Saturday, 20 January 2018

Dele Momodu: A Letter of Appreciation to Mrs Aisha Buhari


By Dele Momodu

Your Excellency, let me start by telling you that this letter is not intended to flatter you but to show my profound appreciation, and that of so many like minds, for your uncommon sagacity at a time it seems wisdom has taken leave from most people in our dear beloved country and they are more engaged in flights of fancy. You are a classic example of that adage that says “behind every successful man is a woman.” Let me assure you that you are in a class of your own. And I thank God for blessing Nigeria with your kind. 

I decided to write this letter only yesterday when I came across your tweets, or retweets, of the Oak Television videos that have since gone viral. I have never seen any wife of a Nigerian President who would openly criticise a government in which she is a major beneficiary. I’m even more surprised that you would voluntarily endorse and promote videos that criticised your government on social media. You may not know it but you’re setting new standards in our country. You shall be called a quintessential pacesetter, when tomorrow comes. I have no doubt that no matter what, when all is said and done, and the present administration is long gone, you would have left behind a positive enduring legacy, an epitome of womanhood and wifely rectitude.  My prayer continues to be that we will be able to say the same of your husband, our dear President Muhammadu Buhari, notwithstanding the fact that he now has little time to address and redress so many shortcomings.

I’m certain that if your husband had listened to your wise counsel much earlier he would have, probably, averted the mess in which he is currently enmeshed. Your husband rode to power with so much love and goodwill, the type we’ve not experienced since June 12, 1993, when Chief Moshood Abiola won the Presidential election, fair and square. The expectations were very high, in a similar fashion, in 2015, when majority of the voters, including former critics of your husband chose to support or vote for him. His was a miraculous resurrection. No one expected him to waste such humongous goodwill at all and, nevertheless, not so soon after his return to power. But before we blinked our eyes, things had started falling apart. It took forever to assemble his team. And when he finally did, many wondered why they could not have been selected much earlier, given the nature and calibre of people selected. Indeed, it was as if Nigerians expected that your choices were going to descend from heaven and some angels were going to be appointed. The government started losing steam and stamina from that moment.

Not just that. Your husband’s ruling Party, APC, started a war of attrition in the National Assembly. Some of his biggest supporters were suddenly pounced upon and humiliated publicly while your husband kept a straight poker face, as if he knew nothing or it was not any of his business. This fierce battle inadvertently united and aligned some of his own party faithful with the opposition and they even succeeded in sharing very powerful positions with them. I’m sure your husband had been misled into thinking he still had the power of life and death like he did as a military Head of State after the overthrow of the Shagari regime in 1983. He also forgot an important characteristic of Nigerians, our ability to forgive and forget easily. The same Nigerians who would shout “crucify him” today are the same people who would scream “don’t kill him” for various reasons, ranging from ethnicity to religion or even pecuniary gains. There is also the quotalisation of corruption, a situation where stealing enjoys Federal Character.

As if that was not bad enough, the Nigerian economy suffered its worst cataclysmic fall in decades, perhaps, because of the ill-informed decision of your husband’s government to ban people from depositing United States Dollars into their accounts. As interpreted by laymen like me, a country that desperately needed an injection of foreign exchange into its Central Bank was actually rejecting the medicine it badly needed. Maybe this was the beginning of the end. All manner of freaky controls followed. Kids who were schooling abroad began to suffer untold hardships. Those with scholarships from home were being dishonoured. I remember writing a memo to the President begging him not to offend those kids. Education had always been a major investment in Nigerians and any attempt to deprive our youths the best education at home and abroad was an invitation to trouble. Before the decision was properly sorted, many young people had given up on this government to protect their future. In a country that found easy money for pilgrimages, it was very unfortunate that education was never a priority.

You blew me apart when you found your voice and spoke up openly and candidly and lamented the way your husband’s government was shattering into smithereens. You were in a position to know, and very right to tell the whole world, that your husband was not in charge and that if the situation continued unabated, you were not likely to support his second term bid. Though you were told to mind your own business at the time, the point had been made so eloquently and poignantly. Today, and looking back, it seems, you’re indeed a prophet without honour at home. Everything you said has become gospel truth.

One more example of your admonition to our President. Why would he abandon the key figures who made his winning the election possible? Those Party Chieftains who ensured his electoral victory were either studiously ignored or conveniently abandoned. It was as if the President had laboured alone on what had been a remarkable collaborative effort. As you rightly noted, Ma, the people you started seeing in the Presidential villa were strange faces that you didn’t see in the heat of the battle. I’m aware of the personal efforts you made reaching out to some of such people to appease them and assuage their sore feelings. That is what every good woman and supportive wife should do in the face of wanton disregard and disrespect of the gallant warriors who fought to demolish the PDP behemoth when it was least expected.

Today, the chickens have come home to roost. It appears the President has suddenly woken up from his slumber or maybe the mask  of the evildoers has suddenly been lifted and the President we all voted for has come back from the deep. Our President is now under pressure to reach out frantically, and desperately, to the same people who were used and dumped after that landmark election in 2015. The same people you pleaded for  and urged should be absorbed and assimilated into an all-inclusive government of patriots who worked to enthrone democratic principles and the change philosophy you became known as the apostle of.

Now, the President is working extra hard, using extra time and effort, to bring back some of those who have been ostracised for no justifiable reason. Suddenly, he is now making appointments which were pencilled in almost 3 years ago, leading to an understandably botched exercise. The flaws notwithstanding, key national institutions will be properly administered for the first time in your husband’s tenure. We hope that the necessary refinement of this list of appointees will not take forever again.  Time is fast spent and your husband will do well to quickly confirm the authentic list and let those appointed get to work.  Others may see iit as largesse to the Party Faithful but why not.  However, as discerning administrators and observers will know, the essence of these appointments is not just in rewarding Party members but in your husband fulfilling his statutory and constitutional responsibilities and not being seen as running an autocratic, exclusive government. Every government that observes the rule of law and not merely pays lip service to it is on the path of righteousness.

More recently and commendably, Mr President is digging deep. He is now interacting with the people that he needs to move the country forward and ensure that he himself has a lasting legacy.  It is gratifying to see the President having meetings and dinners with members of his Party, principal officers of the National Assembly and other key stakeholders. God is indeed wonderful. Those who felt you were seeking relevance, and personal comfort, have now realised your level of patriotism and love for Nigeria, as those things that you yearned for and spoke out about at great peril to your personal comfort and safety are now beginning to happen. It is my prayer that you will yet have the last laugh over the ignominious cabal that seemed to have held your husband hostage and attempted to strangulate our nation in the process. You are a woman of virtue and honour and Nigerians can’t appreciate you enough. So this weekend, on behalf of my fellow citizens I say bravo and doff my heart to a gentle Amazon, beautiful soul, visionary woman and invite my fellow Nigerians to do the same!

May God continue to bless and protect you and your family.


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