The CHANGE I Voted For: An Open Letter To President Buhari

Dear President Buhari,

I’ve written and rewritten this post many times in my head, but I think today, being halfway into your tenure would be the best time to publish.

A Quick Flashback

A few weeks to the 2015 elections, I was caught by a squad of policemen for making an illegal u-turn somewhere in Ilupeju. The police quickly told me I should settle or I’d be in for a heavy fine of about N25 000.

With a smirk on my face, the arrogance of a kingsman and the pidgin of a Benin boy, I said to him “Oga, I no go fit give you moni, we na Buhari people, we no dey give bribe”.

The man couldn’t believe it.

He asked why he should support you, and I went “for starters, dem no go dey chop una moni again and you no go need wear this kain uniform ”. Yes, you emboldened me.

He asked where I was from and I told him Anambra. He muttered “Ah. Igbo boy dey support Buhari?”, I said “Yes o, we no too many but we dey”.

Our conversation concluded with him saying “you too believe this man sha. I pray it will be as you’ve said it” with that, he let me go.

So why did I believe you quite a lot?

Let’s go a little back to what I read in Bill Clinton’s autobiography

In Bill Clinton’s first term as Governor of Arkansas, he increased vehicle taxes. As a result of the blowback from that action, he lost reelection. During the next election, he met a man who said he voted for Clinton in his first term, voted against him in the reelection and would vote Clinton this third election.

Clinton asked why he voted against him in the reelection. His response was “because you raised taxes”. Clinton then asked why he was voting him this time around? “Because you raised taxes”

Bill Clinton was bewildered and they guy went on to explain.

“Because you’re generally a good guy but you made a mistake and were punished. You’d be the last person to make the same mistake”

You see, in your first coming just over 30 years ago, you made some mistakes and it made common sense that you’d be the last person to make the very same mistakes.

Or so I thought.

The Expectations

Unlike those who consistently state ”this is not the Change I voted for” (though their social media trail state they were definitely anti change) , this letter is going to briefly highlight the change I voted for.

I voted for a structural change in the way government is run, I voted for a government that prioritizes competence over political payback to godfathers. It was clear that the millions of Nigerians were your godfathers and you didn’t need to pander to a handful of individuals.

I voted for, a top down cover by a strongman President to give space for bottom up change.

Your selection of, and pairing with Prof. Osinbajo was fantastic. You’d take care of political blow-back relating to stamping out corruption and give the security cover a retired ex C in C a retired Fulani General could give while your deputy would focus on economic and operational issues. After all, it was said you loved to delegate to your deputies.

So I and many looked forward to Police reform, NYSC reform, Land Reform, Civil Service reform, Power Reform, etc. The million number of issues that have been so debated with their attendant white paper, upon black paper upon blue paper would get taken care of.

All that was missing was the political mandate and will to implement them.

You were given the former and it was taken for granted you possessed the latter

The constitution of your transition panel gave me confidence. The Chairman Ahmed Joda gave you a checklist of things to do that would give you so much win that we would be tired of winning! Like immediately ending whatever subsidy and selling off the refineries so the largest consumer of our foreign exchange (fuel imports) would be eliminated in less than 18 months. Or is it the implementation of the Oronsaye report that would have made the civil service much more efficient and effective.

Victory for Nigeria was assumed to be assured.

The Reality

That assumption was blown out of the water almost immediately with the refusal to adhere to many of your immediate promises especially the symbolic publishing of your asset declaration. But that was only the beginning.

When the ministerial list was getting embarrassingly delayed, I confidently quoted Lincoln about using 90% of time allotted for cutting a tree to sharpening the knife. “Leave Buhari” I said, “they need to restructure the Ministries before making these appointments”

7 months later, you blessed Nigerians with Dalung and crew.

It didn’t help that in the interim, you decided to hold fort on economic issues. For someone who prided himself in never having run a business, you were determined to have the only and final say on economic issues at the same time refused to get a single economic adviser — at least known to the public, but had 4 of the most incompetent set of Nigerians as part of your 6 person media troop.

It did not help that you have a light weight yes man in Godwin Emefiele as your Central Bank Governor. The value of the Naira is a testament of the result of that combination.

Sir, you were given a blank cheque but you let it go invalid because you were taking your time. Today more than 70% of the positions you were to fill with those who were to drive your agenda remain unfilled. We do not even have an Ambassador to the United States. All this is because you decided to operate the engine of your government with the worst of people. You used drum engine oil for your G Wagon even though you had your pick from anything Mobil.

From education to power to technology to internal security, there is zero clarity to what the plan is or was. It was a while ago I realized that there was no plain after all.

Of course the war against the terrorists emboldened by the corrupt and incompetent past administration, has thankfully had a great turn for the better. We’ve recaptured lost territory. Your Minister for Trade is doing quite a good job on improving the ease of business and perhaps we are on course for rice sufficiency.

But are these the reasons you spent 12 years of your life struggling to be President? Is this why you cried the last time? I know I didn’t place a bet on you for gradual increment. Nigeria doesn’t have that time!

Your war on corruption has been at best “meh” because it is dependent not on your jump starting institutions but on your selective whims which will not last a day after you eventually leave.

Abuse of court processes has done a lot more harm than good. It may have subtly understandable if the abuses were the exception rather than the norm.

