By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
After 15 years of uninterrupted democracy, it is important on this august occasion of May 29, 2014, to write this special letter on how to rescue our dear nation from the hands of unprepared and clueless leadership piloting the affairs of our nation at the moment which, if not checked, may collapse this country in line with earlier predictions by United States of America, and other prophets of doom.
In this regard, I write this open letter to the leaders of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), through the following indefatigable leaders of our party: Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Senator Bukola Saraki, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
This letter is addressed to you G7 based on your individual merits and most outstanding leadership roles each of you played in what APC is today. Of the major characters within our party you G7 were selected for this letter. But for avoidance of doubt, His Excellency Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, apart from leading the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to the amalgamation, is the national leader of the party and cannot be ignored in this type of letter because the part he played in what APC is today can’t be over-emphasised. Same goes for His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, who led the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to the party, while Ogbonnaya Onu led the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). The importance of Atiku Abubakar in the party, being one of the leading lights, is very obvious. Bukola Saraki leads the National Assembly caucus; Amaechi is the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum while Owelle Rochas Okorocha leads the APC Governors’ Forum.
The fact remains that Nigeria is currently at the cross road, confused and not knowing what tomorrow portends, occasioned by the visionless and misguided leadership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre. Today, we have a government that cannot protect or guarantee our security as contained in our constitution. According to Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, “This is a government which is not only in denial mentality, but in denial about certain obvious steps to take… It’s one of those rather child-like situations that if you shut your eyes, if you don’t exhibit the tactile evidence of the missing humanity here, that somehow the problem will go away” – A Government that have succeeded in making us a mockery before the international community and African leaders, which major achievements are trumatising, transforming Nigeria into darkness and digitalizing corruption to such a level where a whopping sum of $10 million can be said to have developed wings and unaccounted for. A government where a minister spends a whopping sum of $10 million on hiring of planes for movements, both private and official, while Nigerians are wallowing in poverty. It is based on this unacceptable state and the fear of the future of our country that makes this letter imperative.
Apart from the above, I was motivated to alert the leadership of APC through this medium as I may not be privileged to attend the caucus or NEC meeting, where crucial issues affecting the future of the party shall be tabled and discussed. Besides, as a stakeholder in the project Nigeria and having played a great role as National Publicity Secretary of the nPDP, a major component of the present APC, I am stimulated not only by my patriotic consideration but encouraged by John F. Kennedy, one of the greatest presidents of America, who said: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” No doubt in this crucial time of our history, PDP has messed up our country. The party has deviated from the democratic path it was founded on and has become a mockery of democratic principles. If some patriotic Nigerians do not rally around each other to ease out this party come 2015, then it will be an understatement to say that Nigeria is doomed and has no future under PDP after 2015. But God forbid!
I am also aware that it was because of the visionless leadership of PDP that brought up the amalgamation of other opposition political parties to form what is today known as the All Progressives Congress. As I commend and congratulate all the people and forces behind the formation of this great party, let me state that if Nigeria is not rescued from the maladministration of PDP come 2015, to some of us, all the efforts in forming APC would have become an exercise in futility.
For leading Nigeria to its present comatose state, one cannot be far from the truth if one says that President Goodluck Jonathan is a colossal failure in terms of his leadership of our nation. This view is shared by many Nigerians and some key actors of world politics.
For example, Dr Peregrino Brimah, after the Jos bombings of Tuesday, May 20, 2014 which claimed more than 200 lives, according to latest counts, have pushed Nigeria to formally occupy the first position in the ranking of nations with the worst governments in history. He went further to present other criteria which recently moved Nigeria up the list as follows:
A recent World Bank report listed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world. A report from the World Bank in April listed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, with the largest number of people said to live on less than $1.25 a day. The others are India, China, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Jonathan instead of addressing the issue on poverty as raised casually dismissed the report by saying: Nigeria is not a poor country.
The rebasing of Nigeria’s economy, setting Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa, while revealing the true economic position of Africa’s largest nation, simultaneously re-certified Nigeria as the nation in the top position for worst leadership in social welfare and opportunities for the people. With 70 per cent of the nation living under a-dollar-a-day, economically factored, Nigeria has the poorest people of any nation in the world today. With the rebased economy rating, Nigeria has the most unparalleled HDI (Human Development Index) to revenue and economy ratio of all nations. Poorest people in the Nigeria case, is derived from or correlates with poorest leadership.
