By Timi Frank
I write this letter to you, Mr. President, with all sincerity and humility, as it is my very first letter to you since your emergence as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of our great country, Nigeria.
I would first of all like to use this opportunity to formally apologise to the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for all the tantrums and mistreatment orchestrated by me against his person while he held sway at the helm of affairs of our great country.
Indeed, I and many others may have misunderstood Jonathan’s silence for weakness and thus pushed harder to malign his person and portray him as a weak leader. Having achieved the Change Agenda, it is now crystal clear, that the change we had clamoured for is not the change we got.
While this may have come as a rude shock to some of us who preached the change mantra assiduously, particularly the youth, I am consoled by the fact that, Nigeria shall get to the promise land someday and our generations yet unborn will appreciate the genuine efforts made by those of us who stood on the path of truth, rather than being praise singers sycophants.
Mr. President, I am sure that the current state of our dear country should be a cause of genuine concern, as the symptoms of the ailment you had come to cure seem to have morphed into a killer virus waiting to consume its patient (Nigeria) as the clock ticks away.
The damning assessment of Nigeria under your leadership as released by the United States Department of State in its 2017 country reports on Human Rights, cited impunity as being widespread at all levels of government and lack of transparency by your administration. The report noted that massive corruption by government officials and security agencies is on the rise with most perpetrators being shielded from trial, thus giving room for reckless practices with impunity. The report stated that, “although the law provides for criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity…massive, widespread and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”
Today there is hardship everywhere with the price of fuel now N145 per as against the N85 that it was being sold when you assumed office – the over N1.4trillion already paid by your government as fuel subsidy notwithstanding. You will agree with me, Mr. President, that a report of this magnitude coming from a foreign government should be a cause for serious concern as it posits that your Anti-Corruption Agenda is merely a hoax. Furthermore, your famous slogan of “belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody” has turned out to be a mere Public Relations gimmick, meant to soothe the egos of the spectators that were present at your historic swearing-in-ceremony.
Other assessment cited by the report include the extra judicial killing of IPOB members, Col. Sambo Dasuki’s continuous incarceration, widespread human rights abuses and flagrant disregard for the Rule of Law, under this administration.
You will recall, Mr. President, that a similar report from the Transparency International (TI) was rubbished by your Ministers who claimed the global body was biased in its assessment. Surely, both agencies could not have conspired to tarnish the reputation of your government, as Nigerians can also decipher the high partiality and nepotism being practised by your government, which represents a new low in the history of governance in Nigeria.
I would therefore recommend that your Special Adviser on Media and Publicity should grab a copy of THISDAY Newspaper of Tuesday, 24 April 2018 and perhaps brief you further on the report, in the event that the content of the report has not been brought to your attention.Mr. President, it may also interest you to know that the economy under your watch has been terribly battered, with all the economic indices indicating that we are yet to recover from the recession of 2016, owing to your ill conceived policies as against the rhetoric of the erstwhile administration being responsible for our woes.
The GDP growth before you took over government and three years after being in the saddle of governance attests to woeful failure of government policies while gambling with the nation’s economic gains. The high unemployment and poverty rate as released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) should be a cause of concern to any well-meaning Nigerian, as the masses can barely survive with their current meagre income which leaves them with little or no savings to embark on other meaningful economic ventures to better their lot.
Furthermore sir, I am sure that you’re aware that the level of insecurity in the country now has reached an all time high with an average of at least 50 deaths weekly to the bewilderment of the an already wearied population, whose hopes are dashed on a daily basis. Only last week over 120 persons were kidnapped along the Birnin-Gwari Road in Kaduna State. The farmers/herders crises has continued to claim precious lives as if the nation is in a state of war. Moreover, the statement credited to you that the killer herdsmen were trained by the late Moumar Gadaffi of Libya is most unfortunate as nothing is being done to police the borders in order to prevent them from coming in as well as declaring a state of emergency on these murderous killers.
More so, the statement credited to former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma came as another rude shock to Nigerians on the state of our security architecture in the nation, not also forgetting the statements attributed to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, reemphasising, that the government under your watch has failed Nigerians.
Surely, the opinions of your comrades cannot all be a farce, but rather a wakeup call to your administration that all is indeed not well with the nation. This is why I dare say that a re-election bid in the wake of this wanton killings and widespread sacrilege in the land, is definitely not the right thing to do at this time in a country engulfed with so much bloodletting. Permit me to say that as things stand today, Nigeria, under your government, has become increasingly autocratic.
Instead of enhancing freedom and rule of law, our democratic gains are being frittered away under the pretext of fighting corruption. The rights to freedom of speech and association are increasingly being denied. People can no longer freely express themselves without security agencies harassing, accusing, arresting, parading, and prosecuting them like common criminals over spurious allegations.
I dare say that I am by this letter offering myself to pay whatever price it will take for Nigeria to be free once again. I know your goons will soon come after me but I am not bothered a bit. I will continue to speak the truth. I spoke the truth when Jonathan, my kinsman, was in power and I will continue to speak the truth. Be that as it may, the truth is that you have destroyed our democracy so much so that Nigerians are now living in fear.