Good intentions are not the pillars on which a nation is built. Political will and EXECUTION are what matter.

Political reform was another thing that is very critical. From financing to party membership to elections themselves. one had hoped that you’d lead a different kind of party.

What do we have today?

Nothing different from the PDP you spent years trying to dislodge. Ifeanyi Uba is now your great party man.

The handling of the Shiite massacre in Kaduna, the killer herdsmen and IPOB has accelerated divisions in the country. All of them were EASILY avoidable. Such a tragedy!

Do we talk about the blizzard of stressful expensive foreign travels you made early in your tenure that have had no clear returns and in which you put down your country men and woman many a time?

There is no need to keep on and on enumerating so many failures

The Verdict

Here is the truth, on the two critical legs of any Nation, the economy and security, your government (F in the economy, D in security) and that of GEJ merely swapped grades. The marks you got from dislodging Boko Haram, your government surrendered it to Kidnapping and Herdmen issue.

On corruption, you have a C while GEJ had an F+. However, the effect of corruption is what we see in the economy or on security issues. Corruption isn’t bad just as a moral issue, but because of the negative impact it has on a nation. If you “fight corruption” and the negative impact is still felt, what is the purpose?

No Regrets

While there is ample disappointment in the way things have turned out, I have little regrets in voting and supporting you. First of all you were a great beneficiary of the utterly gross and treasonable corrupt incompetence of President Jonathan. He had to go.

But you gave us the confidence to support you.

You were open minded enough to wear a bow tie! The Igbo regalia, etc. It was validly presumed that you had finally decided to CHANGE some of the things that held you back. As a religious nation, are we not to accept a man has repented?

But how would anyone have assumed you’d move on from those who were able to finally get you your ambition? Swap the team that got you to the promised land for those that failed you for a decade. It still alarms me up to this day.

I and those that supported you cannot take the blame for that shocking decision making.

Unlike what many people think, the great disappointment in your administration not sectionalized. Many of my Fulani friends who I coordinated with in your campaign have all moved on. Our gorgeous first lady Aisha merely voiced what was already underneath.

What I realize is that Muhammadu Buhari himself didn’t grasp Buharism was an ideal even you had to aspire towards. Those that that said you were being idolized didn’t get you were a symbol of the aspiration. It is clear you didn’t get it.

Moving Forward

There are two questions I always wanted to ask you one of which was especially pertinent before the election. The other is still applicable

  1. What actions did you take in your first coming that you would not take or approach differently today?
  2. When you are all done and gone after having held the most powerful office in the land, what would be your living legacy? Not just how you’d be remembered but what will stay put after you.

For the first question, I was worried you had not learned your economic lessons. I had hoped an issue driven debate would get you to commit on record specific economic ideologies.

When I began this letter a year ago, it was filled with a lot of suggestions on what you should do to change course. Then, you were not ill. Then you had a lot of time. Sadly, neither are the case today. So this letter is a focus on what could have been.

“He hated corruption” is nothing new. You have the t shirt from over 30 years ago.

Ironically, one of your legacies would be the resuscitation of Biafra. Your government’s overreaction to a miscreant combined with your very very poor regard for perception and actual inclusion has given Biafra the greatest rallying point in decades. You have made Ndi Igbo United.

The best case scenario is you have 2 more years in power. What could you do with that time? I suggest you support and give all the backing you have to your deputy, Prof. Osinbajo on his brilliant job he’s doing substituting for you and try to bring healing to the people. Think deeply of the legacy you’d live behind. Something Nigeria’s will live with and not just remember.

A Quick One About Me

It may be important to drop a bit of my “Buhari supporter” pedigree so maybe my words may not be dismissed entirely.

I could start with your first selfie with me back in 2014 when your candidacy in the latest election was still a gamble. However I would start from 2007 when this lad from Anambra first voted for you.

In 2009 I created and solely ran the Buhari Fan Page until 2011 when I recruited a supporter of yours from Gombe to help me (he’s “moved on” too ). When I opened that’s page, there was no election in sight. I was just a fan of yours. A true one that did what he could to show support.

It was the main rallying point online for supporters online until your victory in 2015

Behind the scenes, I worked with the people at BSO — Buhari Supporters Organization and the Campaign Headquarters. Online and offline I did my best to promote your candidacy. I took statistics from your work at PTF (sent to me by a relative of yours who was worried the good job you did then wasn’t being articulated properly) and worked tirelessly to produce this beautiful report card that got published in the newspapers and ended the negative conversation.

As an editor of factchecki.ng worked with a group of brilliant minds to counter what ever false rumour was put out by your opposition. I doubt you got to see the LinkedIn Page that I set up for you

There would be no need to mention that I am greeted “Sai Baba” whenever I appear on my street in testament to the ground work I did where I live. These days, I cannot tell if the greeting is sarcastic

There is no need to mention the casual and direct threats I’ve had to endure for “being a traitor to my people”

As one of your supporters, this was all unpaid brought from a place of conviction. Nothing was asked for, nothing was received. Just the way it should be.

This time around, I should be consistent and honorable enough to tell you as it is, you’ve failed me and those who had faith in you. I understand, it doesn’t sound like what you want to hear. But do not dismiss it. It all comes from a place of love.

I wish you speedy recovery and the strength to listen and do the right thing.

Get well soon my General.

Sincerely,

Oo Nwoye