This is for the President-elect

Please, permit me to start this letter with a quote by Chilean writer, Isabel Allende, “What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power, and the power to abuse.” Isabel, a victim of the Pinochet military dictatorship, is not alone. Mr President-Elect, Bola Tinubu, I write this open letter to you to draw your attention to the grave dangers facing Nigerians as a people, our beloved country as a nation and our democracy as our hope, at this critical time.

Our freedom is being curtailed and our economy is run over and our only hope of bringing about change- our democratic expression is being smothered before our eyes. There is no gainsaying that Nigeria today is a diminished nation, teetering on the abyss of disintegration, badly in need of actual, determined and practical leadership. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty, but also essential to the common search for the truth and the well-being of society as a whole.

I make bold to say I am one of the few courageous people who will rather speak truth to power and damn its consequences. In a democracy, leaders are elected to lighten the burden of the people, give them freedom, choice and equity and ensure good governance and not to deceive them, rob, burden, oppress, render them hopeless and helpless. Nothing should be done to undermine the tenets and values of democratic principles and practice.

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You are the president-elect of Nigeria, we acknowledge you and respect you as such. The kind of leader Nigeria badly needs at this critical moment of its existence is one that has the mind, the will and  the strength of character to live above the parochial interest of a few cronies at the expense of public good.  No interest should be higher or more important than Nigeria interest to you. You have already made history and please, do nothing to break it.

The act of an individual has a way of robbing off on the generality. May it never be the wish of the majority of Nigerians that Bola Tinubu, by his acts of omission or commission, will be the last president of a united Nigeria. My last piece of advice to you, president-elect, is that you should learn the lesson of history and please, do not take Nigeria and Nigerians for granted. In any electoral contest, we urge you to allow the democratic wish of the people to prevail. As a leader of all, it is imperative you move away from the crude politics of imposition and manipulation of institutions of state that are supposed to be fair, neutral and unbiased.

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We need to remind you, Mr President-elect, that what became the Waterloo of the first indigenous government is its mishandling of the electoral system and its partisan involvement in the Western Regional crisis. For as long as the evils of poverty, greed, and a perversion to the rule of law continue to rule our land, the leadership question will continue to be a recurring issue in our polity. These are not ordinary times; as such, they require extraordinary solutions. It is our collective duty to prevent our country from sliding into an era of deceptive silence or stolen voices. We cannot afford to be indifferent to what goes on around us, because our indifference, more than any other thing, may mark the final death of democracy or our dreams for societal and self-improvement.

Mr President-elect sir, if the truth must be told, to change the narrative and redeem the image of the judiciary, as the number one man in the executive, you have a huge role to play. You must muster the courage and the political will to do what is right rather than what is politically expedient. We deserve a democracy that is accountable to the people at all times, a democracy which promotes equal rights and justice. We desire politicians that have respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance. We desire credible individuals who are ready to uphold the provisions of an acceptable people- oriented constitution, which is sacred. We looked up to you, as the father of all Nigerians to uphold and defend the foregoing values. There is no gainsaying that strong institutions are the bastion of democracy.

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Finally, we need the right institutions, formal and informal, that would guarantee a self-correcting process, a Darwinian society where people are motivated to do the right thing because they will get rewarded, and avoid the wrong things because they will get punished. That would be the greatest legacy of any government in power- not any five point agenda or any transformation agenda.


  • Lanre Aminu, Convener, Oodua Youth for Good Governance, Lagos

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