Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. Romans 31:1
ALLAH ne ya chanja mana ba kowa ba (God is the one who changed it for us; no one can lay claim to it) was the chant of a disabled man carrying a placard showing the picture of President elect – General Muhammadu Buhari on the day the indefatigable Professor Attahiru Jega announced the final results of the 2015 Presidential election. The young man was reminding all about the content of Saint Paul’s letter to the people of Rome. My prayer to God is that everyday President Muhammadu Buhari governs this country; he will always remember this truth.
I am writing this letter to you, my dear Mr. President, because I believe in my spirit that a good father will always listen to his children. I would try to speak for many Nigerians; I hope I can do a good job of it. My father told me several years ago that a father is like a bin where all come to dump their garbage. He was trying to make me appreciate that a father must live a sacrificial life at all times. I have been a father for 21 years and now know exactly what he was talking about. A president is also like a father, a father for the nation and I thank God that for whatever reason, your supporters gave this slogan amongst many to your campaign – Nigeria Sai Baba. I thank God for your age and your life. I have always known that age provides wisdom and experience which is not available for sale in any market in the world. I never for once saw your age as a weakness as I know that you can receive strength from God. You must therefore always turn to him for replenishment. Again your victory has come in a way to prove that God does not share his glory with anyone. It was a herculean task and left to the powers that be, you would not have made it, but all Glory be to God who has brought this victory to us.
I voted for you along with over 15m Nigerians because we wanted CHANGE. This change is not a change defined by the APC and its stalwarts but that as defined by ordinary Nigerians. It is not a change that allows state governors to earn pensions that is 1,500% of the current salary of the US president; as no good father will allow that to happen to his children. You must therefore determine and implement the change that the people want – if you do not already know and understand it.
I was born in Zaria and spent the first 29 years of my life in Kano. I am close to 50 years now and I am yet to see the change I desire for Nigeria. In 2010, I lost a friend at the age of 48; he died waiting to see the changed Nigeria. I do not want this to be my testimony and neither do many Nigerians. I learnt from my father who studied for a degree at Ahmadu Bello University in the 60s that he had an offer for job and a car loan waiting for him at graduation; today parents of prospective Nigerian graduates spend time in churches and mosques praying for miracles in order for their children to be employed – and their prayers are seldom answered, not because God is powerless to help them but because God is not a magician who can make someone reap without sowing. Today, we have an obscene number of graduate Nigerians without jobs but in order to make us feel good and believe a lie, we create a new definition for the unemployed in our country – Haba!. In the same ABU, my father told me that a student was the newspaper vendor and that he usually left his papers under a tree to go for lectures. The news is that he always came back to meet the unsold papers and money paid for the papers bought by his customers – all intact, not a kobo or newspaper missing. Where did that Nigeria disappear to? Today, we must lock up our children or else anything from kidnapping and even rape can get at them. Stealing or corruption depending on which side of the vocabulary divide you are, is now more common than the air we breathe. What has become of us? In the 70s while in Kano and Wudil, it was largely a time of peace and unity for all tribes and tongues. Unfortunately today, we are all at each other’s throats; insecurity is the order of the day and even your election had serious tribal and religious connotations. Why is this the case? Could it be injustice and lack of equity or is it lack of transparent and selfless leadership or all of them put together? I recall once when my older daughter wanted to visit Kano in 2011, the town of her birth, she asked for my consent which I promptly declined and asked her to abort the trip. I did this because the North had become so insecure that Kano may be so peaceful and quiet upon her take off but while still midair, the town may erupt in violence. How can we build a nation when we do not agree with or love one another? Can we really talk about progress without unity and agreement? I humbly request that national unity joins the five key challenges of insecurity, unemployment, corruption, the economy and Power & other infrastructural issues that you have promised to focus on.
With respect to the cancer of corruption, I have it on good authority that for every N100 spent by Nigeria, value is got for not up to N40.
This means that the challenge will be huge and the perpetrators will fight harder than your political opponents. To start with, a politically driven promise reportedly made by you to exclude past pilferers of the wealth of the nation will set you on a wrong foot and against the wishes of those who voted for the change you promised. No responsible father will do this to his children and that is the TRUTH. How did the word restitution come into being if all evil done in the past will just be overlooked? You must seek to probe all who have stolen our commonwealth regardless of person and time he or she may have done so. While going to school, my civil servant parents paid so little fees that even when retired and having three sons in the university, they were able to cope. Today the government investments that acted as buffers for my parents have been frittered away and or embezzled by our political and military leaders including public servants. I have had to pay exorbitantly to send my children to private universities. The quality public schools I was privileged to go to no longer exists in practical terms.
I am happy that security of lives and property means a lot to you. Many Nigerians are not happy with our performance as a country in this area. You must quickly consolidate on the gains of the former president and not only say NEVER AGAIN but make it a reality. Nigerians must be able to live and earn their livelihood anywhere they choose as this will also drive the aggregate demand for goods and services and help the economy recover. I recall that at a younger age, I regularly drove to Maiduguri from Kano and on the way I sometimes choose to pick up anyone going in the same direction just to keep me company – it was safe to do so then. That was the old northern Nigeria which has gone into oblivion.
A good father should be accessible to all and be trusted to keep his words. He must be transparent and fair to all his children. As president, if you become a boss, then you have left the path of CHANGE that we seek. I have titled my letter to you as father & his two daughters because it defines the very reason I voted for you along with my wife who later told me she fasted for your victory on Friday 27th March – BECAUSE SHE DID NOT WANT FOUR MORE YEARS OF THE SAME. She wanted CHANGE desperately! I voted for you because I want a better life for my two daughters. Again the title has brought up the word father because for me that is the only counsel I have for you. I have read many scintillating write-ups advising you on how to act from 29th May and while I admire the writers understanding of our problems as a nation and marvel at their carefully thought up solutions, I do not want to go in the same direction – not minding the fact that I have also highlighted some of our core problems. My advice to you is to be a good father and nothing more.
As easy as it may sound, it is not going to be a tea party. I believe that it is only by being a good father that you can please the common man and leave a good legacy for yourself. The bible says about a good father – he shows compassion to his children, leaves an inheritance for his children, he does not provoke his children, he trains them in the way they should go, he pitieth his children, he truly loves his children and he does not give his children stone or serpent for food. The American religious leader, lawyer and politician James E. Faust was quoted to have said “To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favour of the needs of their children”. Even as I watched you take your oath of office, I was filled with pride, joy and tears were almost rolling out of my eyes. I am so hopeful and do pray that God will help you – and I know he will if you do not turn your back to him. I appreciate my biological father so much. I will describe him as a man who is prepared to go barefooted for his children. That is the president we dream of and hope that you will become for us. A good father never sleeps until his children have rest. His all in all is focused on them and their well-being. There is nothing too big for him to do and no level too low for him to stoop in order to get them what they want. A good father is ready to put himself in the line of danger to provide for his children. He is always sincere and truthful with his children. It is never about him or his good but only about his children and their future.
I want to conclude by agreeing with you that a good father belongs to all his children but also belongs to none. Remember the REAL person that put you in power, the one who has your Numfashi (Breathe) in his hands and to whom all mankind will be answerable at the end of the day. Determine only to please him and all will turn out well with Nigeria and with your government. Remember that those who said Hosanna! to Jesus were also the ones who said Crucify Him! later on. Nigerians who said “Nigeria-sai Baba” today will also say the opposite if you fail to deliver. My prayer is that God will make you a good father to the nation and that you will succeed beyond our expectations. Allah ya sa du kanmu mu dache.
God bless you sir.
Adeoye Oyewo, a company executive, wrote from Lagos.