Open Letter to President Jonathan

Posted On : June 16, 2011 | Updated On : June 6, 2012

Dear President Jonathan,

I am not in the habit of writing letters especially when the chance of reaching the intended audience is slim. However, I decide to write you because a few days ago, my nine-year-old daughter asked me if I am proud to be Nigerian. If this letter reaches you, I will tell her that the first reason why I am proud to be Nigerian is that I can reach you as easily as she can reach President Obama.

Let me first say though that her question did not come to me as a surprise. She has seen on CNN the carnage surrounding the elections in Nigeria. She has also heard me complain ad nauseam about the issues Nigeria faces as a nation (something I have vowed not to do in her presence anymore). When she came to Nigeria, she stayed without electricity most of the time. While she was in Nigeria she also noticed that only kids from affluent parents can afford many of the things she considers as basic. All these put together, it is understandable why she is curious to know if daddy is proud to be Nigerian. As she is a child, I did not expect her to understand that the lack of these basic things underscores much deeper issues.

I know that the obvious emotional answer to her question is that, yes, I am proud to be Nigerian. Like many other honest Nigerians, my pride in Nigeria is out of emotions rather than reasons. But as a man who likes reasons more than emotions, I have always emphasized to my daughter the importance of backing her answers up with reasons. To achieve this goal, I formed the habit of throwing her questions back to her. On this occasion, it meant asking her if she proud to be American. I know she has a catalog of reasons why she proud to be American. So, let’s just say that the chickens have come home to roost.

Whatever reasons her young brain can come up with, I know that the main reason why Americans are proud of their country are freedom, liberty, equality and the pursuit of happiness. From an early age, Americans think that these are the core aspect of their nation.

These pivotal aspects of democracy are embedded in the foundation of America as a nation. For instance, when the founders declared that the government of the United States was instituted to protect inalienable rights bestowed on citizens by the creator; - the rights to freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they gave generations of Americans a reason to be proud. It is clear that we have not been so lucky as Nigerians. Yet, these are the cornerstone of democracy; it is from liberty, freedom and cultured desire to pursue happiness that innovations flow. Any democratic nation without these values should not expect to prosper.

Many people think that modern infrastructures make a great nation. True a 24/7 supply of electricity, good drinking water, good schools, beautiful cities with good road networks are important aspects of what makes America a great nation. Yet, what makes Americans proud is a foundation that protected their inalienable rights.

The burden falls on you to lay a foundation that will protect our inalienable rights as Nigerians. It is time to move Nigeria to a time when every Nigerian can question the actions of the government without fear of reprisals. It is when there is a general understanding that Nigerians are equal before the law that to change the trajectory of Nigerian history and I am rooting for you.

As I conclude this letter, let me hope that the next time my daughter asks me if I am proud to be Nigerian, I will give her good reasons why I am proud to be Nigerian.

public officials can be held responsible for their actions.

I urge you to make the declaration that Nigerian government is instituted to protect the inalienable rights of all citizens. I am sure that you are aware that the foundation of a nation provides the framework for its governance and progress, so said Alex De Tocqueville after observing America’s democracy for the purpose of recommending democracy to France. If this statement is relied on, it means that the challenges Nigeria faces today as a nation exist because of its foundation. Nigeria’s foundation is not rooted in democratic values that give Nigerians good reason to be proud. Now is the time

Posted in : African Opinion
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