An Open Letter to President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
Sung Bauta, Ph.D.
Mr. President, you will agree that political opposition is necessary in any democracy. In Nigeria where one party tends to head every branch of government, political opposition is important to provide checks and balances to the sitting government. Unfortunately, the cross-carpeting that is prevalent within Nigerian politics reveals a troubling reality: Nigeria’s political parties, especially the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have no distinct ideological differences. The parties are only vehicles to attaining power, thereby the people’s mandates are ignored. Since partisan politics is not the answer to a better Nigeria, God has positioned you, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to lead the opposition.
Due to your position as chairperson of the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCPC), and as Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), it is necessary for your cordiality with Buhari’s government. But the cordiality is blinding you to the failures of this government, especially its brazen attempts to suppress legitimate protest. In your statement on the Lekki massacre, you denounced the government’s “battle against its own people.” By attacking its citizens, the Buhari government has delegitimized itself! Perhaps the events of Lekki reminded you of your evaluation of Buhari in an interview with The Cable during the 2015 campaign: “Gen Buhari, with due respect, is not the right option for Nigeria at this time.” In other words, Buhari would be a mistake for Nigeria. Your words echo similar sentiments I expressed about Buhari when he began running for the presidency in 2003. In my response article published on the online newspaper, Gamji.com entitled, A Reasonable Nigeria, I cautioned Nigerians against wanting Buhari over Obasanjo: “If we are complaining about Obasanjo not performing, what then do we think Buhari will offer? Absolutely nothing! He will only make it worse.”
Nigerians refused to heed our words. Unfortunately, history has proven us right on Buhari's inability to lead Nigeria. Buhari was a mistake for Nigeria. Like me, the majority of Nigerians elected Buhari with hope for "change;" unfortunately, the situation in Nigeria has worsened under Buhari’s administration. In your concession speech on 31 March 2015, you said that "Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian." Buhari has made it clear that his political ambition is worth Nigerian lives. For instance, Buhari’s political ambition precipitated the 2011 riots in Kaduna that claimed many lives. During the 2015 campaign, Buhari also made disturbing comments that encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence if he was not declared winner of the presidential election. Therefore, it is not surprising that under Buhari’s watch, blood continues to be spilled. If only Nigerians realized that Buhari’s antics were a prelude to the ways he would govern, they would not have made the mistake of electing him.
Every index – economic, political, and social – paints a gloomy picture of the country under Buhari’s watch. For instance, when you left office, we were Africa’s largest economy, today, I doubt we are even in the top ten. In fact, Nigeria is considered the poverty-capital of the world! There was insecurity during your time, but Buhari ran on the promise that he would curtail the insurgency. Under his watch, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups, have become emboldened; and armed Fulani militants continue to wreak havoc on hapless populations across the country with impunity. Consequently, thousands have been killed, while millions are displaced across the country. Further, banditry and kidnappings are rampant. Today, people cannot travel a few kilometers without fear of being kidnapped, and people cannot go to their farms to plant or harvest their crops without being harassed and murdered. To be fair, Buhari cannot take the entire blame for the terrible state of our country, but he has contributed significantly to the country’s deterioration. Despite pressures even from his party, he has refused to replace the clueless service chiefs with competent ones.
When you ceased to be president in 2015, you became the opposition. Your voice can inspire the nation to accede to the demand for a better Nigeria. Unfortunately, you are shying away from your responsibilities, as you tend to do when providence shines upon you. Your voice is faint or non-existent at a time when the Nigerian people need you. Mr. President, please, speak vehemently against the current government’s blatant disregard for the rule of law and for human life. Bring to light the constant attacks of villages every day by terrorists. Also, call on the citizenry – both the elites and masses – to shun criminality at every turn. We need a renewed consciousness as a people, and you can lead the charge towards attaining that renewed consciousness. Posterity will not remember you for conceding the 2015 presidential elections, posterity will remember you for defending the cause of humanity when it mattered most.