An Open Letter To President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, By Kazeem Akintunde

Your Excellency, let me first of all, congratulate you on your hard-fought victory in the recently concluded presidential election. That you fought a real battle before the victory came as no surprise to many political watchers. Even before the main election, getting the ticket of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, which you co-founded, did not come easy. You were forced to make the now famous Emilokan chant in Abeokuta to remind those who wanted to rock the boat that it was your turn to become the next President of Nigeria, and that it was sacrosanct for a gentleman’s agreement for power rotation between the North and the South be upheld.

Becoming the President of Nigeria has been one project that you have nurtured for more than 30 years. During that period, you built political bridges between the North and the South, and cultivated like minds across the country. It was therefore easy for you to tap into the political you-owe-me from favors you have rendered to many across the divide. And when the time came, past favors were remembered.

During the main contest too, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the standard bearer of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, gave a good account of themselves but you still managed to snatch victory, showing how resilient you are. You lost your stronghold, Lagos State, to the Labour Party due to several factors but you still triumphed at the end of the day. Your main challengers for the number one job in the land, Atiku and Obi are now in Court to challenge your victory, as it is within their constitutional rights to do so, and also part of the beauty of democracy.

Your Excellency, now that you are the President-elect awaiting your grand coronation on May 29, I want you to sit and examine the state of the nation you will be inheriting on that day. Nigeria is far worse than it was at the beginning of the present fourth republic in 1999. We are so very much divided now as a people and as a nation. The standard of living of an average Nigerian has plummeted. We are now rated as the poverty capital of the world. Maternal and child mortality rate is still very high while we also have the embarrassing record of having the highest number of out-of-school children on the streets. We have now accumulated a humongous foreign debt, and the purchasing power of our naira has been eroded over the years.

Again, the election that gave you victory, has further divided the country along tribal and religious lines. The tension in Lagos state and some other states in the southeast can be felt by all. The Lagos, being a ‘no-man’s land’ mantra, coupled with allegations that the Igbo are bent on taking over Lagos and the resistance put up by the indigenes during the elections has shown how divided a country we have become, and no longer feel proud to call our own. Now, there are calls on the Igbo to go back to the East if they no longer desire to live and work peacefully in Lagos without dabbling into the politics of their host or trying to change the political dynamics of the state. We are about re-enacting those things that led to the civil war 50 years ago. The ethnic cleansing between the Tutsi and the Hutu in Rwanda readily comes to mind. God forbid that we are headed in that direction!

Though you said that you do not pay attention to the social media again as you have been abused severally and called various names there, the war of words going on there calls for sober reflection and you will need to find a way around the problem. A little spark or an innocuous tweet could lead to an all-out crisis if care is not taken. Now is the time to reach out and douse the tension. And one sure way to get this done is by reaching out to the youths and tackling the challenges facing them such as unemployment, religious and cultural differences, lack of motivation, inadequate technical training and skill development, insecurity, lack of health care, poor education, and lack of access to funds for entrepreneurship. Many of them have lost hope in the country, leading a significant number leaving the country to seek greener pastures. You saw a glimpse of the extent of their frustration during the End SARS protests.

During the week, you issued a statement on the state of things in the country and how the elections have further divided us. Your call for healing and reconciliations is commendable. But you must do more than that. Extending a hand of fellowship to both Atiku and Obi and forming an all-inclusive government is the way to go. The youths, majority of whom don’t align with your brand of politics must be carried along and their interest made a priority by your government. And you can do that by massive job creation in both the private and public sector. Graduates eking a living riding Okada to survive does not augur well for our country. With the deregulation of the power sector approved by President Muhammadu Buhari few months to the end of his tenure, you can tap into that by ensuring that State Governments invest heavily in the power sector. Once state government can generate, transmit and distribute electricity to their citizens and guarantee 24-hour electric power supply to households, we will be catalyzed on the path of industrialization. With constant power supply, you would have succeeded in tackling two issues- unemployment and job creation.

But you can’t start the process without reaching out to the Igbo, who feel marginalized and schemed out of political power in the country. Though I do not believe in their style of playing the victim all the time, you can accommodate them by ensuring that the Senate Presidency goes to the East. The argument that they contributed little or nothing to your victory should not be used against them but as a statesman that you are, work towards your party zoning the ticket to the East. Again, in the spirit of reconciliation, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, should be freed and allowed to go home. Perhaps he would have learnt a lesson or two from his incarceration.

One critical sector that you must pay greater attention to once you assume office is the economy. There is no gainsaying that the nation’s economy has been brought to it’s knees. Nigerians have never had it so bad. Over 80 per cent of our people are extremely poor and eating three square meals a day has become a mirage. It is so bad that some Nigerians are now eating from refuse dumps! Many of our compatriots are refugees in their own land due to no fault of theirs. The needless Boko Haram war in the North as well as the activities of bandits and kidnappers have turned the peaceful North into a no-go area for many. Farming has been abandoned in many communities due to the activities of rampaging kidnappers. The cumulative effect of this is the high price of most food items. So, you must do all be within your power to ensure that the activities of bandits and kidnappers are curtailed so that our people can return to the farm. In the same vein, farmers/herders clash should be looked into by ensuring that cattle rearers establish modern ranching for their business. The practice of herding cattle from KauraNamoda to Ilesha is outdated, and not in line with modern practice the world over.

Even before you were elected, you have been at the forefront of the call for true federalism in Nigeria. Now that you are going to be in charge of the country, we would like to see how far you can go in restructuring the country. This contraption cannot go on like this as we may wake up one day to discover that we don’t have a country again. Some zones feel marginalized, some are not happy that the resources that come from their soil is been used to develop other areas. Many are calling for devolution of power to the regions and we cannot join the rest of the developed world until we sit down to discuss how to manage our differences.

Mr. President-elect, you have cultivated friends in all parts of the country. Those investments in human resources came in handy for you during the poll and you should enable you to pick the best brains from all over the country to assist you in piloting the affairs of Nigeria. Don’t be like your predecessor, whose nepotism stinks to high heavens. I know you are good at identifying great minds that are even better than you and tapping into their God-given talents for the benefit of the nation.

You vowed recently to deliver on your words. Please note that the 80-page document you release as your manifesto is available both in soft copy and hardcopy. You will be held accountable for your words and what becomes of those promises once you assume power. Let the welfare of Nigerians be your utmost priority. You have made enough money that your great-grandchildren cannot be poor again, hence, you have nothing to lose if you devote the rest of your life for the well-being and betterment of Nigerians.

Before I end this letter, Mr. President-elect, be mindful that majority of the youths in Nigeria don’t like you. They believe that you are part of the old order that has held the country down for too long. They will monitor your activities and subject all your policies and programmes to rigorous examination. And they have social media at their disposal. What many leaders did in the past and got away with, may no longer be possible with the present generation.

Reverend Father Mattew Kukah said recently that you are the most prepared presidential candidate, of those that came out to seek our mandate last month. Now that you have it, what are going to do with it? Will it be for the benefit of the masses or will it be business as usual? We are waiting and watching.

See you next week.




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