Open Letter To President Buhari -By Labaran Yusuf

Filed under: Letters |

First and foremost, I will like to congratulate you Sir on your successful re-election as Nigeria’s president for another four-year term – from a poll seen by many as an endorsement of your administration and a referendum on honesty by the Nigerian masses.  

Mr. President, a lot has happened to the country of the almost four years you’ve been in power. Several successes, as well as setbacks, have been recorded. Your administration may well be credited with revamping of the nation’s dying infrastructure despite slow economic growth and low oil revenue. Key achievements in the power and agricultural sectors have also been documented, even as a high level of youth unemployment and poverty among the masses continue to pose a great challenge to the country’s growth and development.

With due respect Sir, even though high level and brazen corruption might have significantly been reduced under your watch, I can assure you that corrupt practices including allocation of public resources to political allies, misuse and diversion of public funds, favoritism in recruitment exercises are still common and prevalent. What is more saddening is the fact that we continue to hear stories of people losing job appointments just because their names were replaced at the last minute with those of “well-connected” candidates, people having to pay an advance fee before they are attended to at hospitals or admitted into higher institutions and reports of policemen shooting people to death because of bribes among others. I believe this should never be happening in 21st Nigeria. 

On security Your Excellency, in spite of the degradation of Boko Haram and recapturing of several areas under the group’s control, the war against insurgency is far from over, as the militant group continues to carry out deadly attacks on targets in the north-east. The rampaging activities of armed bandits in the north-west and continual clashes between herders and farmers in the middle part of the country that have escalated over the past two years are of great concern. Innocent lives and properties are been lost unnecessarily. Increase in crime activity nationwide is at alarming rates. Kidnappers and armed robbers now have a free day on certain highways.

The health and education sectors are also in shambles, Mr. President. Patients continue to die because of a lack of services in hospitals and inadequate medicine. Millions of children that are supposed to be in classrooms are out of school – roaming uncontrollably on the streets – as they cannot afford the most basic education. With decaying infrastructure, tertiary institutions still go on strike for months. And at the end, the half-baked graduates they produced turn to criminal activities to survive because of lack of job opportunities in the country. Some even risk their lives in attempts to reach Europe. Those not so lucky die in the Mediterranean Sea while others that survive are sold as slaves or forced into prostitution and drug trafficking.

Mr. President Sir, I enjoin you make this your second and final term a prosperous and transformative one, such that its legacy will be remembered by Nigerians for generations to come, even if you’re no more around. By saying this, I recall how nostalgic some people feel of your glorious days at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and the noticeable infrastructural development it brought to numerous parts of the country.

To achieve this, Your Excellency, be relentless in your fight against the nation’s treasury parasites – no matter how placed and connected they might be. The fight against all forms of corruption – grand, political, and administrative – in all sectors must be won, against all odds, for the survival of the country. Nigeria must never remain a limping giant.  

As several Nigerians have called for, your cabinet should be inclusive and vibrant. I will like to suggest you use the template of the second Islamic Caliph, Umar Bn Khattab, one of the rightful successor of the prophet Muhammad, in choosing your cabinet. During his reign as leader of the Muslims, a period characterized by justice and equality, Umar appointed only experienced and qualified people into his government. With his deep sense of responsibility, the simplistic and humble Umar goes for the best in choosing people who will represent him. It is with this I believe you too should pick from competent and trustworthy individuals – across the diverse and talented men and women we have in this country.

Your administration attempts at diversifying the country’s oil-dependent economy into other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and maritime should be given important focus, as this would serve as the fulcrum for Nigeria’s growth and development in the near future when oil will no longer be seen as an essential commodity in the world.

The case of Almajiranci and out-of-school children should also be given a thorough review. Every child has the right to basic education. And it is responsibility of the government to ensure this is achieved.

Finally, never forget those that died while trying to catch a glimpse of you; the old men and women who call you Baba, and who despite their old age and weak bodies spend hours under the hot sun to see their votes goes to you; and the optimistic youths that spend the night celebrating your victory. They believe their future and that of their children is secured under you.

The average Nigerian wants a good and affordable health care system, education, roads, power, clean and safe drinking water, employment opportunities – in a safe and corrupt-free country, where the rule of law prevails over impunity. These are modest and attainable demands, Mr. President.

I pray that God see you through as you steer the country to the next level you promised – for Nigeria’s problems are many and complex.

Labaran Yusuf is freelance writer and researcher based in Jos, Plateau State.

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