Love Letter To My Country Me By; Pat Chukwuemeka

Greetings my beloved compatriots.

Please permit me to share this message of love with you. I pray that the Almighty will open your minds to digest and ponder on the content for the greater glory of our dear nation.

The greatest teacher that ever walked the face of the earth used parables to illustrate his teachings. This resort to allegory has resonated with his followers over the centuries and deepened their understanding of his homilies on love, piety and charity. I will attempt to borrow that time-worn and effective approach by prefacing this epistle with an allegorical clip as a way of simplifying my message and laying it bare for even the unschooled to discern and juxtapose against other letters and commentaries flying around on the state of our nation.

Here goes. Mr. Airegin (hereafter known as Mr.A) was earning a princely monthly salary of #1,000,000.00 in his workplace. He felt on top of the world and went on a wild binge, spending his salary recklessly to the last dime on debauchery and frivolities and neglecting to address his responsibilities or planning for the future. He was also taking loans to augmenting his big boy status and depleting his savings. His family was living it up without a care in the world and earnestly believed that they were enjoying. Before long he proclaimed himself the money bag of his neighborhood. And his ignorant family blissfully lapped up the deceitful fiction. After a while his organization went through a rough patch and his salary was reviewed downwards to #200,000. His standard of living was automatically downgraded to a fraction of what it was before. In essence Mr.A was staring at ruination and bankruptcy. Unpaid bills, high debts, minimal savings, bounced checks now became part of his life. No more champagne, foreign vacations, state-of-the-art cars, lavish parties, Chinese restaurants, imported rice and other luxuries. Things had fallen apart and the centre could no longer hold.

With nowhere else to turn to and realizing that he and he only he is the architect of his woes, Mr. A decided for the sake of his children to clean up his act and recover himself from the abyss he had dug himself into. He then set about the prudent management of his depleted resources by cutting out all lavish spending, plugging the leaks in his budget, addressing the areas of his life that needed immediate attention and diversifying his stream of income to boost his revenue. Lo and behold, things started picking up gradually even though some members of his household were chafing at the bits and making scathing remarks about their CHANGED circumstances and how they were dying of hunger. They conveniently ignored the nexus between their present state and their prodigal past.

 

THAT IS EXACTLY THE STORY OF NIGERIA PRE AND POST 2015. To buttress this assertion, let’s look at the facts and nothing but the facts. Let us for a moment cast aside our prejudices, our political leanings, our primordial sentiments, our perceived grievances and our intellectual pretensions and posturing. Let us look at the following facts dispassionately, objectively and critically devoid of any jaundiced misconceptions we harbour about a certain political actor. Let us do a comparative analysis of two different dispensations in our recent history and know why “Nigerians are suffering”. This is not a blame game. It is an acceptable practice worldwide especially in the advanced democracies to compare and contrast different administrations in the life of a nation. That is the only way we can make informed choices in choosing our leaders. So it is not unusual for instance to have Americans compare Carter vs Reagan, Clinton vs Bush or Obama vs Trump administrations. In the interest of simplicity I will for now stick to the present and GEJ’s administrations and leave out the OBJ years with its baggage of titanic proportions; wasted trillions on energy, 3rd term brouhaha, Lagos state funds debacle, unsolved assassinations and the decimation of Odi and Zaki Biam.  

Dr Goodluck Jonathan (Ebele and Azikwe have been conveniently dropped) and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Ex-World Bank Vice President) and a stellar cast of technocrats were opportune to superintend between 2010 and 2015, the highest oil earnings in Nigeria’s history during a five-year period of unprecedented oil boom. Nigerian real net oil export revenue within this period was well above $445 billion. (Source OPEC Revenue Fact Sheet and Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S Department of Energy). We have not forgotten how Dr. Jonathan infamously quipped during an interview that America knows everything while he was trying to defend Diezani Allison Madueke’s shenanigans in the Petroleum Ministry. Yes President Jonathan, America truly knows everything and we also knew what they have always known. It is no wonder the U.S State Department described your administration as a cesspit of corruption and sleaze and the worst thing to ever happen to Nigeria.

