AN OPEN LETTER TO ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ASO ROCK VILLA ABUJA.
Your Excellency Sir, it is with utmost respect and highest regard for the exalted position you occupy as the numero uno of the most populous country in the African continent, Nigeria that I write as a concerned citizen, seasoned broadcast journalist, thespian and culture enthusiast to appraise the long-awaited compartmentalisation of the erstwhile ministry of information, culture and national orientation. It is, indeed, heart warming to note that your Excellency’s promise of Renewed Hope is hope rekindling and reassuring going by the bold steps so far taken since you took over the mantle of leadership of our dear nation. For once in the annals of the nation we have a president who genuinely set out at the onset to be president and commander-in-chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, dreamt it, envisioned it, and worked assiduously towards making the dream a reality.
The job is beyond a would-be senator or governor who haphazardly finds himself in the driver’s seat of a complex entity as Nigeria. Arguably the 2023 general election like a few others before it was believed in many quarters to be a make or mar election for our belagaurd nation. Will Nigeria survive and still remain one indivisible entity, was the sing song on the lips of many political pundits. So much so, that the number one police of the world, USA handed us a verdict of a fail state way back 2015.
The odds notwithstanding the much talked about 2023 election contrary to the expectations of nay sayers has come and gone, and by any standard cannot be described as the worst since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999. Of course, there is no talking of wrestling power from the military without a special chapter being devoted to the patriotic roles played by your good self as a frontline NADECO member. The tale of emergency rice contractor by Africa’s first nobel laurete, the world renowned literary icon Professor Soyinka at Tinubu’s colloquium encapsulates the pivotal role your Excellency played in the struggle for the actualisation of June 12 election won fair and square by Africa’s pillar of sports, the most colourful politician late chief MKO Abiola, the martyr. Unfortunately not even your track record of political sagacity resourcefulness, dogged determination, administrative acumen, and financial wizardry could sway your opponents that it has pleased the one who enthrones and dethrones, the all knowing God to redress the injustice of monumental proportion unleashed on Nigeria by the callous annulment of June 12 election and subsequently crowning your tireless efforts with unassailable victory and ensuring your inauguration as the president and commander-in-chief of Nigeria despite orchestrated mischief, betrayal, subterfuge and vilification. For this mission accomplished, may I join your millions of die-hard supporters in congratulating you and wishing a successful, purposeful and impactful tenure.
Is there any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as Nigerians go through excruciating pain occasioned by the bitter pill of subsidy removal which has virtually impoverished already pauperised people of an immensely blessed country? Why is it that it is the “common man” that must always bear the brunt of mis-governance and looting of our common patrimony by the politically exposed elite, its greed and avarice. Is this the first time we are hearing of subsidy removal? How sincere are we with hackneyed promise of rejiging the moribund refineries? Who are these untouchable subsidy scammers, how culpable are the ordinary citizens in diversion of PMS to neighbouring African countries and crude theft. These are the concerns of my people as they applaud your resolve to walk the talk in the fight against corruption, turn around the economy and make a huge difference.
As the thorn in the flesh of oppressive and corrupt African leaders, Kongi look forward to his 90th birthday, what bigger gift can the Renewed Hope administration offer him than the birth of a new Nigeria. Certainly not a Nigeria where “Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” lampooned in his UnLimited liability (Ethical Revolution). If you steal 10 kobo they put you for prison, if you steal 10 million nah patriotism. You go get chieftaincy title and national honour, If you steal even bigger dem go say nah rumour- monkey dey work, baboon dey chop sweet pounded yam, some day e go stop”. Nigerians await you.
Nigerians have cogent reasons not to trust their leaders as promises of Eldorado more often than not translate to more suffering other than oasis in the desert. What sloganeering have we not been fed with on self reliance in food production. Green Revolution of President Shehu Shagari aptly describe as “Green Revolution in Government Paper” (media) apology to Kongi, created more rice merchants than rice growers. What did we make of thrice lucky Ex President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Operation Feed the Nation or is it Operation Fool the Nation?
