It seems to be a season of open letters and Fifehanmi Bankole aka FifeBANKS writes a 5-page open letter to the Nigerian people. Find the letter below….
Open Letter to the Nigerian People…..about PDP and the APC
When one thinks of the needless pains and troubles that the majority of the citizens of a fortunate nation like Nigeria have gone through and still going through, it is easy to conclude on many things: failed leadership, foolish followership, flawed systems, weak institutions or in the words of an area uncle, ‘appalling fiasco’.
These may sound like an uncomplimentary view of an ambitious nation seeking to be among the world’s top economies by the year 2020 but the virtuous Nigerian in me – as opposed to the incurable optimist, –does see it as that. The truth is that many people, citizens and foreigners, see it in different light depending on which side of the prism they are looking at and many may agree with me that the sparkles of light that seemed to bring any ray of hope have been but evanescent shooting stars: short-lived.
What exactly is the matter?
I am not happy with the PDP, not because I empathize with APC or because PDP is Nigeria’s problem. No I am not happy with APC, not because they are the ‘opposition’ or because of the ‘virtues’ of its kingpins.
No. I am not happy with the Nigerian media, not because of their rapacious drive to ‘inform’ the populace or their brazen attempt to entrench their tantalizing views in the subconscious of the masses. No. I am not happy with the Nigerian youths, not because they are burdened with potential or because they live on social media.
No. I am not happy with the Nigerian people, not because of their prejudiced pre-election attitudes or their incessant post-election vulnerabilities. No
Let me explain.
Like it or not, the colourful history of Nigeria, with its impressive characters, has not produced a vibrant rainbow but some sort of a haunted enigma that, if continuously ignored, can become a global catastrophe. This is worrisome especially in light of the obvious misplacement of priorities by all stakeholders. The lessons of history are not the exclusive preserve of a privileged few. Yes, things are fallen apart but there is still a country.
Until 2014, I have always believed that journalism is an ephemeral thing and that if anyone wants to write anything for posterity’s sake, they should write a book. But in light of the accumulating open letters which have now become a fad in the polity, I decided to add my thoughts as one of the voices of reason who rather than subject themselves to senseless despondency chose to act; even if the choice is only a commitment to write. But I digress, so let me explain my grouse with the PDP and the APC.
This letter is written to the Nigerian people although I decided to copy the dynamic Nigerian media.
First of all, for those who do not believe that Nigeria has evolved again into a two-party state, I choose not to dispute your views at least not in this letter. Let me begin by saying that for as long as I can remember, or rather since I developed interest in the affairs of state – policy and governance most especially- , I have thought too modestly of politicians but now I know better.
Everyone now knows that PDP, as with most political parties in Africa and across the nations of the world, is an assortment of prodigious and pedestrian personalities who with or without any popular philosophy, a copy and paste manifesto but with a deep understanding of the fractured system, indescribable compromises and by some sheer wittiness have been outpacing the competition. However, the party is just a vehicle; a pan-Nigeria machinery of some sort. Soon after the elections, the real party starts; revelry of mostly incompetent chefs, serving half-baked cake to an amused public whose main interest is to feast and fight on the crumbs that drop from the tables of the ‘elect’. This national sequence which has since become a frequent festival of fools has now brought about two anomalies: a cancerous sickness and a sleep of death. The nation is seriously ill and the party is seriously asleep.
Now, PDP has pushed itself to the center of the maze and though it may not be the cause of the cancer but its attitude, unchecked, is festering the nation’s wound. But then what do you expect of a get-together of birds: some bored eagles, many boisterous ravens, some pigeons and few doves like the incumbent? Well, even the PDP, like the rest of us, are now realizing that calmness is not the only characteristic of a dove, they can be unusually cold and extremely calculative but maybe they also know that a delicate synthesis of caution and action is required to treat certain kinds of cancer and that sometimes you need to feign sleep and see whether your problems will go away. Will they?
The problems won’t go away but some birds can fly…and change nests overnight.
Whatever the case, the treatment of a hydra-headed cancer must not be apportioned to ravens simply because the party is in power but most certainly cannot be left only to doves. Am I saying that PDP politicians are ravens and doves? What I am saying is that you don’t even know if there are politicians, in the real sense of the word, in PDP. Anyway, with the unfolding drama, I think one really becomes a politician when one gets into office, not when you are a candidate or a subordinate.
However, should PDP with its men of yesteryears, fair-weather friends and its well-meaning prospects not have woken up from its alarming reverie a long time ago and not just because of the presumed or promised violence by aggrieved opponents but also because of the deafening decay across all sectors in the country? I mean, how can one be in real power and be really powerless. There are many reasons why I am not happy with the PDP but I will state a few. I am not happy with the PDP because of its slumber in the face of the storm. A little siesta when you’ve rowed the boat awhile and you’re on high waters may be excused but an absolute snooze even before you set sail is inadmissible.
I am not happy with PDP because the only things that bring them out of slumber are violence, threats and elections. I am also not happy with the PDP because the issue is not that they are not scared of the storm and hence assume a position of tranquility, but because the storm continues to rage unimpeded, being fuelled by the legendary cabal whose minions are resident in every party including the PDP. I am not happy because the PDP is failing on the two fronts of curing the nation’s cancer and its own sleeping sickness. I am also not happy because the PDP is not admitting its limitation and the fact that efforts do not equal results.
Ironically, APC is not about being courageous. Yes the concept of APC is not an act of cowardice, for who would have thought that competitors would suddenly connect towards a common cause or a common purse? There are distinct kinds of courage and we must not complicate them. There’s corporeal courage; a physical fortitude in the face of truly outrageous fortune, the stoical valour to endure agony and ignominy while, amongst other things, being the commander in chief of the armed forces, implementing a framework for the emancipation of the people of the Niger Delta and battling heroically with a particularly nasty type of cancer. Y’aradua claimed this kind of courage for himself.
