Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OPEN LETTER TO MRS SARAH JUBRIL (Senior Special Adviser to the president on Ethics and Values)

Dear Madam,

It is with great sense of responsibility and all humility that I write this letter to you, and I hope it meets you well even in the midst of all the challenges we face at this moment in the history of our beloved country.

I wish to state here that as a young Nigerian, I admire your personality. I consider you the definition of tenacity of purpose. Irrespective of how your attempts have turned out, to be the first and only serious female presidential candidate in a male dominated country like Nigeria says a lot about your attitude to life.

However, this letter is a product of months of thoughts and counter-thoughts about the country, our leadership and our people; a system in which you have been a relatively dominant player considering that you have vied for the presidency a record four times since 1991 when you sought the ticket of the then Social Democratic Party (SDP)! What that means to me is that I have seen you as part of my adult life 3 times since you have been asking for my vote since 1999 but then I ask myself, do you think of me and my problems as a young Nigerian when you’re not out trying to be president? Do my plights ever cross your mind?

The beginning of this year was filled with anxiety. I watched as the fuel subsidy removal subject degenerated from being a regular national issue into a major crisis for all of us and saw many Nigerians give different analysis of the situation. Information and opinion leaders from different sectors and different geo political zones of our country have shared their views; blunt, candid, diplomatic and some biased all for our “benefit”. Using different platforms from the traditional media to the now highly potent social media, Nigerians have been educated, pacified, angered and mobilized to fight depending on which side you’re on. All through it, I waited for that motherly voice that represents the influence and significance of our women and our mothers to make a statement to help the situation but heard none.

I remember with sad memories, April 2011. With tears in my eyes, watching the news channel Aljazeera, I saw images of the dead bodies of National Youths Service Corp members that were killed in the post election crisis in Kano and other northern states. It was with more pain that I listened to a live telephone interview with the CPC presidential candidate Gen Muhamadu Buhari in which he avoided making any statement to call the angry rioters to order for the sake of saving the lives of innocent youths whom he aspired to lead and who supported him massively down south from being butchered.

Traumatized mothers cried from all over the country for something to be done to stop the killing of my fellow young people but your voice I found missing. Maybe I was missing something or you used one of those media we all don’t follow but then I asked myself if you were not the one that seemed to represent the Nigerian women or that seemed to fight for the women’s place in Nigerian politics a few months earlier leading to that election. I just did not understand why you didn’t find that situation to be one you should take upon yourself to be fully involved as a mother. Then I ask these questions:

Why do you seem to wait until you need us before you start to take a major visible stand on issues that affect our lives?
Have you imagined how it feels when the next election comes and your names surface again vying to be the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Don’t you think I feel taken for granted when you re-emerge from years of silence asking me to vote for change and give the woman a chance?

I have read some of your past comments on the Boko Haram bombings but coming back to the latest crisis on the Fuel Subsidy removal, I wish to say sincerely that the side of the divide you belong really would not have been a problem to me and many Nigerians as I do not expect you to be against the current PDP led government since you work for them (or with them) even if your conscience was with the people. Suffice to say the Nigerians of today view things beyond political parties but then, as Senior Special Adviser to the president on Ethics and Values, I’m sure you know what Nigerians fought for was actually not just about the fuel subsidy removal but corruption - the degeneration of ethics and values in governance? All through the January ‘Occupy Nigeria’ shutdown I kept wondering if your office really has an influence on governance? Do you really talk to the president to listen to Nigerians?

In one of your very few interviews you stated that the “one vote” you recorded in the PDP primaries in 2011 will continue to haunt Nigerian women, as published by This Day Newspapers you said “That vote was of me, by me and for me. That vote has been seriously pricking the conscience of women, Nigerians, PDP Board of Trustees and the political class. I thank God for not allowing any other vote to cause confusion. I sympathize with the ignorance of the women which is till now affecting the conscience of women in Nigeria. Why are the womenfolk trying to use the media to call me serial contestant sarcastically? I have forgiven them. The political class should stop hijacking the conscience of Nigerian women who constitute the engine of the nation.” Very well said ma, but in addition, maybe the women need to offer more than rallying during elections and consider standing up for issues that matter when the elections are over.

Looking at the qualifications of past Nigerian presidents and yours as a successful educationist and entrepreneur, I believe you have the rights to lay claims to that position as your suitability for the top job cannot be doubted just as I believe there are also many capable women in Nigeria today who can do the job; and whether they admit it or not you have given us a reason to believe that the special moment may come in Nigeria someday for a female President to lead us.

Madam, whether you’re part of this government or not, whether you’re for subsidy removal or not, whether your opinion will be popular or not, I believe your point of view being heard on these major issues will make me believe more that your quests to lead Nigeria are borne out of genuine love for our land. Tell Nigerians how sensitive you are to their plights, tell them how much you believe in their rights to make demands of a government they voted, tell them you know they have the rights to protest. Tell us as a mother why you feel we should try to stay alive in the midst of this protests, tell us how you feel pained by the deaths of the young men from the days of protests, identify with our mothers that call us every morning to say “please stay at home my son”. Then can you ask us to listen to your side of the story.

I believe this is a letter to a true African mother and not to another stranger that claims to know my economy more than I do and wants to confuse me with jargons of macro-economics with little or no regards for my role in driving the micro-economic engine that sustains Nigeria. I believe in Nigeria and will stay here to fix it.

Thanks for your time ma.

Yours Truly,

Keni Akintoye

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