Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Letter to President Yar’Adua

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations upon your inauguration and swearing in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As you know, for the next few months, perhaps years, your government will be regarded as being in the penumbra of the Obasanjo regime given the situation that brought you into office. Against this you must toil to carve out a unique identity for yourself and administration. To do this, you must choose wisely your vision and the folks in your cabinet to drive this vision.

Dare I suggest that you must focus on these three things amongst other things – (a) Security, (b) Rule of Law and (c) Economic development.

Security – As you know, the most pressing issue facing Nigeria today is that of security. The situation in the Niger Delta in particularly dire, with the spate of kidnapping, murder and other criminal acts perpetrated by the so-called Niger Delta militants, who claim to be fighting the cause of environmental degradation in the region. Granted, there are grave environmental issues and injustice meted out to the indigenes of the Niger Delta, but these Nihilist militants it seems perpetrate their nefarious acts with self-serving intent as is evident in the many ransoms they demand of the government and oil companies in exchange for their staff abducted by these militants.

Mr. President, my suggested solution, which apparently fell on the deaf ears of your predecessor, is to go at this problem with the entire arsenal at your disposal, and that includes – negotiation, intelligence, developmental programs and military incursion. Standing at akimbo and adopting the “head in the sand” posture of Obasanjo only worsens the situation as it not only emboldens the criminal and rogue elements in the Niger Delta, but also breeds some “legitimacy” in the chaos. A well kitted and trained force of 10,000 should be enough to take care of this.

This might appear expensive in the beginning, as it would require the investment of at least a couple of billions of dollars to develop such a force, but it beats the estimated $6 - $8 billion lost last year to the nefarious activities of these criminals. Oil holds such a strategic importance not only to Nigeria but to its Western allies, particularly the United States which derives about 9% of its oil needs from Nigeria. Mr. Yar’Adua, the US will only be too happy to help you clean up the mess in the Niger Delta if only you ask.

Rule of Law – Mr. President, your predecessor, Obasanjo made some half-hearted attempt to achieve this. While he gets kudos for instituting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and by all means you should keep this stellar agency, Obasanjo appeared to be partisan and selective in his application of the rule of law. Some people appeared untouchable if they enjoyed the patronage of Obasanjo or the PDP. For example, that illiterate thug in Anambra state, Chris Uba should have been made to face the full weight of the law when he organized the kidnapping of the Anambra state governor, Chris Ngige in 2005. Lamidi Adedibu, the cantankerous murderous leprechaun in Ibadan should have been arrested for the various criminal unrests he instigated and criminal possession of INEC machines and materials. By letting these and other beneficiaries of his patronage break the law unscathed, Obasanjo perverted justice and deepened the average Nigerian’s mistrust for the rule of law to the point of hopelessness and utter disdain, driving people to take law into their own hands.

Mr. Yar’Adua, correcting this perception by the impartial administration of justice and restoring the Nigerian’s faith in the rule of law is the only way your government would stand a chance. Do not don the crude vindictive garb of your predecessor, let the law take its course, and be quick to right wrongs as soon as they are discovered.

Economic Development – In its 47th year since independence, Nigeria is still one of the poorest countries in the world, despite her huge potential. Few countries in the world have the human and natural resources of Nigeria, yet Nigeria lags behind these less endowed nations because of years of perennial mediocre and rogue governments, that have mismanaged and systematically plundered the little wealth accruing to the country through the oil industry, while stupidly neglecting other sectors of the economy.

As the price of oil soars to record high levels, and would likely continue to do so for the next decade or more, Nigerian stands at the cusp of an opportunity to turn its fortune around. This it can do only through good governance that is committed, accountable and able to develop and execute developmental programs and systems which will improve infrastructural and social amenities that will engender economic development.

Mr. Yar’Adua, yours is a great responsibility and the sooner you get at it with the right team and inspirational, visionary leadership, the sooner you will be able to make a difference and justify your title as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Be decisive, wise and bold in all that you do in your executive capacity. Think Nigeria first, not PDP, unlike your predecessor and you will be fine.

Good Luck!