Now what did we see in the light of the superabundance? Nothing but a long sorry and sad tale of woes that would even make the devil shudder. Where do we even start from? Our external reserves fell from $60 billion to a little above $20 billion. Our Excess Crude Account was depleted. Federal Government was borrowing to pay salaries. Most of the states were technically bankrupt and couldn’t pay salaries, some for up to 12 months or more. Accumulated contractor debts ran into billions of dollars thereby stopping all major construction works. Nigeria’s credit rating was severely downgraded. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was at an all time low having declined from $8.8 billion in 2010 to $1.3 billion in 2015.

Infrastructure was not improved. Energy sector was bleeding. Unpaid salary arrears and pensions were the norm. # 600 billion fuel subsidy and #60 billion fertilizer subsidy bills were left unpaid. The capital market was stuttering. Boko Haram was practically controlling three North-East states, with bombs going off here and there including Abuja, the nation’s seat of power. This was despite the billions that supposedly went into arms purchase.

At this point in time Nigeria was practically on life support and below ground zero. Ironically WE THOUGHT WE WERE ENJOYING! We didn’t know we were living on our capital. Like we say in Igbo language, “Anyi no na eri ishi ego anyi”. We didn’t know we were dancing with borrowed robes. We didn’t know that our future was being mortgaged. We didn’t know we were living a false life built on a sepulchral and gutted edifice. We didn’t know that corruption in high places which had frittered away our commonwealth was fueling our lives, our economy and our psyche. We didn’t give a hoot about a day of reckoning. After all the powers that be had crowed that our economy had been rebased and was now the biggest in Africa. So let the good times roll. Everything was built on consumption. Ka anyi n’eri ife n’ego di nyafu nyafu. Our huge import bill was shafting our reserves and our future. The unofficial motto of the party in power was SHARE THE MONEY. And that became the national mantra. 

And then the bubble burst on May 29, 2015. A man that had been demonized, castigated, spit on, described variously as a marauding Islamist, analog gerontocrat and bumbling illiterate assumed the reins of power by nothing less than divine intervention. He looked into our books and was scandalized by the rot, the sleaze, and the cannibalized remains of our commonwealth. To worsen matters, the crude oil market crashed just before he took over and he had very little resources to work with. According to the earlier mentioned OPEC Revenue Fact Sheet and U.S Energy Information Administration, our crude oil earnings between 2015 – 2017 stood at $52 billion or about 12% of Jonathan’s earnings over five years. Now what did this maligned and misconstrued gentleman do? He staked his integrity, sacrificed his retirement, overcame his health challenges, ignored his traducers, girded his loins and set a three point agenda for his administration; Economy, Security and Anti-Corruption. Let us now see how he fared within three years. Not five years and not eight years.

ECONOMY.

(Including Infrastructural Development and Social Investment)

This administration came on board and met a recession with its roots in the previous government misrule. It then put in place an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which aims to Restore Growth, to Invest in the Nigerian People and to Build a Globally Competitive Economy. In addition to that, series of bailout funds to the tune of 2 trillion naira were made available to the states for accrued salary arrears and contractual obligations. It is disheartening to note that the ragtag army of Buhari bashers has never deemed it fit to interrogate how the states deployed this windfall. That is even assuming they know the names of their governors or keep track of happenings in their respective states.

