NIGERIA: Letter To All Of Us


My brotherly brothers, my sisterly sisters, my compatriots, our dear, dear compatriots, where are we now in this republic of disharmony? Where are we now in this absurd place we call our country that is lightless and electricity-less? Where are we now in this your country, your country, our country, our country where in particularly crucial times and moments legality assassinates legitimacy, as Jean-Paul Sartre would say? Jean-Paul Sartre. Who is he? Who was he? For now never mind about him. We shall perhaps more appropriately refer to him later. Perhaps.

For now let us talk about our country squarely and squarely. Let us talk about our country whose legitimate helmspersons are turning themselves into illegitimate helmspersons especially at the central level of governance. At the central level of governance our country’s owners who are not our country’s owners are putting us in cages and traps. Our work conditions under this anti-democratic regime are constantly declining and falling because of the prohibitive cost of living. Each elite is being turned into a worker; and each worker is being turned into a non-worker; and each professional group seems to have been cowed into ridiculous, absurd silence save ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities). This greatest of our greatest professional unions is having none of the serial lies of the central government. It has been vigorously resisting every sign of the un-democratic thinking of GMB and his group.

GMB and his group’s un-democratic thinking and action consist of several forms. It is ethnic (The bulk of GMB’s appointments are from his ethnic base, as we all know), religious (GMB’s appointees to key and sensitive positions are Muslims, as we also know), discriminatory (GMB’s genuine critics are side-lined, back-listed and black-listed and black-mailed, for example, ASUU to whom GMB and his group are hostile), distrustful (GMB and his fellow ethnic and Muslim political actors and lords of governance see the Igbo person as the Other, who cannot be trusted and thus must not smell the presidency), and so forth. Our country cannot go on like this.

Now ASUU is calling out its members for another round of strike against our central government that is not willing or prepared to give the union democratic listening with respect to its rejection of IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System) proposed by the central government. ASUU is instead proposing UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution). The union is right on the position it is taking. The union’s democratic argument centres on the question of autonomy which relates to the question of identity which the Nigerian University System wants to keep in its entirety. The government should, in the spirit of democratic fairness, listen properly to ASUU. And it should not make the bad mistake to stop the salaries of ASUU members who are unwilling to be part of IPPIS on the strength of the potent instruction from their national leaders. ASUU MEMBERS ARE READY TO RE-ENTER THE TRENCHES. From the point of view of the majority of our citizens, GMB must not allow himself to be misled any longer by those who are misleading him. They don’t own our universities as they don’t own our country. Our university calendar must not be allowed to be hiccupped again. Government must listen to ASUU. Government must end its nihilism and all its untoward habits towards ASUU now. By the way, has the central government commenced in earnest its negotiation of 2009 Agreement with ASUU?

This brings me to the Igbo question. Recently, the Igbo people dwelt on fifty years of the end of the civil war our country’s brothers fought against our country’s brothers. Since the civil war ended, have we truly reconciled with our defeated and vanquished brothers? Have the winners really taken concrete interest in the concrete problems that arose for the Igbos after the will civil war? I think this was the ostensible purpose why the Igbos recently reminded us that fifty years after the civil war there has really been no change, no significant change, in their political fortune. The Nigerian state makes citizens out of them by allowing them the right to vote in their atomized states, but when will one of them earn the right to be voted for to lead our country as president that possesses a modicum of presidential power that is effectively real? What requirements do the Igbos need, what requirements do we really need to provide them with, that will enable them to have a modicum of presidential power in the spirit of true reconciliation and unity?

Several of our compatriots dislike the Igbos on the grounds of what I wish to characterize here as their sense pass sense syndrome. As a matter of fact, several brotherly brothers have told me that when Jonathan was in power, Igbos were rightly in power but, unfortunately for them, they misused power whose classic formula they misapplied in the governance of our country. Some compatriots even informed me that in any place or establishment you find the Igbo person as head, he/she behaves in a manner that makes him or her worse than GMB. Of course, I dismissed such nonsense and rubbish, but that there are still brotherly brothers and sisterly sisters who still think this way fifty years after our civil war worries me without end. I have numerous Igbo friends and brotherly brothers with whom I relate wonderfully well. But I am always reminded thus: Give them political power of any sort and you will abdicate whatever power you have. As unpopular as GMB is now several persons there are who still crave for him and them are prepared to persuade others to deposit their ballots in his box were he to contest again in 2023 so long as his main opponent is from across the Niger.

Ostensibly, however, several people I spoke to would be happy to give their ballots to anyone from the base and forest of leopard keepers even if he is a scoundrel. By leopard keepers, they meant the Amotekun political actors who they prefer to the seemingly shady people in central power now. Even if they will adhere to the same electoral principles that brought the current central majority people to power, it is believed that they will rightly reshuffle our country – even if they don’t re-structure it outright. And one argument tendered is this: The leopard keepers would never have allowed what the Igbos did to Igbos by allowing legality to massacre legitimacy recently in Imo State with the Supreme Court ouster of ex-governor Emeka Ihedioha. It is believed that what happened to Ihedioha was externally inspired with the full connivance of fifth columnists and traitors within. Maybe the unwholesome picture of Igbos against Igbos in Imo State and across the Niger will change if Emeka Ihedioha finally succeeds in his new endeavour to make the Supreme Court to review its ouster clause against him. When that happens, legality will befriend legitimacy. And Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), rebelliously revolutionary French philosopher, novelist, and dramatist would in his grave applaud our new justice system in our country, our contemporary country, of powerless compatriots who are now very ready to be powerful compatriots and citizens set to challenge rebelliously those who have been suffering us and causing disharmony and disunity in our country. GMB must create time to read Sartre. If he cannot, he knows she or he to summon to do so for him. They are among those to certify him certificated.

Brotherly brothers, sisterly sisters, citizens and compatriots, I salute you. I salute us as we read this over and over again. You need no contact lens to do so.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.