Femi Akintunde Johnson (popularly known as FAJ) is one of the most celebrated entertainment journalists in Nigeria.
He edited the entertainment pages of Punch Newspapers in the late 1980s (when it had the best entertainment pages in Nigeria. He was the editor in chief of Climax Magazine, Fame Magazine and Encomium in the 1990s and early 2000s. This is his memo to Atiku and Buhari.
Memo to Buhari, Atiku
By Femi Akintunde-Johnson; [email protected]
; (08182223348 – SMS Only)
Tomorrow, according to the schedule of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is the day electioneering campaigns towards the February, 2019 general elections will start nationwide. With our fixation and seeming adoration for the election year, and all its accompanying drama, exaggerations, shenanigans, revelries, and many other lying arts…our politics, players and “back-up singers” are priming their bayonets and wet blankets to bestride the country as if all is well…or all shall be well as long as we vote for them!
We have been told that 79 candiadates are set to contest the presidential election (please, don’t laugh). We would have been spoilt for choice if some of the presidential mob had been serious over the years in articulating and attacking our numerous problems and distortions.
Obviously, we’re now in a bad shape…such that two of the most likely individuals to win the 2019 presidential election are quite old (72+); were uniformed men; had campaigned many times to lead us; have all sorts of allegations hanging over their heads; have supporters who love them more than their loved ones, and thus can throw the kitchen sink at anyone in defence of their idols.
But the tune this season has to change…we cannot be dancing the same macabre acrobatics of the past 20 years, and hope for a better result. We simply have to ply another, saner route… insist that enough is enough, across board.
We are no longer interested in their war-chest or their legions of die-hards. We just want simple explanations about WHAT they intend to do for us that will make our lives as Nigerians better than in the last 19 years of participatory democracy; and HOW they intend to do so. It’s really quite simple.
So, as the campaigns open, Candidate Buhari and Co-Candidate Abubakar, welcome to our new reality. Will you kindly explain to us your vision, purpose and plans in the following areas:
1. Stabilising and Stimulating the Economy: to lift households and businesses out of the grind of fast-approaching poverty? (Please, while using your past or current efforts as drivers of your arguments, remember our pains are ongoing and genuine; don’t politicise or digress into name-calling and blame-sharing…just explain).
2. The worrying spate of Insecurity and re-arming of the scourge of Boko Haram terrorism. (We have read of all the heinous acts of the past administrations, and the recurrent devastation across the country… we simply ask that you give us new strategies which can drive fear into troublemakers and bring peace to turbulent areas…don’t grandstand, don’t demonise, don’t ask for our prayers, please… what will you do differently?) What are the guarantees of positive results? On what timelines are we aggregating our expectations?
3. Fighting Corruption Pandemic: (I take God beg you, sirs, don’t flaunt your crusade of the past three years as it is obvious to all that corrupt opponents are easier to deal with than friendly rogues…too many examples for us to beg you to refrain from churning out same arguments and “no-travel-lists”. On the other hand, there’s no legacy in our initial 16 years of the fourth republic that we can use as yardstick for how to properly attack corruption… so, sirs, give us new strategies, new ideas, better frameworks and stronger palliatives… the current structure has several k-legs.)
4. Unemployment and Youth Engagement: (The statistics are appalling, the figures are distressing. The latest tagline is that 85m of us are dirt poor, even by third world standards. We now carry the ignominious label of “world’s headquarters of poverty”! Please, don’t engage us on this issue as if you are mesmerised by our misfortune. Show us you care, that you are offended and so incensed that you have mapped out ideas and countermeasures that will not only arrest the monumental disgrace, but begin to lift us onto steady and prosperous highways. Don’t trivialise our situation by quoting disembodied statistics of wonder-working investments and micro interventions that are yet to manifest in most homes.
5. Unity in Diversity: (We vote as Nigerians, but deep down we know we are not united.) Though we are of different tongues, tribes and cultures… we are not unique! Several countries have similar diversity, and have gone ahead to forge unity, harmony, service and sacrifice that have welded them into peaceful and prosperous nations. So, Sirs, what are your plans to take us to a level where our divisions become firewood to cook a giant modern economy, delicious enough to feed all, and managed responsibly to keep on cooking, and dishing equitably to generations, even in the womb of time?
Don’t waste your energies reminding us that the unity of Nigeria is sacrosanct and indissoluble… We hear! What are you doing to make the states work…how do we transit from a country (of 37 statal units) to a nation (of people with shared interests, values, goals and aspirations) competing honorably and progressively for the mutual and shared prosperity of an effective, even-handed federal arrangement? What exactly do you mean by Restructuring? Why are you afraid of Restructuring? Is the current situation working? Be frank and honest? Is it justifiable?! Can we not see it as one of the ills plaguing our growth and dwarfing our potential?
Talk with us, don’t grandstand, don’t pontificate, don’t dribble us…we are not fools, or retards… We know when and how a good house is built…it is not merely about mortar and brick! We understand the difference between a bad and a blessed home. So, Sirs… Explain… don’t abuse. Respond… don’t rebuke. Convince… don’t condemn.
Finally, Sirs, I have no doubt that your supporters and opponents have many other important issues to keep you busy and engaged for a lifetime, but kindly look at these five issues mentioned above, and give us a reason to believe in a great future for Nigeria… give us tangible hope that perhaps our time to sow and grow has indeed arrived.
We are tired of politics of attrition, of big abuses and wonderful allegations… of digging up old misjives as if it’s inhuman to lie or recant, and planting photoshopped images to hoodwink the simple. Even in the midst of the slinging mud and loud-mouthed banalities, say what you mean to do for the sake of the suffering majority, and do exactly what you mean and say. Nothing more, or less. Then, whoever we choose, we shall live the next four years with the consequences of our choice.
Just do your part well, so we can get it right for once! May God Almighty guide you through the valleys and shadows ahead.
All the best in your campaigns.