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Dear President Goodluck, Who Is Giving You Bad Advice? – An Open Letter

January 10, 2012

The man died in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny – Wole Soyinka

I trust you are keeping well within the safe confines of the soon-to-be-further-fortified Aso Rock complex.

The man died in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny – Wole Soyinka

I trust you are keeping well within the safe confines of the soon-to-be-further-fortified Aso Rock complex.

I am a concerned citizen(who by the way is totally in support of a properly articulated and executed subsidy removal), and a man quite easy to reason with; so I hope you are in the mood to reason.

Sir, it was indeed very interesting this evening to hear your response to the groundswell of widespread protests by a cross-section of the Nigerian people, to your government’s recent decision to remove the Federal Government’s subsidy on petroleum products (specifically petrol, since the market for its two siblings, diesel and kerosene, had long been ‘’deregulated’’ without much to show for it in terms of price reduction by the nebulous market forces). You were reported to have attributed the protests to ‘’propaganda by certain individuals with a view to discrediting you’’, as stated your SA on Media, Dr Reuben Abati. I hope you catch and punish these envious detractors!

Mr President, I do not know if you personally work your twitter handle and Facebook page (via which you made quite a fairly good showing among adherents during the last elections, but i digress)  but going by sentiments expressed about and towards you in the social media and on the streets, it would seem to me that majority of mainstream Nigerians do not think you are a great guy, and that is putting it mildly! I on my part have decided to, for the sake of argument, agree with a friend of mine that you possess much more intelligence (or did he say ‘’cunning’’?) than a lot of people give you credit for. I agree with him only because to contemplate the alternative is scary to say the least.

And even though the buck stops on your desk, I am reasonable enough to acknowledge that a leader of any nation cannot govern alone without a company of technocrats and politicians surrounding them to give advice and implement policy, much as you have done. As Head of State, cabinet selection, whether influence by political, altruistic or nationalistic consideration, is your call, therefore performance of same must reflect on you. It is with this in mind that i crave your indulgence to ask you the following pertinent questions,in the sincere hope that attempting to answer them would also prompt you to ask yourself some further questions.

Firstly sir, is it true that in the heat of the the subsidy removal discourse towards the end of last year, several top-level representatives of your government, including cabinet ministers, alluded to  April 1, 2012 as being the earliest possible take-off date for the policy, in order to allow for widening of stakeholder consultations, logical conclusion of ongoing ones as well as putting in place of palliatives (yet another buzzword that has gained ground in the Nigerian socio-political discourse) which would hopefully cushion the effect of the hardship which must reasonably accompany the policy at its early stages. Several names have been mentioned, although on radio today, I heard your Prime, sorry coordinating minister spiritedly mouthing a denial of her role in any form of futuristic date-fixing. If the Oil minister does not also deny, that would leave most fingers pointing her way. So how come the decision to suddenly start implementation on January 1, thus catching a lot of already impoverished Nigerians off-guard? Who gave you that advice sir?

Regardless, do you not think this, if true, kind of of portrays your government – and by extension yourself- as lacking in trust and integrity, values that have been lacking in this country’s governance for so long and that you have consistently promised in your campaign USP of Transformation?

Secondly, may i ask why, after spontaneous protests and criticisms broke out nationwide against the January 1 ‘’coup’’ and its attendant unanticipated  burden on the people, you waited several days to address the nation; and even then only to offer government spending ‘’cuts’’ that many would count as an insult to your people’s collective intelligence. Why stick your guns in the face of stridened and popular calls for mass action against an obviously unpopular decision. Which of your assistants, advisers, ministers, consultants or strategists advised you that to ‘’let the bloody masses vent’’ was the best way to maximize the moment?
And in your speech, one could not but notice a failed attempt to sound tough, brave and confident. Sir, have you considered sacking whoever your speech-making coach is? Who advised you to say the policy was the best thing for Nigeria at this time and in the same breath admit that if you were to be in their shoes, you would also have vigorously protested like the average Nigerian on the streets? What exactly was the strategy and its intended outcome? In the end it come across as diversionary, incoherent and lacking in emotional intelligence.
All the envoys you sent to town to try and douse tensions and offer explanations (how do you explain to a hungry, angry man-on-the-street who feels let down by his government and is not ready to listen to any ‘’big big grammar’’ until a return to (N65) status quo?) also failed woefully. Even if all they do at the weekly FEC meetings is back-slap and award contracts like some skeptics are wont to believe, couldn’t your ministers of Economic Planning and that of State for the Niger Delta have been coached before venturing to appear for TV interviews? If you have not been given a report, they displayed so much incompetence through obvious lack of confidence in/conviction about what they were advocating, coupled with a dearth of relevant information/data. In my opinion, those interviews only served to fuel the people’s anger. They might want to take a quick lesson in Knowing your Facts and Figures 101 from the former FCT minister now the darling of the Occupy Nigeria movement.