Is it not surprising that Nigeria, at the end of 2013, surpassed Mexico in kidnapping, recording the cruelest and second highest single abduction events in recent history. By the end of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, Nigeria surpassed Syria, Libya, Iraq and Central African Republic (CAR) in deadly acts of terrorism and sectarian violence. The Nyanya bombing was ranked the fifth worst bombing of its kind in world history, post 1970, by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI). The Jos bombing, with over 200 reported dead in one attack, is second only to 9/11 and the disputed Syria chemical weapons attack.
In combined values, with about 80,000 people killed in four years of largely unchecked Boko Haram violence, and with over 4,000 killed in the first quarter of 2014 alone, Nigeria has fast outpaced other nations of the world in deadly terror. Nigeria’s leadership in December of 2013 secured the world’s top position in insecurity and failure to protect life and discourage terror. Current rankings put Nigeria’s leadership second only to Hitler, after surpassing Saddam Hussein, in the current century, in terms of deliberate internal wastage of life.”
With Nigeria’s leadership admitting that they could not account for up to or more than $20 billion oil revenue earnings discovered missing in a single 18-month period examined; the nation’s finance minister admitting this to BBC and the official government engagement of Price Waterhouse, an international accounting firm, which further confirmed this financial mishap, Nigeria secured its position as the most haplessly and a ver unserious nation.
According to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, in separate events in New York City, said the Nigerian government under President Goodluck Jonathan squandered its oil resources, and indirectly helps corruption to fester in the troubled country. Her words: “They have squandered their oil wealth; they have allowed corruption to fester, and now they are losing control of parts of their (own) territory because they would not make hard choices.” The former U.S. Secretary of State at the function organised by the International Crisis Group also emphasized that: “The Nigerian government has failed to confront the threat, or to address the underlying challenges. Most of all, the government of Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens, and ensuring that every child has the right and opportunity to go to school.”
While to Sarah Saawall, US Under Secretary of State, “Corruption prevents supplies as basic as bullets and transport vehicles from reaching the front lines of the struggle against Boko Haram”.
A new report on global life expectancy by the World Health Organisation has rated Nigeria low in its report titled “World Health Statistics 2014” and published few days ago, life expectancy for both men and women is less than 55 years in nine sub-Saharan African countries namely: Nigeria, Angola, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. The yearly report is the definitive source of information on the health of the world’s people. It contains data from 194 countries on a range of mortality, disease and health system indicators, including life expectancy, illnesses and deaths from key diseases, health services and treatments, financial investment in health, as well as risk factors and behaviours that affect health.
General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria former President in his assessment of Jonathan’s performance in office posited: “I don’t believe he has performed to the expectations of many Nigerians, not just me.” While US Senator John McCain in his view feels that we don’t even have a government in the right sense, “We shouldn’t have waited for a practically non-existent government to give us the go ahead before mounting a humanitarian effort to rescue those girls”
“Mr. Jonathan, who leads a corrupt government that has little credibility, initially played down the group’s threat and claimed security forces were in control. It wasn’t until Sunday, more than two weeks after the kidnappings, that he called a meeting of government officials – New York Times.
The Economist, writing under the Editorial ‘A Clueless Government described the PDP Government in Nigeria, ‘perhaps the worst aspect of the Nigerian Government’s handling of the abduction is its seeming indifference to the plight of the girls’ families. It took more than two weeks before Mr. Jonathan addressed the matter in public. His government’s sluggish response and its failure even to clarify how many girls had been abducted provoked protests in several cities across Nigeria – itself an usual event
We should be asking ourselves: Is this the type of PDP that Nigerians voted for during the general elections of 2011? Of course, not! Nigeria is certainly more divided under this administration than ever and only divine intervention can enable us survive the visionless and clueless leadership that now pervades our nation. These are some of the reasons why the leadership of APC should move fast to rescue our nation from the sordid state it is at the moment.