Our external reserve which had dropped to $29 billion owing to our consumptive mania was boosted to $47 billion. 600 billion naira fuel and 60 billion naira fertilizer subsidy bills were paid off. Inherited salary and pension arrears dating back to OBJ era were paid off, including Nigerian Airways, Nitel staff and Biafran policemen. There is also the reactivation of 11 abandoned fertilizer blending plants thereby crashing the price of fertilizer down to #5,500 from #15000.This has kicked off a real agricultural revolution  that has turned many farmers into millionaires and cut down the importation of rice from Thailand by 60%.  There is also the reactivation of the Delta Steel Rolling Mill Aladja. This mill which is an invaluable tool for local industrialization had been abandoned for the past 20years. And the resuscitation of the Mambilla power plant, another abandoned albatross dating back to donkey years. This administration has embarked on the expansion of the Standard Gauge lines to traverse the length and breadth of the country. This is a far departure from the former policy of buying refurbished coaches for an inadequate rail network.  PMB used $2.3billion to increase the nation’s energy output to 7,000 MW as against the $16 billion that OBJ and GEJ used to achieve a miserly 3,000 MW. The administration has also embarked on a massive road construction drive nationwide including Lagos-Ibadan, Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Katsina Ala, Enugu-Onitsha, Enugu-PH, Owerri-Aba and the 2nd Niger Bridge.

Recruitment of an initial batch of 200,000 beneficiaries under the N-Power scheme with more batches on stream. #108 billion saved so far from the TSA scheme that President Jonathan created but failed to implement.
Utilizing the BVN scheme to detect ghost workers and other economic saboteurs who have been using the banking sector to milk the nation dry. Coming up with the Voluntary Income and Asset Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to increase tax awareness and compliance and reduce incidence of tax evasion. Anchor Borrowers & GEEP schemes powered by CBN and BOI that have provided soft loans to hundreds of thousands of small and medium scale beneficiaries to grow their businesses.
Recording a whopping #4 trillion by FIRS including #972.3 billion from VAT. Attracting $4.6 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) the third highest in Africa after Angola and Egypt after 5years of decline during GEJ’s tenure.

Successfully issuing two Eurobonds of $45 billon, SUKUK bond of 100 billion naira, Diaspora bond $300 billion and Sovereign Climate bond, the first in Africa. All of them directed at improving our nations infrastructural architecture.  School feeding scheme in 20 states and counting.
Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of #5000 to 25,000 less privileged Nigerians in 9 pilot states. Declared one of the ten best performing economies by the World Bank. And best performing stock exchange in the world with 13 trillion naira transactions, an all time record in the history of our stock exchange. Promoting Local Content with the designation of Innoson Motors as a major supplier to the armed forces which has prompted the company to recruit an additional 3,000 staff to meet up with their orders. Engaging Aba Tailors and shoe makers to supply the uniform kits for NYSC, Military, Road Safety Corps and other para-military agencies.

 

CORRUPTION

The staggering revelations of corrupt practices under the Jonathan administration is unprecedented in the history of this country. The mindboggling refunds and forfeitures running into billions of naira is more than enough reason for us to consider the China Treatment for corrupt public officers. The Hall of Shame cuts across political office holders, military top brass, top civil servants, fugitive militants and cronies of the last administration. Some of these shameless thieves are presently asking for out-of-court settlements and plea bargains. We have been regaled with reports of how stupendous sums of money in foreign currency (more than the combined budget of several African countries) were ignominiously withdrawn from the Central Bank few days to the elections to prosecute Jonathan’s re-election bid in 2015. Another case in point of how our treasury was raped is the fact that Jonathan attended the UN General Assembly with a 604-man delegation while Buhari went there with just 17 people.

For the 16years PDP was in power, JAMB was remitting only about #3million annually to the government treasury, while Buhari’s appointee (a distinguished scholar and former Vice-Chancellor who was derided by wailers as a mere Arabic teacher) remitted a whopping #11billion in just one year. It was in the course of his investigations into the past accounts of the board that we uncovered the case of how a snake mysteriously swallowed millions. In their crass ignorance, wailers and haters failed to recognize that this happened under their revered hero, Ebele Azikiwe.

