Nigeria at 61: A Letter to Mr President *by Olufemi Aduwo

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Comrade Olufemi Aduwo

 

Dear President, it gives me pleasure to send Your Excellency my congratulations on the celebration of our lndependence Day, on the 61st anniversary. I extend my best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the government and people of Nigeria in the coming year.

 

Mr President, in my letter written to you in 2018 which l delivered the copy at your Chief of Staff’s office before it was published by Tribune and ThisDay newspapers, l wrote and let me quote again, relevant paragraphs from it.

 

 

“Mr President, the game so beloved by the Nigerian political elite is going toward what is known in football as injury time. As all soccer fanatics know, it is indeed the most critical moment, distinguished by anxiety and acute uncertainty. Within the twinkling of an eye, anything can go wrong and invariably, things do go wrong. Carefully laid down plans do go up in smoke. The players themselves with tired limbs, declining vision and deteriorating coordination, look towards the referees for early deliverance since events have conspired to make it impossible to settle for a draw, and a clear winner must emerge; it is this fleeting moment that determines whether the match will end in penalty shoot-out or the phenomenon known as “sudden death”.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

This is the moment that has stolen upon us. As the country lurches and staggers from one crisis to another, as one measure is hurriedly abandoned for even more inept solutions, as the rule of law is recklessly abandoned at all levels of government for rule of man, it is clear that we are faced with what is known as an “organic crisis”. Nations are also like human beings and when an affliction becomes terminal, when suffering is unbearably acute, when human misery is so stark and remorseless, it is time to consider the virtues of euthanasia.

 

Looking through the glass, the insurgency, banditry, lPOB and herdsmen crisis, the high level of corruption and looting across government’s MDAs, it is glaring that we have in our hands a classic recipe for organic crisis. That is why we must talk. Regardless of the centrifugal forces that may be pulling Mr President in different directions, restructuring of the country is not negotiable. Our history is not our enemy but the way we deal or not with our history could be our enemy. A country that has not really faced its past cannot decide on her future.

 

Mr. President, as you are aware, there is no country on the face of the earth whose citizens do not desire a government that respects the basic principles of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom from arbitrary intimidation and arrest and the rule of law which is the life-blood of democracy. We all witnessed the event in Northern part of Africa few years ago and what is going on in Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, Chile, lran and other countries in the world today. This bears eloquent testimony to the fact that the forces of democracy cannot be chained for too long and certainly not forever. People want to be empowered, respected and they want good life, hope and opportunity to live their dreams. Let me repeat; people will agitate, regardless of the brutal forces against them.

 

Fellow Nigerians, DON’T GIVE UP. On the journey of discovery, life throws almost all of its arsenal at you to see if you can stand on your own or give up along the way, but it all boils down to the choice of what we as individuals want to do. It is these choices that make or break us. This singular event comes as no surprise when it relates to how we feel when trying to achieve our dreams and aspirations as time flies by, especially if you have determined that you have to achieve this before a certain age. For some people, age brings along a sense of gratification that you have done the best you can, while for a set of people, it brings about depression and a sense of urgency to put all the eggs in a basket, however perilous it might be.

 

I guess the question everyone wants answered, both old and young, is “have I really done the best I can?” Getting this answer is tough because this is one of the major questions we would continue to ask ourselves till the day we die.

 

The Nigeria of my dreams is a Nigeria that is just, caring and democratic. The search for this ideal is not an unrealistic excursion into the sunset of blind idealism and unguarded ambition. l search and long for a Nigeria where we can be one another’s keepers not necessarily because we worship in the same church or mosque. Our search must be anchored on the belief that our nation is one big road between the Jericho of fear and anxiety and the promise of a Jerusalem of peace, justice and love.

 

In between, there are hills and valleys, sharp bends and rocks inhabited by dangerous charlatans. On this road, we must beg for the eyes to enable us recognize the difference between good and bad, between peace and war, between freedom and slavery, between justice and injustice.

 

Once again, Happy lndependence Anniversary.

 

-Olufemi Aduwo is president, Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity(CCDI) in Nigeria and United States, Permanent Representative of CCDI to United Nations.