chinua Achebe especially remembering that this was one conscientious Nigerian who had rejected the national award offered him by two Presidents who told us that “there was a country.”
He would have turned 92 today. Sir, you may well have a tip as to how to embark on your leadership of this nation. All you need do to ask yourself is – would Achebe or Gani now have accepted a prize with the current state of the nation?
From today, minus what you have spent in the office, you have less than a year in the office. I urge that you dare all your ministers to organise a public hearing on their scorecard and allow people to validate this, you might be shocked.
Sir, in Nigeria as of today, you are the real Oga at the top! It explains why the headache of a child in Zaki Biam is blamed on you. It also explains why any success also alludes to your office.
By the way, Sir, is it true that your wide permanently lives in Dubai? More than anything Sir, the health institution in Nigeria is a mess; it will explain why Senator Ekweranmadu is in the current quagmire.
Nigerians literally disturb God with prayers over health-related issues when already humankind has been blessed with the knowledge to address the same. Whatever ails or ailed our politically exposed persons, ails several others and for the ‘average Nigerian in Lagos,’ he or she may as well just be awaiting death since there is no access to first-class healthcare.
Our founding fathers left a will for independence. They hoped for a nation of class and strength. Sir, take a look at the coat of arms and there you will find all that Nigeria needs to be and become. Even as the army of unemployed youth continues to grow, I wish you well Sir even as I mouth happy democracy for the rest of the day.
Salaudeen Hashim is the programme manager, Defence and Security Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis