Premium Times (Abuja)

24 March 2014

Nigeria: An Open Letter to the Jonatithes

opinion

Dear Jonatithes;

I must apologize for not writing sooner to welcome you to our great capital city. I was a little bit confused as to the protocol of welcoming men and women to a city they visit often and where many of them have homes. But then I saw the government was bleeding the treasury to make you all comfortable and suddenly, the folly of my ways dawned on me.

Everyone knows the government cannot be wrong. They have information that even supermen do not have. They have seen the future and they know you all have needs. Abuja is an unforgiving city. The competition is intense yet all the street folks see is the exaggerated tales of corruption.

Sometimes I think many of us Nigerians are very rude. Here you are, in Abuja, trying to re-shape the fortunes of our country and we can't even roll out the red carpets. Instead we're all complaining about your salary. Do these people know who you are?

What in the name of wealth is N4m a month! You know what that breaks down to? A mere N200, 000.00 a day for the sixty or so days you will really work in the next three months! Now, if the cries that you're living too large is not insulting, I don't know what is.

What can N200, 000.00 buy these days? I've heard people say in most countries people will gladly work for their country for free for three months. I laugh when I hear and read that because we are not any country. We are Nigeria and we don't roll that way. I mean, we're so cool Robert Mugabe is taking jibes at us for corruption.

I will let you in on a little secret. I'm hoping this becomes a regular thing. At this rate, I may just make it into a constitutional conference at 80. N200, 000.00 a day, with some adjustment for inflation. That will be a cool way to retire.

By the way, I hope you brought your kids along. Isn't it funny you're all in Abuja to reshape the future of our dear Nigeria just when you're mostly on your last legs? Think of it, when the Ahmadu Bellos, Azikiwes and Awolowos went to London to negotiate the future of our country with the British caretakers, they were in their 30s and 40s; their future was still ahead of them.

But, you whom the lords of Abuja have entrusted with rejigging this little experiment the British thought would have collapsed by now are grandfathers and grandmothers. I had a curious encounter the other day with an older man. A teenager had angered him and he gave him the look of a man who is about to ruin the young kid. I wonder if you have those thoughts some times. After all you're not gonna have to carry the can for whatever decision you make in the next three months.

I've been looking at the list of delegates and thinking deep thoughts. I was wondering, do you all feel collectively guilty? Do you feel guilty that you whom Nigeria spent a lot of money training, you who had scholarships and free education, you who had a great life in public and private service, you who destroyed the future that we live in today, you who killed the hope of the future. I wonder if you feel any guilt for the past you managed so wrongly.

If you think of it, most of you went to school in the golden 60s, 70s and 80s when life still had meaning and when you could put Nigeria and a glorious future in the same sentence and not think of having your head checked. Back then, the government spent a fortune training you and settling you into public and private service. It was you and your peers that decided that the balance in the treasury and the future balances should take a short trek to your accounts

Do you have any guilt that you are the ones that are being asked to define our future? Do you have any guilt that you're doing it without those whose future you should worry about? Do you really think you can give us hope for the future? Do you ever pause to think that the next three months may just be a whole lot of talk about nothing?

Do know something though; I do feel your pain. I think it's really wrong for anyone to put you in Abuja without consideration for hangers-on or what the Nigerian elite call aides. Who is supposed to get you companions? Who is supposed to feed you, clothe you and drive you around? Do they expect you to think for yourselves? And, pray - what makes those elected representatives so special that they have to have aides and you do not.

By the way, I hope you like the way I addressed you. It was a tough thing to coin. I have no clue how to address you. The Senators are called distinguished, the house of representative members are called "honorable". Since you all are creations of President Goodluck Jonathan, I think you're his apostles. How does Jonatithes sound?

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