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Another Desperate Memo To President Buhari – By Dele Momodu

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Your Excellency, Assalam Alaikum. It has been over six months since you graciously invited me to your office in Abuja. I must note once again that I was truly honoured and humbled by our one-on-one meeting. We spoke and interacted like two old buddies. What was more, I was all alone with you without a third party in the room. We spoke candidly and cracked jokes freely. I remember presenting you with an advance copy of my forthcoming book and you even requested me to autograph it for you which I did with such pride and gratitude in me. We took loads of pictures before and after the meeting. I left you reassured in my belief that Nigeria is in safe hands.

Sir, a lot has happened since that meeting took place. In fact, so much water has passed under the bridge. Let me take you down memory lane a bit. You started contesting the Presidential election as far back as 2003. For three consecutive times, you lost and it seemed all hope had evaporated. In 2011, we were co-contestants. I was driven to your house one night by Prince Lanre Tejuoso (now a Senator) who wanted me to tone down my criticism of you and opposition to your candidacy. I was totally disarmed by your humility and simplicity. You spoke softly and candidly.

I felt you were too old to return to a post you left nearly 30 years ago but you were certain you still have so much in you to offer Nigeria. The Jonathan government that won the election at that time was ushered in with so much hope and promise. After that election, you said that you would never seek elective office again. After three arduous attempts, you must have felt it was all a bloody waste of time seeking an opportunity to rebuild an irredeemable country that seemed determined to be plunged into the abyss by those you were convinced did not mean well for the country. But the government that promised us fresh air soon lost its sail and floundered aimlessly. It wobbled and fumbled till it became obvious that something had to be done to avert a monumental catastrophe, the kind that you had foreseen. The situation became so bad that most of us were left with no choice but to see you as our only God-sent redeemer.

This was how the stone previously and repeatedly rejected by the builders suddenly transfigured into the much needed cornerstone. Your most caustic critics soon became your ardent fanatics. We were hypnotised and mesmerised by your new look. You were repackaged as a reformed and born again democrat. We studiously ignored your military credentials and dictatorial proclivity. The young and old screamed your name from the rooftops. Many youths were ready to march for you and even die in the process. The last time we witnessed such a phenomenon was in 1993 when Chief Moshood Abiola contested and won the June 12 Presidential election which was later annulled by your former colleagues in the army.

You and your political party enjoyed a whirlwind romance with Nigerians. The covenant was based on mutual trust and the hope that you had robust knowledge of Nigerian history as well as vast experience in governance. Your avowed integrity was the icing on the cake. We expected you to inspire us as a veritable example of honesty-personified. The election came and you won almost effortlessly. What mattered to us was for someone to liberate and remove us from the suffocating yoke of the PDP. You looked the perfect man to do it.

Of course, to whom much is given much is expected. The burden of proof and expectation hung around your neck like an albatross. Soon, it seemed Nigerians thought and assumed that they had voted for a magician and so expected miracles to happen instantaneously. Trouble started very early. You inherited a government with plummeting revenues as the crude oil which greased the economy had suffered a massive collapse in price thus emasculating our country’s fortune and reserves. In addition, just before you returned to power the outgoing government had twice devalued the Naira leaving you with a currency that was set for free fall. In short the Government that you assumed control of was one which was like a disaster waiting to happen.

Nigerians are generally impatient. We are action-packed and expect talismanic results. Unfortunately that has not happened and is not likely to happen soon no matter how hard you try. Sir, let me stop the introduction and go straight to the crux of the matter. While I do not want to sound like a doomsday prophet, I wish to alert you that there is fire on the mountain. This is not a subtle or covert attempt to create any panic. As a war General, I’m certain you have enough liver to withstand shock. But what I wish to say without mincing words is that we are yielding grounds to the enemies. Hard core supporters of your campaign like me are being derided by those who feel you are not living up to expectations. I know your handlers are likely to dismiss this as crying wolf where there is none but please, don’t listen to them. The situation is very critical and may even get out of hand if not carefully and delicately managed. You are going to be told the usual tales and rigmarole of how corruption is fighting back. Yes, perhaps corruption is fighting back truly but it is because you did not prepare adequately for the backlash. The style and manner of the war you are waging has not been novel. The approach has been a rehash of the Obasanjo era with Nuhu Ribadu in charge.

What would I have done differently if I were you? I would have traced and located the loot as much as possible before launching my attack. Surprise is one of the most effective weapons of war. And you are without doubt an accomplished General. It is only in Nigeria that investigators announce in advance who the next set of villains they are coming after will be. I would have gone to the courts to seek permission to freeze the looted funds. Thereafter, I would have asked my operatives to show evidence of the identified perpetrators and located the looters and ask for their cooperation in gently signing the purloined money back to the State without hullabaloo. I will then exchange a grudging handshake and tell them to sin no more. Those who wish to be difficult would be treated like hardened criminals and the full weight of the law would descend powerfully on such recalcitrant fellows. I would have kept the promise you made prior to assumption of office of drawing the line after being sworn in on May 29 and punish any fresh acts of rascality and irresponsibility.

I will ensure there is a uniform treatment for all Nigerians, rich or poor, members of my party and others. I will avoid anything that would suggest I’m principally after my perceived enemies and opponents. I will not create tension and confusion within my own party and accept the verdict of the people in their collective wisdom or stupidity. A house divided against itself cannot stand, I read in the Holy Bible.

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