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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

AN OPEN LETTER TO BUHARI ON HIS ELECTION AS NIGERIA’S NEXT PRESIDENT- TONY USIDAMEN


Dear President-in-Waiting,

Congratulations on your victory at the polls. I didn’t vote for you. As a matter of fact, I campaigned vigorously against your emergence as President, and really hoped that your bid would fail yet again.

My reasons are not far-fetched: First, I thought that since you subverted the wish of Nigerians when you took over power from a democratically elected government in a coup d’état back in 1983, you didn’t deserve to be President under the same system of governance you loathed.

Secondly, with the gross violation of human rights that took place under your watch, and the sense of injustice against certain persons, groups or regions, I thought that you hadn’t shown genuine remorse for your actions, and cared nothing about healing past wounds, which remain in our national psyche.


Thirdly, and most importantly, as a creative person, I just could not imagine anyone who could deny the people - particularly the press - their freedom of expression as my President. Even if I excused the first two points, with this one you stood absolutely no chance, had the elections been up to me.

But it wasn’t! It was up to the good people of Nigeria, and the majority chose you (I totally respect their wishes). As a Christian too, I believe that power comes only from God, and he has been gracious enough to choose you to lead Nigerians, in spite of your shortcomings. Who are my to challenge God?

Rather, I challenge you to see your victory as a divine opportunity in the service of the Nigerian people!
I am sure you have observed, from the voting patterns across the federation, that Nigeria is still very much divided along geographical, ethnic and religious lines. You couldn’t be oblivious of the resentment towards your candidacy in certain regions too? Remember that you are President of ALL Nigerians, and you must do your best to unite our people.

While I commend you for openly accepting responsibility for everything that happened during your time as military ruler, I urge you to make conscious efforts to mend fences, and extend a sincere hand of fellowship to all aggrieved parties. It may take some time for the scars of yesteryears to fade away…but it would be a significant gesture in the healing process of our country.

Without a doubt, there are enormous challenges before us as a nation. But, of course, you - of all people - know that!  The onus is now on you, Mr. President, to chart a course forward for Nigeria, steering her to greatness in every facet of our national life. You need to hit the ground running by engaging the best minds (and hands) on this all-important journey, no matter their tribe, religion or political affiliation.

The administration of your predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan, was far from perfect…but there were significant gains! You must build on the remarkable achievements in the agricultural sector which has set Nigeria on the path to becoming a global food powerhouse, the on-going revitalization of the, hitherto, dead rail transport system (with many positive implications for the agricultural and manufacturing sectors viz more efficient and reduced cost of transportation of food items and finished products), as well as the laudable power and electoral reforms initiated by the out-going government.

I would not end this letter without acknowledging the huge role that men like Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State played in your successful presidential bid. My personal sentiments about them apart, the fact is that they have given Nigerians a formidable opposition platform, strengthening our democratic process. But keep in mind that your responsibility and loyalty is not to these men (or any party); it is to the Nigerian people whose mandate handed power to you, and you must put the country before any other consideration.

As for me, just like I have for every government before you, I pledge my support for your administration, and promise to do my bit as a responsible Nigerian citizen for the good of our great nation. I encourage all Nigerians to do the same!

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Yours in the service of our Fatherland,

TONY USIDAMEN

Tony Usidamen, a public relations consultant & social commentator writes from Lagos

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