By Femi Fani-Kayode
Mr. President, you will recall that I wrote you an open letter on December 28th, 2015 which I sincerely hope that you found most gratifying, illuminating and helpful. That was two days before your Presidential media chat which took place on December 30th. I hereby humbly crave your indulgence to add an addendum to that open letter. That is what this contribution represents.
I hope and pray that this second letter, which will be the last, will further enlighten you and impart a little more wise counsel to you that will result in assisting you to properly appreciate the complexities of our times.
Mr. President it is pertinent to note that approximately two hundred and sixty five years ago one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, said “rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”. I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that he was absolutely right.
Just in case you do not know who Benjamin Franklin was permit me to point out the fact that he is a man that is reverred by the American people and much of the civilised world up until today and he is the individual whose face appears on the one hundred U.S. dollar bills that are used till today.
He was a great statesman, diplomat, politician and intellectual and most important of all he was a deeply courageous man who was motivated by his deepest convictions and his christian values and who was prepared to risk life and liberty and stand up to tyranny.
I guess most Nigerian leaders have much to learn from him especially at times like this. Yet thankfully all is not lost and at least a few of our politicians are beginning to find their voice and speak out against the evil in the land. Permit me to share one example with you.
A few days ago Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of our great party the PDP, exposed the fact that there was an orchestrated attempt by your government to intimidate, silence and utterly decimate and crush the opposition.
In open defiance to what can best be described as this insidious and sinister agenda he told the world that ”President Buhari is not God and we will not worship him”. Whether he knows it or not Metuh has not only spoken for the PDP but also for the overwhelming majority of the Nigerian people.
Permit me to add the following words to his timely contribution. Woe unto those that tremble before men of power and that worship false gods. Destruction and perdition awaits those who bow before Baal, who exalt the servants of Belial, who kiss the ring of the Baphomet, who say ”Buhari is God” and who crawl at the feet of the Lord of the Flies.
Mr. President the point is simple and clear: you are not God and even though we respect your office we will never bow before you, we will never worship you, we will not relent in our efforts to oppose you and, regardless of your constant threats and wicked intentions, we have absolutely no fear of you.
This is because our fate and destiny and the future of our beloved country lies in the hands of the Living God and not in the hands of any misguided and tyrannical dictator. Injustice, persecution and tyranny last only for a season.
At the appointed time the Lord will step in and He will deliver and vindicate the falsely accused and the righteous captive. He will also avenge the spilling of innocent blood and He will fight the cause of the martyrs.
With this in mind and regardless of the dangerous counsel of the hardliners and extremists that surround you, I urge you to please take note of the following: Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, Colonel Sambo Dasuki and Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, who are all political prisoners, must NOT die under mysterious circumstances whilst they are in your custody.
No matter what your advisers and those in your inner circle tell you if, God forbid, this were to happen the fall-out and consequences for your reputation and your administration would be too much to bear.
This brings me to another issue which is a cause for grave concern. Your stated resolve not to obey court orders and to deny Nigerians their right to bail after the courts have given it to them is not only an affront and gratuitous insult to the Judiciary but it is also a violation of the constitution.
I say this because, unlike military dictatorships, democracy enjoys and derives its power and legitimacy from the inviolable and sacred principle of ”separation of powers”.
What this means is that the Executive arm of Government, which by the grace of God you head today, is distinct and separate from the Legislature and the Judiciary.
As head of the Executive and President of the Federal Republic, you have absolutely no power or right to interfere in the processes of the Legislature (which is the National Assembly) or the Judiciary. Both have their own rules, regulations and leadership and the constitution guides them and guarantees them total and complete independence from you.
As a matter of fact they are charged by the laws of our land and the constitution to act as a check and balance on you as President and to ensure that you do not abuse your power or subject your people to tyranny.
Mr. President I watched you on your media chat the other day and I am constrained to tell you that you not only abused your power but that you also crossed the line with some of the things that you said. For example you have no right to tell the courts how to administer justice and who and who not to grant bail. Again you have no business to tell the legislature which laws to pass and how to run their affairs.