Under your tenure the rule of law has been replaced with the rule of force. You have injected fear into the society. People who voted for you to save them from corruption and ineptitude have been barred from speaking up against the myriads of evil and wicked acts being perpetrated by officials in your government.
Unfortunately, corruption is in the upward swing under your watch. This is why I had to apologize to Jonathan since events of the last three years have shown the former President was a better leader. People freely expressed themselves under Jonathan’s administration without fear of being branded cultists’ sponsors, gunrunners or aiding murderers. But not so under this administration.
Under Jonathan, Nigerians enjoyed freedom of speech, association and right to hold dissenting views including organizing and partaking in protests against unwelcome government policies. All these are no go areas today. Does it mean Jonathan was a better democrat? It is a fact that no member of the APC which was then in the opposition before 2015 was jailed or harassed for expressing dissent.
However, under this administration, the Senate President is being persecuted, Senator Dino Melaye has been arrested and detained like a common criminal, Senator Matthew Urhroghide had been attached for telling Nigerians that the Federal Government breached the Constitution by paying the sum of $496million for 12 Tucano fighter jets without National Assembly approval; the trial of Senator Isa Misau by the AGF over his face-off with the Inspector General of Police, the persecution of most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the name of fighting corruption are all examples of intolerance under this administration.
Mr. President, while your fight against corruption is being promoted as gathering steam leading to an award given to you by the African Union (AU) recently, the allegation of illegal award of $25billion contracts leveled against the GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has not been investigated but rather the malfeasance and shoddy dealing in the NNPC has been swept under the carpet because as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources any probe of the agency will require that you make some explanations.
This government has shown total disdain for court pronouncements and the enforcement of fundamental human rights of citizens. El-Zakzaky and Dasuki will not be in jail today but for the present rule of force under this government. It is a pity that today democracy and freedom have become scarce. Insecurity continues unabated. Killings take place on a daily basis across the country either by kidnappers, Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen, and other criminal elements having a free reign around the country. Life has become worthless and uncertain and people cannot speak out for fear of being labeled anti-government by your regime. Besides, instead of heeding the wise counsel of leaders like Obasanjo, IBB, TY. Danjuma, General Gowon, and religious leaders like Bakare and Oyedepo, you have again declared to seek reelection as President. You even boasted in Bauchi that you will be reelected which was akin to saying you will rig yourself back into office.
The worse acts of corruption are being perpetuated under your regime, but people are keeping quiet because of fear of reprisals. This cannot continue. You met Democracy and freedom in 2015, when you leave office, there will still be democracy and freedom for the people. Nigeria will not end with you. Before you, others came, but today where are they? Under this regime, the homes of Honourabe Justices were forcefully broken into and ransacked. Many of them were suspended and are currently being prosecuted by agents of the executive. If this is not intimidation of the highest order what is it?
Despite immunity conferred in him by the Constitution, the home of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State was raided. The Governor of Rivers State had to approach the courts for an injunction to forestall a similar treatment being meted on him. Is it not curious that Senator Shehu Sani and Dino Melaye have been framed up as being connected to criminal murder suspects just because they politically differ with their state governors? It is not also true that Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State are now being roped into the case of alleged cultists and murder suspects arrested in Ilorin? If this is not harassment, intimidation and humiliation of perceived opponents of your administration, then what is it?
Don’t forget that the Senate led by Saraki has been in a ding-dong with the Inspector General of Police for refusing to honour the legitimate summons of the upper chamber. The plot to once again implicate Saraki in murder activities using alleged cult members earlier arrested in Kwara State is a new low in the antics of this administration to harass, intimidate and humiliate members of the opposition especially those of the defunct New PDP arm of the APC.
The recent attack on the Rivers State Judiciary, the invasion of the Senate and forceful theft of its mace without arrests or word of condemnation by you make the security situation worse and worrisome.
The vehemence with which members of the opposition and the New PDP arm of the APC are being persecuted makes one to wonder why close aides of yours and other high officials in this administration with criminals allegations against them are not equally being prosecuted.
Are you no longer for everybody and belong to nobody? What is good for PDP and New PDP members ought to be good for members of the CPC, ACN, ANPP and a faction of APGA in the APC as well. The reality is that members of the APC are sacred cows that can do no wrong.This growing intolerance, repression and coercion against innocent citizens has led me to the painful resolve to once again offer myself as a sacrificial lamb to pay the price for Nigeria’s total emancipation from the shackles of tyranny being perpetuated by your government.
I therefore, urge all Nigerians to wake up and face the current realities and save Nigeria from total collapse under the jackboots of impunity by this administration. History will not be fair to me if I had championed the campaigns against former President Jonathan and now remain silent in the face of anti-democratic tendencies and sheer impunity.
It is my sincere hope that this letter meets you well. I also hope that my outburst will not be seen from the angle of disrespect, but rather of despair and urgency. I believe it is high time for you, as the President and Commander-In-Chief to arrest the situation and restore peace, security and rule of law in the country and confidence in the people once more.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
With best regards
Comrade Timi Frank
Deputy National Publicity Secretary All Progressives Congress