Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country this week after spending more than three months in the United Kingdom being treated for an undisclosed illness. His short, pre-recorded speech upon arrival did little to address the many concerns of the Nigerian people at this time - at least according to this author.
This open letter is necessitated by issues of urgent national importance not unconnected with your 3 minute pre-recorded broadcast to Nigerians this Monday, the 21st day of August, 2017, where you stated that Nigeria's unity is settled and not negotiable.
Mr. President, sir, I wasn't exactly born with a talent for political correctness so I like to assume your permission to pay you the courtesy of being blunt.
First, I want to register my displeasure that you, a mere servant and employee of the Nigerian people, could derisively address your employers and the same people paying your salaries even when you are hardly at work, as "my dear citizens" instead of "my fellow citizens."
That derisive opening line in your speech lent more credence to an already established fact that you are an arrogant victim of a messiah complex who sees his people, not as his employers whose wishes he must harken to, but as lesser mortals and slaves who are his to do as he pleases. Even Emperor Nero didn't address Romans in that condescending manner.
Mr. President, sir, we are not your citizens. We are not even just your fellow citizens! We are your employers! We are your boss! We pay your bills. We feed you, Mr. President. Talk to us with some respect!
Mr. President, when you told us how you discussed with Ojukwu in 2003 and agreed that Nigeria's unity is non-negotiable, what exactly did you think the reference to the late Biafra strong man would achieve?
Did you think that line would magically address all the institutionalized grave injustices in the system which you've made worse with your open display of tribal bigotry, vindictiveness, raw hatred for people from a particular section of the country and criminal disregard for the same constitution you swore to protect??
That you believe the unity of over 180 million people is something you, a Fulani man and Ojukwu, an Igbo man, can sit in your small sitting room somewhere in your small village of Daura and conclusively discuss, says a whole lot about how much value you attach to the so-called unity.
As a free citizen of a free world and one of those paying your salaries, I find that statement criminally offensive and hopelessly disappointing. But even more disappointing is the fact that even after spending billions of our tax money and over 100 days treating an undisclosed ailment abroad, you seem not to have learnt anything from your numerous administrative blunders and trailer load of un-presidential utterances, actions and inactions which, for the most part, are responsible for the mess we are in today.
Mr. President, sir, let me remind you that it was you - not Nnamdi Kanu - who resuscitated and fuelled the current Biafra agitation. Even the activities of the Niger Delta militants were all birthed by your tact-less, bigoted, vindictive and mostly common-sensically bankrupt utterances and actions.
And to prove that you are an unteachable ethnic jingoist with an iniquitous sense of national unity and an atrocious sense of governance, all through your 3 minute address:
You didn't tell your employers the kind of ailment that kept you away from your duty post for over 100 days and gulped billions of tax payers' money.
You didn't announce measures to resuscitate the economy which your criminal ineptitude and analogue economic plans largely played a part in destroying.
You didn't mention measures you plan on taking towards addressing the grievances of the secessionist groups even when you admitted some of their grievances are genuine.
You didn't make any assurances towards calming frayed nerves considering the mood of the country.
You didn't categorically condemn the series of terror your fulani brethren are visiting on Nigerians. Instead, you played it down as mere herdsmen/farmers clashes.
You didn't even categorically condemn your siblings (Arewa Youths) for publicly threatening genocide on Igbos living in the North come October 1st, 2017.
You did none of the above.
Instead, you spent almost 50% of your broadcast threatening social media users and aggrieved citizens who are only asking you to treat them as equal stake-holders in the Nigeria project or allow them quit this oppressive union. The other 50% was wasted on tales about your meeting with Ojukwu where the duo of you supposedly decided on behalf of over 180 million of us that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.
In a nutshell, you spent over 100 days abroad on medical tourism on tax payers' money against your campaign promises only to come back with nothing but a trailer-load of insults, derision and threats for the same citizens who paid and are still paying all your hospital bills and salaries even when you were hardly doing any job?
Quite frankly, Mr. President, that speech would easily pass off as one hell of comedy except it was a tragedy.
You've simply proven that you are a man far detached from reality. It would seem you are still stuck in 1985. Indeed, a leopard never changes its skin.
Now, my dear president, as one of your employers, let me gift you with some advice:
First, Nigeria is not a nation unless we've all decided to adopt a very confused and lopsided understanding of the term "nation". More importantly, our unity as a people is a farce. It doesn't exist. You cannot discuss the negotiability or non-negotiability of a unity that only exist in your imagination.
How can there be unity when you, Mr. President, went to a foreign land and publicly promised to discriminate against those who didn't vote you with your infamous 97%-5% speech?
Where is the unity when you were busy gifting Boko Haram terrorists and the marauding herdsmen with a juicy amnesty package and military protection respectively at the exact time you were, and still are, visiting the unarmed Biafra agitators with festival of bullets?
Most importantly, Mr. President, mentioning "unity" and "non-negotiable" in the same sentence betrays a very poor appreciation of the queen's language. If it's unity, then the powers that bind the parties together must have been birthed through negotiations. In which case, any talk about the non-negotiability of such unity becomes the height of conscientious idiocy bordering on the fringes of lunacy. If it's unity that was a product of force, then it's no unity at all.
Mr. President, sir, the clause "our unity is non-negotiable" is an oxymoronic expression.
You cannot threaten people of diverse cultural, religious and language background into nationhood!!!!
Unity cannot be forced!
On your threats to agitators, Mr. President, you proved you lack basic understanding of what the issues are. It is not just the southeast that is aggrieved, both the south south, south west and even the North, your own region, are all aggrieved as exemplified by the October 1st quit notice and threat of genocide against Igbos living in the North. Every section of the country is aggrieved. Rather than proving you are too bloodthirsty for dialogue, initiate a workable time-bound plan towards restructuring this country in such a way to enthrone justice, fairness, equity and merit.
Restructure this British contraption now!
Watch the whole country collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions.
The fastest way of escalating an agitation is by trying to suppress it rather than addressing the issues that birthed it.
Mr. President, sir, I am not unaware of the fact that in the coming days, we are going to be witnessing more killing of the unarmed pro-Biafra agitators and series of arrests, abduction and incarceration targeted at social media users and your political opponents but I have a message for you, sir, just as we survived your brutality between 31 December 1983 to 27th August 1985.
We Will Survive You!
This, too, shall pass!
I wish you exactly what you wish Nigerians.
* CHARLES OGBU a Nigerian affairs analyst writing from Port Harcourt.