But there’s another form of courage which one will expect from APC and it is this kind of courage that few Nigerians like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa are unequivocally up there with the best the world can offer. This is intellectual courage: the courage to stick by your intellectual ideologies, even when in extremis and deeply allured by the easy succor that a betrayal might seem to proffer.
Like in medicine, APC is peddling ‘alternative’ miracle cures, offered when orthodox medicine appears to be failing. You need either schemes or scams to succeed in the world of alternative medicine, but in the world of alternative politics, you may need both and on grand scales. When the pathologist had read the runes; when the oracles of ‘UX-ray’, ‘China T scan’ and ‘Britopsy’ have spoken and hope is guttering low; when the pacifist surgeon enters the room accompanied by a team of ‘specialists’, ‘technocrats’ and ‘scamocrats’…looking embarrassed…in cloak and robe with a sickle over his shoulder, it is then that the ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ vultures start circling. This is where they come into their own, for there is fortune in hope; the more desperate the hope, the richer the pickings. To be fair, many pushers of dishonest remedies are motivated by an honest desire to intervene but often times their intrusively urgent offers of pills and potions have a sincerity that rises not above the financial greed of their own conclave.
My Dear Nigerian, Have you tried the APC? Since my uncle’s health is not improving with the PDP, may be you should try the APCine, my aunt from the south-west is still alive and she’s been on it for almost eight years after her oncologist gave her only nine months (and well, since you inquire, she’s having PDPtherapy sometimes as well). You have nothing to lose; you might as well try it. It’s NGN1trillion per shot, which does sound a lot but what’s your money when your life is at stake?
As a young Nigerian who has lived with APCine for most of my adult life, I have challenged some friends to check the bottles and read up about some of the ingredients that make up the mixture of this placebo treatment. Sometimes, we have examined, under peer-reviewed double-blind testing, in quest of an evidence in its favour, discovered none (or at least none different from its competitor’s claims), perceived further that the fabricated hopes they aroused could actually be damaging – we are yet to renege on our honesty and we can very much fall back on it when it comes to intellectual courage.
When meticulously analyzed on its merits, the APC response to a PDP blunder is most often not a better, well-meaning solution to the raging disease or even any of its nauseating symptoms but the obvious and usually prompt counter charge is one of arrogance. Far from being rational, wasn’t PDP unreasonable audacity to sleep on a sick polity, an unreasoning overconfidence in raw power, a blind and bigoted refusal to stand up to the challenges of the hour or even to contemplate alternative views of the world? No, no and no. The accusation would stick if and only if you can bet that PDP had not done anything good at all and that APC had suggested superior, sustainable strategies to cure the national cancer or combat its opponent’s sleeping sickness.
But the APC theory (not too democratic anyway) and the implementation of its opposition strategy require intelligent scrutiny. I am not exaggerating here. APC’s alternative style looks like the classic, comic alternative therapies versus orthodox medicine style:
Three official paths to the graveyard (paradoxically, all developed by PDP)
1. CUT! Surgery is only a makeshift; maiming measure that cannot remove the cause of cancer, but it could actually expedite its spread!
2. BURN! Radiation destroys both cancer and healthy cells! Rather X-rays stimulates cancer and subsides resistance!
3. POISON! Pills do not cure and have damaging side-effects!
All these schemes are part of a multi-billion Naira death-mill!
10, 000 Nigerians (mostly APC) per day DIE OF CANCER! 2 in 3 persons, 4 of 5 families, 100 million now living, if PDP is in use beyond 2015, will get CANCER!
I have a feeling that APCON will vet the copy of an ad like this but nonetheless, this is not intellectual courage but complete nonsense: almost every fact in the piece is not a fact at all but, at the very best, a half-truth. Dear Nigerian, is this what APC is really selling as hope?
Allow me some whimsical comparison of certain personalities for a moment. Please use your imagination to tell the better of an erstwhile PDP president and an ex-APC governor. This is like a question of worse alternatives. And that’s exactly what it is. APC may be different but different does not mean better. I am not happy with the APC because of its blurred manifesto, disguised piety and presumed competence. Any idiot can run Lagos, apologies to the movie 3 idiots. Asiwaju did, and BRF too and please do not convince yourself that they are the best thing that can happen in, or to Nigeria. I am not happy with APC because of its apparent recklessness and desperation to clinch higher power when much of its ‘captured’ constituencies are not recuperating from this notorious disease. I am not happy with APC because it is largely undemocratic; selecting rather than electing. I am not happy with APC because with its nest filled with myriads of alternative therapy specialists and con-artists, there still seems no worthy surgeon to lead its intended operation.
But then my biggest stress has not really been on the foregoing. While my desire is not about being swallowed up in the culture of comfortable opposition on the one hand or comfortable compromise on the other, I believe there are things we can do, you and I, to fix the worst bits of the mainstream or build just, sound and sustainable alternatives. Anyway, doing such stuff is not ‘comfortable’ as we constantly question whether what we are doing is part of the solution or not, or whether what we are not doing is part of the problem. Believe me, this constant questioning is tough and stressful but going forward, there’s a tougher question I want to ask you my friend, how are you going to participate in the process of governing you, your family and your loved ones?
I know I may not get answers but I’ll look forward to some tough questions from you. At least, we’ll have somewhere to start.
About the writer: fifeBANKS is a Harvard University-certified Consultant and NCFE, UK-certified Coach. When he is not collaborating with clients (Individuals, Corporations, Organizations and Nation-States) to capture and create value, he engages in philanthropy and writing. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org