Stoking The Fires of Re-vo-lu-tion


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Stoking The Fires of Re-vo-lu-tion




Oluwagbemi Michael  II



January 26, 2005


An Open Letter to Chief Aremu Okikiola Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR; President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Feudal Republic of Nigeria


Dear Mr. President,


I know you must be surprised to get this from an ordinary citizen like me. Your surprise however would not spring from the impromptu nature of this citizenís feedback, but would be a familiar response to the unwarranted audaciousness of a bloody civilian like me, more so a young man living on less than one thousand naira a day. I mean, is it not your almighty Excellency that deposed the chairman of the Ďlongestí sorry largest political party in Africa? Is it not your eminence in his almighty wisdom that shouted down the Ijaw youths when they dared agitate to partake in the resources that is mined from their land? In no case, the only good thing that might come from this little piece of mind is one: and that is, I cannot be shouted down, neither can I be forced to resign from any jeun-jeun position under the threat of gun! Mr. President, for once you are powerless!


In order not to waste your Prominence time, my letter can be summarized in one word. Abeg Mr. President, let me digress a little bit. I am in now way trying to insult your intelligence by writing you an open letter. Even though your Majesty might not believe me, I mean no harm. In fact it is only because you donít have an accessible telephone number, otherwise I would have called. It might be because you live in a fortress like a man prisoner to his own conscience, otherwise I would have worked in. May be it is because you insult your critics, May be I would have written you a personal letter. Perhaps it is because I learnt you are not computer literate, otherwise your e-mail inbox would be flowing over tomorrow morning.


Not taking anything from you sir, you are a great Nigerian. Being the man who collected the instruments of surrender from the disgruntled Biafrans you qualify to be Nigerians Ulysses Grant. Perhaps you are. General Grant collected the instrument from the US confederates at Gettysburg and went on to become President. He presided over the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States three years after he succeeded the assassinated hero of the war- Abraham Lincoln. He was not directly responsible for corruption, but in his obsession to keep the nation one he looked away while gangs of supporters descended on the nationís treasury and looted it to stupor. Mr. President does this tale sound very familiar?


If it doesnít sound familiar may be like your counterpart in the United States, you just donít read the newspapers. Or may in your obstinate powerful position, your megalomaniac syndrome suddenly kicked in like epilepsy on the chronically ill patient! Or may be, you are like Nero that fiddled while Rome burned. Or perhaps you are like King Louis of France, the improbable trigger of the French Revolution. My message is simple, Mr. President you have triggered a revolution and you donít know it. May Prayer is that we both not be consumed and that is why I am expressing it through this medium.


After five years of majestic rule, your ears finally opened and you came t o your senses. Knowing fully well that you and many of my fellow countrymen are gerontocrats, my previous sentence is not an insult. After five years of misrule, first by a cabinet that has no clue because they are old recycled hands and then another that has no clue because thy are isolated academics that see reforms as a way to kill the masses and line their pockets, you finally see the need for political reform: but you made two fatal errors and the only way out of the error is in the four syllabic word: re-vo-lu-tion!


The first mistake you made was to assume those of us who think dialogue among our nationís constituents group was imperative to move this nation forward were trying to undo your imperial act of stamping unity by military force about three decades and a half ago. You though we were out to divide this great country of ours and thought you are more Nigerian than me. For your information Mr. President I was born after 1960, in an independent Federal Republic of Nigeria Ė my birth certificate (I am sure you donít have any) carries the eagle, white house and black shield with a Y Ė and I consider myself a thorough bred Nigerian that suffered under successive military dictatorship and was not born under the luxury of a foreign king or queen like you. So who are you to question my patriotism?


Moving on from your first mistake, assuming it was an oversight. You now had the gut to put together a meeting of the bribed and coerced to fashion out a fake national dialogue that would teleguided by the elites to produce result for the Elite Nigerian (definition: those who sack corporals for collecting twenty naira and keep one billion naira in new generation banks owned by the party financiers). At your meeting, they gave one-eighth of the delegates to their conference, after all they own Nigeria. They installed you in office anyway, so you cannot complain. Imagine the insult, a whole you having only one-eighth of the delegate. Mr. President how about one-half! How about a half of attendees of that meeting in jail- for pillaging the resources of our nation. I suspect the king with the gap tooth and the Prince with the grey beard were present- how about them? What proof of corruption do you need than a mere general building mansions and living above their means and wages? Mr. President how did you get money to invest initially in Otta Farm? Did you work for it? Mr. President how did Mr. Atiku makes so much money from being a customs chief- should I apply for one week?


My dear President, your two mistakes have opened you up to great danger. For one we see that you are not immune to outcries from the citizenry, for one we see that you cannot stand our whining. We might not be whining next time- may be you canít see the trend in the world. From the Velvet revolution in Hungary to the Rose Revolution in Georgia and finally to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine Ė the wind of colored revolution might soon sweep t he coast of West Africa- after all we are not all color blind! The color however might not be pleasing Ė it might be black and white and it might be red. The ball is in your court.


To avoid the hurricane that might soon sweep the land dear Baba Iyabo, you need to do one of two things. The first is simple; you did it a lot well before. You Bribe and maim. That would do the magic. But it is not a final solution Ė you would be consumed by your own device and we might end up at your nigh side like that man with the dark goggles. The second is very hard; you need to start dealing honestly with Nigerians. We now know you fraudulently became our imperial leader- you even had to cheat in your own home state to win. Haba!


To deal honestly means to hold a truly independent national conference of stakeholders that would craft a peopleís constitution. The first step to take is to make a speech to the nation promptly admitting your error and oversight. The next step is to constitute a committee of academics Ė one versed in the field of sociology, anthropology and Nigerian history that would examine the ethic make up of our nation; to each group determined to be an ethnic nationality shall one delegate be anointed- Hausa or Isoko, big or small- every ethic group shall have one representative. The second committee of political scientists and eminent politicians shall determine the political interests competing for space in the national conference. This should include labor union, student movement, political parties, women group, civil society, states, local government, federal government, entrenched voices of reasons, immigrant population, Nigerians in Diaspora, academics as well as any other grouping of significant contribution to the national stratosphere. In order to ensure balance and national unity, the number of ethnic nationalities that would be represented should be equally balanced out by these political stakeholders.


It is important that the President realize the importance of this exercise and should ensure grassroots dialogues especially in the process leading up to appointing delegates representing the various ethnic nationalities. It is best to look forward to a situation where multiple grassroots conference produce various documents that harmonizes the position of these various ethnic groups and mandates their representative to agitate for those positions clarified in these documents. Also, leading up to the conference an aggressive policy of grassroots mobilization and protocol that would guarantee the representation of conference member as they produce the nations constitution should be provided: in this case, the national conference should be televised and special sessions that allow citizens to air their positions via satellite, e-mail or telephone directly to delegates on specific issues should be allowed.


Mr. President, you must have been overwhelmed by the details I have given you. But you know it all already (Mr. President is I too know) and I am sure you would be able to digest this citizenís advice without prejudice or hatred. I love my country and I know you love Nigeria too. But you see I am different, I am the least beneficiary of the present arrangement and you are the biggest beneficiary of this awkward arrangement where the dumbest, most corrupt and the worst rule our nation! You are not the worst, but I certainly know my country can do better. You have ruled my nation twice, and the most by any single person in her history: you are the product of a system that is endemically corrupt and wasteful and requires change immediately. May God help us on the way to Revolution or willful change of mind on your mind!


Nigeria we hail thee.





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