Dear Uncle Donald
I guess the time has come for me to tell you how I feel about our nation, Uncle Donald, since you opened the communication channel – with the letter you (or your team) sent to me at the weekend. In the letter, Uncle Donald, you addressed me as ‘dear friend’. I really felt flattered. Me, Olukorede Yishau, a struggling journalist and about-to-be-published novelist, described as a friend by the one-and-only Donald Duke, who was two-term governor of Cross River State at an age many of your peers were not sure of their purpose in life. But on a second thought, I felt Uncle was only borrowing a leaf from politicians in advanced democracies. After all, I still get letters regularly from politicians in the United States who obviously got my email in their pool because of the privilege of once covering the American presidential election on the bill of the Department of State’s Foreign Press Centre.
In your letter, Uncle, you sounded so much troubled by the state of our nation. You lamented. You cried. You screamed. You acknowledged the discontentment in the land. You foresaw a ‘bleaker, riskier and dangerous future’ if something drastic was not done.
After the lamentation, Uncle, you asked questions: “What are we doing about it?” “Are we prepared to do something or whine about it as we have been doing for years without end?”
Uncle, you also referred to the daily migration of Nigerians through the Sahara desert, a development you considered as people walking with their eyes open into enslavement, unlike what obtained in the past when people were forced into slavery.
With the right phraseology, you did not forget to prick our conscience. You reminded me that we must be ‘soulless and inhumane’ if we are pleased with the Animal Farm we currently inhabit.
“The fact that this is happening in an age of enlightenment by relatively enlightened young men and women is even more telling. If this does not set off alarm bells among us, then we are soulless and inhumane: the very essence of a human being!
“Enough of whining let us together take up the gauntlet and demand the course of action that would ennoble our society and her people. And if this is not done now, when? And if not by us, whom? In every struggle, there is a result. If you try, you may succeed, but if you don’t, you are definitely bound to fail. I choose to join others and with every breadth in me, be in the vanguard for a better society, ksnowing that together we can make the difference,” you said.
You did not end the letter without welcoming me aboard the flight to end our woes. But something was missing, you never told me in what capacity you were welcoming me. I, however, guess that having been governor twice, you will only be looking forward to leading our country as President.
Uncle, I share your sentiment. Our dear nation is in trouble. At a time when we were expecting the remaining Chibok girls to return, Dapchi girls were snatched. Their parents are inconsolable. Their relatives are in tatters. Their school mates are daily expecting them to return and wondering if their wish would ever be a reality.
Many out there are looking for jobs that are not available. Not a few have died this week all because what we call medical centres are consulting rooms that they have been since military era. Even the private clinics where we pay through our noses cannot compete outside of our shores.
Uncle, there is graveyard silence in the Niger Delta. Boys have become used to free cash and they use every available excuse to demand cash from contractors handling developmental projects and so on. There is an interesting drama in Bonny and Bodo as I write. The Federal Government and the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited contributed N120 billion and gave it to Julius Berger to build a road that will see people being able to drive from Port Harcourt to Bodo and finally to Bonny, the amazing Island where Nigeria gets billions regularly. But no thanks to internal wrangling between communities and what I suspect to be the give-us-cash syndrome, the project is on hold. What this shows is that the fault is not always in our leaders!
Uncle, officially, we are out of recession but many in their private lives cannot feel this. In fact, millions are in depression.
While I admit, Uncle that things are bad, I must also point out that the party under whose platform you governed for eight years, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was callous in its management of our resources for the bulk of the time it was in charge. Of course, I am the first to admit that this is no excuse for the current government not to change our fortunes like it promised.
Uncle, in Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s award-winning novel Season of Crimson Blossom, a woman was well over 50 before she got her groove and experienced what it really means to be a woman! It is not too late for Nigeria. We can experience the much-desired orgasm even at this age!
And this brings me to what you have to offer. There is no doubt that you have got age on your side. I also believe that you have got the intellect. It is also my opinion that human support should not be a challenge for a man of your caliber.
I certainly have no advice about how you can surmount the obvious challenges and realise your ambition but I certainly have a Nigeria of my dream to share with you.
I want a Nigeria where nepotism is a thing of the past. I want a Nigeria where no one feels left out because of which part of the country he or she comes from.
I seek a Nigeria where epileptic supply of electricity will become a thing of the past. I will be glad that day when our electricity generating sets will only be useful for picnics at beaches and such places where temporary source of power is required.
I want a Nigeria where members of the National Assembly will truly legislate in the interest of the people and not out of any pecuniary interest. I am sick and tired of the current situation where everything but national interest seems to take the first position.
Uncle, I also want a Nigeria where our schools can compete with others in the advanced world. I long for a Nigeria that will cease being a Third World. What is wrong with being a First World?
Importantly too, Uncle, I look forward to a Nigeria where we can reap from medical tourism instead of the current situation where we are the major loser to this trend.
I certainly want a Nigerian whose economy is so robust that we can hold our head high anywhere in the world and our green passport will command respect and not scorn.
Uncle, let me also tell you this; I look forward to a Nigeria where oil takes the back seat and agriculture and tourism take the front seat and contribute more to our foreign exchange earnings and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Oil equals power,” wrote Alain Mabanckou, a Congolese novelist listed as a finalist for the Man Booker Prize in 2015, in his book Lights of Pointe-Noire. He also importantly pointed out that ‘where there is oil, there is war’.
Mabanckou also said: “Oil has screwed up everything between the north and the south.”
I am sure you cannot fault this, given our experience as a nation. Oil should no longer equal power. Enough of the pain of oil. Enough of the silent oily wars. Enough.
Now, we need new songs, not songs of sorrow, not songs of despair, not songs of lamentations, but songs of joy, songs of a country, which experiences orgasm at old age and hold on to it forever!
Can you give me this Nigeria? If yes, so help you God!
Sincerely yours, Olukorede.