Sunday, April 12, 2009

Letter to President Umaru Yar'Adua

Your Excellency,

I hope this letter finds you in good health.

Firstly, I will like to commiserate with you on the exclusion of Nigeria from the last G20 meeting. I am happy that you expressed your disappointment at the exclusion of a country of 140 million people and sixth largest producer of the world’s ‘most sought after’ commodity, from such an important gathering. However, let me be quick to point out that, the greatness of a nation is not just dependent on its population size or mineral resources, and neither is it dependent on cosmetic re-branding programme.

Your Excellency, you will agree with me that it’s been almost two years since your assumption of office. While there has been no tangible developmental progress been made by your administration, it is unfortunate that we are now beginning to talk about your ‘second term’ in office.

Sir, I agree that as a Nigerian citizen, you have the right seek a second term in office. I also acknowledge that you have not come openly to confirm or deny the current media speculations. However some of your closest aides have made it a point of duty to start the 2011 Presidential campaign on your behalf. But before you make a decision, there is an important question you need to ask yourself. Do I really understand the complexity of challenges facing the country?

Sir, following my review of your first two years in office, I am convinced beyond every doubt that you do not understand the challenges of your office. Just as the Americans will say. “You just don’t get it”. And if you can’t get it in two years, what makes us think you will in eight years.

I remember all the rhetoric about ‘rule of law’, vision 2020, seven-point agenda when you came into office. The only thing this administration has been successful at doing is reversing all policies of the previous administration. Your government has been stuck in reverse gear for the past two years. You spent seven months to re-constitute your cabinet, within which there was approximately three months of inaction in government ministries, department and agencies. Two years on, your administration is still ‘fart-assing’ around with the Lagos-Kano rail modernisation project. You still don’t have a blue-print for energy sector, the refineries are still not working, you are still talking about highway concessions. How many years of planning do you actually need?

It was interesting to read the comments of one of your closest aides, that the seven-point agenda has been designed to be implemented in eight years. And that you need two years of planning, and six years of implementation, hence the need for a second term. Haba!

If indeed you need two years of planning, then I want to believe that you were never ‘ready’ for the position you currently occupy. And in your case, I want to blame the wicked and callous farmer from Otta, who saddled you with this responsibility. Nobody can be forced into the office of a President, especially in a complex nation like Nigeria. Serious presidential candidates have plans and programmes before they assume office. They undertake series of research into the workings of the government during their campaign. They identify where they can make ‘quick wins’. They develop of list of programmes they will implement in their first 100 days in office. They set targets and benchmark for measuring their success in office. I’m not saying a presidential candidate should be a ‘jack of all trade’, but that is why they appoint intelligent advisers, who x-ray each government departments and help develop policies.

Some of the decisions you have made recently, has highlighted the handicap that exists in your administration. There is an ‘information gap’ within the current government. Mr President, for me, it seems that you lack information on key challenges you are trying to solve. As an example, you announced that you intend generate 6,000MW of electricity before the end of 2009. However, you have failed to tell us how this will be done. You shouldn’t be telling us this after two years in office. An informed President comes into office with mapped out strategy. If President Obama is to spend two years to study America’s problems, then the whole of the US will be sleeping on the streets before then. Nigeria needs a President that will hit the ground running. The challenges facing Nigeria does not require a President that will learn on the job. For goodness sake, been the Governor of Katsina for eight years does not make you an informed person. I’m sorry to say, your actions recently has shown an utter display of ignorance.

I also want to query your judgment in the recent sacking of NNPC Directors. I’m not sure if you read the recent article of Dr Patrick Dele Cole in Guardian Newspaper 6 April 2009 and 7 April 2009. This was the most shocking indictment of the NNPC I have read in my life. I found it interesting that the NNPC Directors were sacked the day after the articles were published. While the nation is dire need of such actions, I can’t seem to understand why the sacked Directors were quickly replaced by their subordinates. These are the same people that have failed to bring any integrity and accountability into the NNPC. Mr President, we need a change from the status quo. Institutions such as the NNPC, NRC are not ‘fit for purpose’, and are in need of thorough cleansing.

I do hope you will take these issues very seriously. While you have a right to seek a second term, it is not a birthright. I understand the enormous power at the disposal of the incumbent in Nigerian politics. The Nigerian Presidency demands more than a ‘good man’. We do not want to be held hostage for another six years of your administration.

Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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