Trying harder, next time

Dearest Buhari,

Trying harder, next timeI am just watching the images from the burial of dozens of people murdered in Benue by armed men who have been alleged to be “herdsmen” in what has also been referred to as alleged reprisal attacks. The images were difficult to see. However, I also read people attack you for not being present and for not sending a delegation or message, even though you sent a message to a few foreign countries that had terror attacks. I think I know why.

First, if your own child is ill and in bed, you do not dress up and make elaborate visits to your child. Whereas, if say an acquaintance of yours who lives far away is hospitalised, you will take a shower and buy fruits packed properly and take them to the hospital. The people of Benue should be able to read your body language and heart. Just like I do.

More importantly, however, I think that all of the complaints, about poor electricity, about rampant corruption, about nonexistent or broken down infrastructure, about widespread violence and kidnapping, about horrific police brutality,  about incessant fuel shortages and queues are things you need the energy of a second term to end. People should think of it as a long distance race. When you have several laps to run, you do not begin by sprinting the way you would in a 100-meter dash. You will only end up exhausting yourself. You begin slowly (like you did by spending many months thinking about which Ministers to appoint for example) and then pick up the pace as you go. Then when you get to the last lap (this would be your second, and last term in office) you can sprint to the finish line. I think Nigerians should just accept this slow jog and then re-elect you so that in your second term you can do all these things, like speaking up when Nigerians face a tragedy and not wait to be dragged out (by then, people like Atiku would have lost and not be in campaign mode pretending to care about Nigerians). That is all we need. Not good roads or an end to corruption or a responsive leader or an end to violence or respect for the rule of law by our security agencies. We need a second term. For with a second term all [good] things are possible.

So, I was reading the comments Trump made about certain countries, calling them “shitholes”. I think Trump has been reading too much Nigerian, Kenyan and South African Twitter with all those ungrateful people complaining about their countries and in effect referring to their own nations as shitholes. This is why I don’t like Nigerians who talk about the absence of proper healthcare (I mean your own son couldn’t get proper treatment in Nigeria but did you go to Twitter to bad mouth Nigeria?) or bad roads or poor education. Now Trump has insulted us. Also, I think, technically, every country is a shithole if you look closely. I mean, think of the millions of people who go to the toilet every day in every country, especially the countries where people mostly shit in toilets. (Better the ones where people do open defecation and it doesn’t have to go into a hole.) Technically, this fact of millions of people having “shit” in the ground makes every place a shithole. So Trump should be careful how and where he points his fingers.

I just think that maybe we should write the American Embassy in Abuja and invite the ambassador to explain in detail which countries. Because maybe he wasn’t even referring to Nigeria. It is like someone pointing to a crowd and saying “You people are stupid”. Sometimes the person may not have seen everyone. Maybe his mother is in the crowd and he doesn’t know. Or his teacher from primary school. Or his wife’s brother. Then when it is revealed that he knows someone he will say, “oh you know I am not referring to you, I mean the others.” Maybe it is like this. We can only know if we invite the US ambassador to give a comprehensive list of shithole countries.

Darling, can we look at this issue of farmers and settled communities versus pastoralists? Especially in the dry season when we know that the pressure on land and water sources becomes even more acute? Or maybe we can just do nothing until your next term in office abi? Yeah, on second thoughts, let’s do nothing. We will tackle it after elections. We will send condolences when people die.

Ps. My weekly reminder: Please think of the Shiite man who is still in prison, whose children and followers we massacred and buried in Kaduna. Do not let him die in your custody. It is never too late to do the right thing. Especially now as we enter 2018. Release him, his wife and his people. Especially as we flag off this 2019 campaign season. We can even use it to score political points. I know you want to. Hugs.

Yours until 2023 and forever

Elnathan John

Abdulazeez Author

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