My third question concerns your political capital and personal goodwill, which got you elected as president last year.  Sir, do you realise that the word on the streets now is for you to resign or be impeached, coming from a people who less than a year ago, overwhelmingly (and emotionally too) voted for you on the strength of your ‘’I had no shoes’’ story and the promise preceding from the mouth of the first graduate, nay academic (someone snickers) to ever aspire to rule our dear nation? There is a third option being whispered, even among the elite, which even I dread to mention because of the goose pimples it brings to my body when I realise that however ‘’sensible’’ it may sound to the desperate and hurting right now, it is only bound to move this country back several decades, if only for the disdain it commands among the comity of decent nations. But not to worry sir, because, even though I saw an effigy of you hung on a stake on my BB today, the option I refer to is not your head on a platter, literarily speaking! Who is advising you on political strategy and possible (worst) case scenerios?

My next question is kind of personal. Since you preside over a very religious (note, not spiritual) nation, have you taken time out, far away from the maddening crowd of politics and its intrigues,  to search your soul  and, between you and your chi, think through on what really is the best line of action in this whole imbroglio, devoid of psychophant whispers and egotistic considerations? You are a Christian; have you considered that, like Esther in the bible, it is perhaps for such a time as this that God allowed you (without His sanction, no number of moneybags and ‘’bigwigs’’ could have won you the election, so stop believing that you owe them your victory in perpetual bondage!) to become President; and that He waits on you to burst out of your (perceived) timid shell and confront the principalities and power which seem bent on taking the throne from you through faulty counsel? Who is advising your soul sir: the seductive devil whispering into one ear, or the stern angel ministering the Word of truth into the other?

And lastly, Mr President, have you considered the end-game in all these? I mean the obviously sponsored and orchestrated state of insecurity and now the upheaval in the land due to subsidy removal. Does it not seem to you like the big idea is to distabilize the polity, discredit your policies, disgrace your person, dislodge your government and disinherit your legacies, thereby making it appear like you never passed through Aso Rock, or if at all your reign is remembered, it is remembered for all the wrong reasons, regardless of whatever good you have achieved?

Going by the pronouncements over the weekend of the House of Representatives dominated by members of your party the PDP (which your spokesman has been quick to label ‘’only advisory’’), do you not think that your popularity rating (oh, how I wish we had reliable independent polls in Nigeria!) and that of your party has dropped drastically, which could negatively affect your fortunes in subsequent elections, especially looking at the impressive gains made by the opposition in the last elections? Do you remember the scripture about a house divided against itself?

Yes, i know three years is a long time to recover lost ground in politics, and that your party is the largest in Africa (if I remember correctly though, majority of the electorate claimed to have voted for your person and not the brilliant!) but do you honestly think those internet images of various victims of police brutulization (and killing in some reported instances) of largely peaceful protesters are going to totally disappear before 2015, in such a way as not to affect your party’s next presidential candidate? Thank God you already promised not to run (or did you not) when the first democracy dividend of your fledgling administration –the one term of six years- is implemented in 2015; but would you not be leaving too much political baggage for the next guy?

Dear Mr President, i know my letter is so long, but being holed in the house all day must surely have its upside: for me, the chance to write a long letter, and for you, to read same. As a parting shot, have you ever considered the possibility of there existing (a) Fifth Columnist(s) within your camp?

I hope you find time in your busy schedule to pen me a reply, but if the busy schedule of State does not permit you, I would understand. Like I started out saying, I am a reasonable man.
Accept the assurances of my best regards (yes, I stole this line from a State document I once came across).

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Thank you

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