Again you have no right and neither do you have the power to pronounce any Nigerian citizen guilty of any crime unless and until a duly constituted court of law has done so. You cannot be the prosecutor, judge and jury in any criminal proceeding and this is especially so when you initiated those proceedings and you are the accuser.
To attempt to do so is not only unacceptable and irresponsible but it is also heartless and unkind. The fact that most of our senior and respected lawyers have refused to tell you this simply because they are scared of you or because they are looking for patronage from your government does not mean that what you are doing is lawful or acceptable. What you are doing is morally and legally reprehensible and it is unacceptable in any democratic and civilized society.
In the same vein you have no right to try to stop members of the opposition or the general public from criticizing you or condemning your obvious failings. Mr. President criticism, opposition and dissent are the lifeblood of democracy and without accommodating and tolerating them you cannot claim to be a democrat.
You have no right to attempt to cower or intimidate the fourth estate of the realm, which is the media, or attempt to pervert and corrupt the Nigerian public with daily doses of lies, falsehood, deceit and propaganda which is being duly and dutifully administered by your Minister of Information and your numerous media aides.
All these things give me and millions of your other subjects concern yet it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps the most disturbing example of your sheer insensitivity was your reaction to the question about Igbo marginalization during the media chat. In response to that question you asked “who is marginalizing who” and went further to ask “what do the Igbo want?”
Mr. President I wish to remind you that it is an incontrovertible fact that in just seven months your government has succeeded in marginalizing the Igbo more than any other Federal Government in living memory and certainly since the civil war.
This is a record that you ought not to be proud of. What the Igbo want is fairness, equal rights, equal representation, equity and respect. They also believe that they have the right to determine their own future and make their own choices.
Mr. President I do not believe that this is too much for them to ask given the fact that they have contributed, perhaps more than most, to national development and integration in the last forty five years?
It is not too much to ask given the fact that no less than three million of their people, including one million innocent children, were slaughtered during our civil war in the name of keeping Nigeria one?
I have no doubt that you will remember this very well Mr. President given the fact that you were one of those that prosecuted that war and fought in it.
You will also remember the brutal mass murder and the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were perpetrated against the unarmed and defenseless Igbo civilian population of Asaba in 1968 when over one thousand of them were rounded up, taken to the town square and shot to death for no just cause.
The soldiers that carried out that unspeakable act of cowardice, brutality and barbarity were under the command of your professional colleague, the late Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed. Mr. President that was a dark, shameful and ignoble chapter in our history which still cries out for justice and reparations.
Needless to say the pain of such horrendous events and numerous others that the Igbo have been subjected to by the Nigerian state and those that control it over the last fifty five years still haunts them.
The truth is that regardless of the obvious contempt that you have for them the Igbo will continue to insist on justice, fairness and on having their rights respected in our country.
If you refuse to address their numerous and legitimate grievances and you refuse to treat them with the understanding, sensitivity and compassion that they deserve, the agitation for self-determination, secession and the yearning for the establishment of a new nation called Biafra will wax stronger and stronger until it reaches dangerous and irresistible proportions.
That is what you are toying with Mr. President and if that were to happen be rest assured that the Yoruba would take a cue from it and so would the people of the Niger Delta. It would effectively signify the beginning of the balkanisation of Nigeria.
Whether you and those with your world view like to hear it or not, that is the bitter truth. May the Ancient of Days grant you the wisdom, knowledge and understanding to accept it and to do something about it. May the Lord of the Universe give you the foresight and the insight to appreciate the fact that Nigeria cannot survive a second civil war.
Mr. President I sincerely hope that you do not take offence at my admonitions and counsel. I speak only out of concern for the fortunes of your administration, your reputation and out of love for my country. God bless Nigeria.
Femi Fani-Kayode was former Aviation Minister.