This is the first time, in sixteen years, that two major political parties almost of equal size will fiercely compete for presidency of the nation. This is good for democracy. But the electorate must choose wisely at the polls. This time, the choice you make at the polls will either set our nation on rapid progression or send it into irreversible regression and doom.
Full text of the letter:
For a quick introduction: I’m president of Africa Monitor USA, a non-profit organization working to facilitate democracy, civic responsibility, good governance and rule of law in Africa. Previously, I was founding national secretary for the ruling party – Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP) in the United States (PDP-USA) – a position I occupied when Chief Barnabas Gemade and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo were chairman and national secretary of the party respectively, and ended when Chief Audu Ogbe and Chief Ogbulafor became chairman and national secretary of the party. I had led several delegations to Abuja and Chief Ogbulafor also had visited us in the US a few times to conduct party business. In view of my background, therefore, it is not happenstance that I’m interested in the socio-political and democratic activities in Nigeria.
I write you this open letter because of our common interest, our great country – Nigeria. Nigeria is a country with immense population, young and educated labor force, and vast natural resources than many countries around the world, but has never realized her great potentials because of lack of selfless leadership. It is disheartening that Nigeria has not fulfilled the aspirations of her citizens after sixteen years of democratic government and a promising economy. In a few days, you will go to the polls to pick the man who will become president of Nigeria for the next four years. A great many Nigerians have expressed measured optimism on the outcome of the elections. Although, I share their skepticism, but I’m also hopeful, they would vote to break from the past and present – for the future of our beloved homeland. This hopefulness formed my decision to communicate with you through this medium. I therefore, implore you to read this letter in its entirety and open your minds to my plea to cast your vote where it would make a significant difference in the lives of common Nigerians who have suffered untold penury for the longest time and also for next generations to come.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of this presidential election. This is the first time, in sixteen years, that two major political parties almost of equal size will fiercely compete for presidency of the nation. This is good for democracy. But the electorate must choose wisely at the polls. This time, the choice you make at the polls will either set our nation on rapid progression or send it into irreversible regression and doom. Unlike past elections, this is a make or break for the nation – a choice between status-quo and steps forward in the right direction. For all I know, voting status-quo will not produce any better results than we have had in the last sixteen years. In fact, it will worsen the unprecedented moral and economic decadence that have long pervaded the country.
Nigeria needs a clean break from her past and present. But breaking away from status-quo does not require just one decision made at one particular poll. It requires using effectively and very often the tools of democracy, such as freedom of speech, dissemination of democratic ideas and values, civil disobedience to seek social-political changes, and active participation in free and fair elections to elect good leaders and sack bad ones at each opportune election cycle. This is how democracy is irreversibly rooted in a society. This is what is expected of the electorate in Nigeria.
As citizens in a democracy, you are responsible for the kind of governance you get through elections. If you elect good leaders, you get good governance, and if you do otherwise, you get the resulting governance as well. Thus, you should vote politicians in and out of office based on their performances without any hesitation or remorse. In the United States, the electorates hire and fire politicians every two-year period – usually in mid-term elections – they don’t even wait for the presidential election that comes every four years. This is an effective use of political franchise. Nigerians should emulate this democratic attitude by becoming active in democratic enterprise in order to secure an egalitarian society, build strong institutions and foster the rule of laws for all.
Regrettably, Nigeria has enabled corruption into our lives for far too long. But there is something wrong with the larger society when government perpetuates the culture of corruption, and citizens look the other way, showing no consternation – glorifying corruption and ignoring its effect on development of the country. And for this, there are enough blames to go around – for leadership and followership in equal proportions. The leadership problem facing the country is not insurmountable if Nigerians would change their perspectives on corruption and begin to fight it whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head in society – whether in public or private sector.
Nigerians should begin to shun politicians who get into politics for the sake of stealing public funds – for there must be punitive consequence for stealing public funds. It is not enough to continually deride government and blame politicians for all that goes wrong in the country; but more importantly, it is inexcusable for citizens in a democratic society to neglect their sacred responsibility and civil liberties to check and balance the government they elect. Nigerians must be fully engaged in their civic responsibility to change the society for the better. Please, stand up and let your voices be heard – disturb the public order and protest peacefully when necessary to right a wrong – even if you are complacent and do not wish to perfect democracy – do it for posterity. Today, Americans enjoy the freedoms for which their forbearers fought and died some two hundred years ago. It is not too late for Nigerians to begin to build a legacy for next generations to come.
Nigeria needs transformation from the economic abyss, social malaise, and utter corruption to a nation full of opportunities for her citizens. There are many things at stake in these elections, such as creating jobs for our youth, reforming deteriorated education system, devising health care and housing scheme for the masses, stabilizing power generation for household use and industrial operations to grow the economy, and fighting the ubiquitous corruption in both private and public sectors. You, the electorates must vote for the leader who would realize these lofty goals. I therefore, implore you to vote for change in the next presidential election. If for anything, Change is good. Change is your friend – Change is necessary – Change is a promise of good things yet to come.
Fellow Nigerians, after careful analysis of the socio-economic situation and the need to lay solid foundation for Nigeria’s development, on behalf of Africa Monitor USA, I humbly endorse the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari for the office of executive president of Nigeria. General Buhari is a decent, honest and disciplined leader, whose love for Nigeria is immeasurable. He would immediately lift the country out of doldrums, unleash its great potentials and create prosperity for all citizens and posterity as well.
As military head of state, Buhari shunned corruption in all forms and never amassed wealth at expense of the poor. He is the only former head of government who never assigned blocks of oil to himself while in office – when other leaders even assigned blocks of oil to their concubines. It is not news to you that most past and current politicians operate foreign bank accounts to hoard stolen public funds – some of which are used to purchase aircrafts and expensive mansions in Abuja and across the globe. But General Buhari has never operated foreign bank accounts; neither does he have an aircraft nor mansions in Abuja and across the globe. He detests inordinate ostentation and lives a humble life. These are the virtues that endear this great man to many Nigerians – including myself – who are clamoring for his victory at the next polls. I plead that the electorates make his victory a reality.
Finally, I beseech you to cast your votes for Muhammadu Buhari to become the next president of our great nation. I have no doubt that Buhari’s leadership will bring immediate succor to the poor who are disenchanted with their government. This is our last opportunity to change Nigeria for good. Please join us to make it happen in our lifetime. And Nigeria would ultimately occupy her rightful position in the assemblage of great nations. Please vote and guide your votes, it is a matter of your civic and sacred responsibility.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nicholas Adelani Owoyemi, CFA
President, Africa Monitor USA, INC.