At the inauguration of “locally” produced rice (ofada) in a state in the South West, for which I ran live commentary for the largest television in the Sub- Saharan Africa (NTA) former President Muhammad Buhari reiterated his usual slogan “we must grow what we eat and eat what we grow”. Alas! the pyramid-like rice disappeared from market few weeks after the fanfare. This scenario is what ace Tribune columnist Sulaimon Olanrewaju in his piece of 28th February, 2022 “Borderless” described as penchant for making promises without any iota of intention to fulfil them. Quoting George Bernard Shaw “The Repetition of History is Nothing but a Proof of Man’s Inability to Learn From Experience”. If we keep repeating the mistakes of the past we cannot stop history from repeating itself. More than ever before Nigerian’s who invested their time, energy and resources have unwavering commitment to your success, so failure is not an option. Why do Nigerian leaders end it up a colossal fiasco despite tremendous goodwill, political expediency overrides good intention, while meritocracy is sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity?
As a tested and trusted leader who has proven his mettle in the past. We in the art sector are happy to have a stand alone, Culture ministry and a fully fledged ministry of Tourism. With the preponderance of culture experts across the land and your knack for always gunning for the best, I foresee a new, greater and more prosperous Nigeria.
Nigeria, no doubt, is a cultural power house on the international stage attracting global recognition. We are talking of a nation with over 250 ethnic groups, each with its unique artistic expressions, traditional Nigeria art forms such as pottery, sculpture, mask-making and delicious cuisine. What about Nigerian music and film industries which are also playing crucial roles in promoting Nigerian Art globally. As the saying goes “there’s no soldier so powerful to stop an idea of which time as come”. Time to beam the searchlight on tourism and culture is now, if we must move beyond paying mere lip service to diversification of the nation’s economy.
Let’s harness this legion of talented creatives making waves globally. Our culture is exportable, Njideka Akunyile Crosby, Yinka Shonibare (MBE) a British Nigerian, Peju Alatise, a multidisciplinary artist, El Anatsui, a sculptor, Kehinde Wiley known for his distinctive portrait who gained recognition for his official portrait of Barrack Obama, contemporary Nigerian painters, Jelili Atiku a multimedia performance artist, member of Arterial Network are doing something big in this regard.
Nollywood is another money-spinning industry considering the impact of Nigerian Film makers in the international movie industry. It produces the largest member of films showcasing Nigerian talents Genevieve Nnaji’s directional debut with “LionHeart” earned critics acclaim and became Netflix’s first Nigerian Original Movie, Oprah Winfrey in 2009 dubbed Genevieve as “Julia Robert of Africa”. Kunle Afolayan’s film such as Figurine and October 1 have received and still keep attracting global recognition and awards, while Tunde Kelani’s films which explore Nigerian culture and tradition have been screened at prestigious film festivals worldwide. Doing his own thing in his corner of the world is ace cinematographer Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin, Dudu, who has been playing crucial roles in the Nation’s cultural landscape since the 70s. Also worthy of note is that documentary “What’s wrong with Nigeria” produced by Andrew Young foundation, the documentary won the first place at the Zuma National Film Festival 2010, Abuja.
Can we downplay the role of Nigeria Art Galleries in promoting international exposure, ask the likes of multi-gifted culture connoisseur Tunde Odunlade of Tunde Odunlade Arts and Culture Connexions whose gallery at Bodija, Ibadan is a must visit by tourists across the globe. What about Engineer Yemisi Shyllon a private individual reputed as the biggest collector of African arts in the world and the largest Art collector in Africa and proprietor of world’s standard private museum (Omo Oba Yemisi Shyllon Muesum).
My Excellency Sir, what are we waiting for, we have a new oil in our hands- the black gold discovered in 1953 at Akata near Eket and later Oloibiri the fossil fuel in 1956 in commercial quantity is fast running out. Creativity is inexhaustible we have the brains, all we need do is put square pegs in square holes not round pegs in square holes, the bane of our developmental challenge. When the white men looted our artifacts then they thought they have taken it all, but they only took the arts but failed to remove the craft our creative ingenuity.
What can man do without food, absolutely nothing, as we target working on achieving the greatest good for greatest number of people. No effort must be spared in ensuring abundance food availability. An hungry man they say is an angry man, food is an essential ingredient for man. As God ordered in the beginning of creation “Let there be light”, our Excellency Sir let there be food on the table of Nigerians. No Nigerian will go to bed hungry, so promised MKO Abiola of blessed memory “Aare wa eru to wa nile yi o too pin t’a o ba so ju kokoro”.
There is enough for everybody’s need not everybody’s greed!
News and Current Affairs NTA (rtd)
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