I am so saddened over the mess President Jonathan has made of our country, because I could recall warning Nigerians that Jonathan was not prepared for the office he was being pushed to occupy, after messing up the zoning formula of PDP entrenched for the sanctity and peace of the nation. But nobody took me serious. I am warning again, that if PDP under President Jonathan is not stopped by 2015, Chief Uzor Kalu would have become a true prophet. After all, he once said: “Jonathan might be the last Nigerian President. Jonathan might be the Gorbachev of Nigeria. And that is the truth, so we better wake up. Political class, business class, military, civilians must now stand up to work for our internal security. We are suffering from pains of our people; we are suffering from pains of the Nigerian system. This is not about which part of the country you come from, it is about Nigeria.”
Chief Tom Ikimi, one of the major pillars of the party, in his open letter to the national chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande titled, “My fears for APC, by Ikimi” of May 9, 2014 expresses the fears of some key actors of the party. He wrote: “I have taken a few days rest, but my intention of proceeding to an extended holiday seem to be disturbed by the overwhelming unfavourable reports I have received from across the country on the present status of our party. I have spoken to party members and leaders across the country and the feeling is unanimous regarding the downward trend of things. The latest problems arise from the congresses where in the South-South region; there are fundamental problems in Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers and Edo. I have been informed of similar problems in most other states across the country. Parallel excos have emerged in Ogun State!
“I am compelled to express strong reservations on the present state of affairs in our party, and my heart bleeds when I look back at the efforts and personal sacrifice many of us made to bring this national platform to fruition.”
I believe some of the issues raised by Chief Ikimi in his letter should be addressed as we should not be seen repeating some of the evils that scared us away from PDP.
if we still have audacious strategists in the party, I will suggest that we in APC should heed to the wise counsel of elder statesman Alh. Balarabe Musa, who had earlier advised that “the North should forget the ambition of insisting on the presidency in 2015, rather a credible President for the country should be allowed to emerge from the South-South in 2015 to replace Jonathan.”.
I fully persuade our leaders to carefully study this proposal from Musa and make the contest for the APC Presidential ticket an open one that anybody from any section of the country can bid to take. If we make the presidential primary free, fair and transparent, whoever emerges no matter where he or she is from should be allowed to go with the full support of the entire party. This is the only way I believe we can achieve the APC’s aim of rescuing Nigeria from the evil grip of the PDP before this great nation is ran aground.
The most important thing that should be at the back of every progressive Nigerian’s mind is how to free Nigerians from the shame that PDP has brought to us all. And, if we miss this opportunity, only God will determine the fate of our nation.
In this regards, let us be guided by the foremost African, Nelson Mandela’s words: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”. And the counsel of management philosopher, Peter Drucker: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” This is if truly we want to bail this country from the mess of PDP.
Knowing that some people will start to ask questions on my pedigree in penning down this letter, let me state that apart from the facts enumerated above of the need of this letter, my past acts in the struggle for a better and greater Nigeria position me for this letter. I was the national director of the dreaded Turaki Vanguard that fought to stand still the infamous third term agenda and some anti-democratic elements during the second term tenure of President Obasanjo. I was in charge of the public relations unit of the outfit. Apart from being the immediate past national publicity secretary of “new Peoples Democratic Party” (nPDP), I initiated and headed the Igbo Crusaders Political Outfit and South-East-South-South Amalgamated Political Movement (SESSAM), which I used to promote and propagate the ideals and visions of the founding fathers of PDP in the North-East of Nigeria, though sadly the party has been hijacked by elements that never knew the ideals and principles why PDP was formed in the first place.
With this clarification, the point that I have been in the centre of the struggle for a better Nigeria is not in doubt, prompting the penning down of this letter. So it will be sad should anybody dare suggest that I was either influenced or motivated in writing this letter for any other consideration, if not for patriotic reasons.
The fact remains that should APC loose out in the 2015 general election, but God forbid, the true colour of President Goodluck Jonathan will be revealed to Nigerians and none of us may survive the heat. The ball is now in your court to do that which is necessary to rescue Nigeria from the imminent doom that awaits her, should we fail in this mission.
Let me, therefore, conclude this letter by asking you all to listen to what the most outstanding African, both dead and living, Nelson Mandela, said about our present predicament: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
Regards and remain blessed.
•Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze was the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New PDP. 08038199163