Do we talk about the Customs Service that is now reporting revenues in the tens of billions as against the mere #2 billion it was generating annually before now.Or the NPA that is presently generating #229.6 billion against #12 billion annually under Jonathan. Intel one of Atiku’s companies just paid #13 billion to the government as part of the present anti-corruption drive. Even judges were not left out of the jamboree as some of them brazenly consorted with litigants and their counsels to pervert the course of justice. It is no wonder a good number of them have been eased off the bench. Notwithstanding the delays and loopholes in our justice system, the EFCC has managed to record some successes in bringing the kleptomaniacs to book. Recent examples are the jailing of Sam Omatseye, former MD of NIMASA and the green light by the Supreme Court for the Father Christmas of our time Dasuki to proceed with his trial and quit further quibbling.

 

SECURITY
Not quite long ago, Boko Haram was practically in control of three North-Eastern states, planting their flags indiscriminately over conquered territory, decimating our gallant but ill-equipped soldiers, pillaging and plundering whole towns without any challenge. Bombs were going off regularly in public places, worship centers and even in Abuja. But this administration came in and routed the sect and succeeded in recovering lost territories. Like the cowards they are and which is characteristic with most terrorists of their ilk worldwide, they now go after soft targets once in a while. There is no doubt however that their strength has been decapitated and what we are witnessing now is the death throes of a dying serpent. The vipers that kept this country down over the years have fought back in different ways, one of which is to breach the security of the nation and make it ungovernable. They have sponsored an insurrection in the South-East, militancy in the South-South and fake herdsmen in the North-Central regions. But their devilish machinations will always come to naught. Nigeria pass them.

 

BOTTOM LINE
In effect the Buhari administration has under 3 years used just 12% of the resources at Jonathan’s disposal to achieve what he could not do in 5 years or even the whole 16 years of PDP misrule. Judging from this, it is only an incorrigible hater or a deluded wailer or a twisted mind that will say that Buhari is not working or that Nigeria is not making progress even with the acute resources constraint.

I am reminded of a recent comment here on facebook by a shameless so-called educated wailer to the effect that even if Buhari constructs all the roads in Nigeria, reduces the unemployment rate to 0% and makes $1 equal to #1, he and his fellow looted brains will still not vote for him. Which only goes to show that the present Buhari-bashing we are witnessing is nothing else but an ungodly and demonic hatred that has no rhyme or reason.

Most worrisome is the role being played by CAN in this sordid dance macabre. After many years of commingling with OBJ and Jonathan, CAN seems to have lost its focus and cannot now decide whether it is the religious arm of PDP or a political party or a brood of crybabies whose lollypop has been snatched away. It’s not surprising because the era of receiving stolen millions as tithe is over, the era of using their private jets to ferry laundered money in the name of buying arms is over, the era of escorting the President to Jerusalem is over, the era of receiving millions to sway the votes of their flocks in the elections is over and the era of being a partner in the squandering of our treasury is over. CAN really needs to seek God’s forgiveness for their role in putting this country in its present penurious state or else God’s judgment on them will be cataclysmic.

There are also those of our countrymen whose grouse is that Buhari has not yet turned stone to bread or water to wine simply because he promised CHANGE. Their idea of change has been conditioned by the perverse teachings of the merry band of gods of men who promise their flock all kinds of quick-fixes from prosperity to dubious healings. The natural order of planning, execution and nurturing of endeavours has thus been supplanted with a doctrine that encourages sloth and laziness. Even the Good Book teaches about a time for everything. A time to plant and a time to harvest. But they will not have any of that. Exercising patience while the seeds being planted by this administration to germinate and blossom is out of the question for them.

This is reminiscent of the Israelites in the wilderness that kept on haranguing Moses and wishing for a return to their previous bondage under Pharaoh.These fellows wants their CHANGE sharp-sharp. No time to waste. To them CHANGE means reaping without sowing.
Even the ones that ran to Europe, Asia, America and Australia to scrounge a living, stay ensconced in another man’s land to haul abuses at their country and denigrate a man who has chosen to right the wrongs of the past that made them run away to greener pastures in the first place. All the woes that have plagued this great nation from 1960 till date are now placed on Buhari’s doorsteps.  

Yes there have been some missteps by this administration. But we are governed by men and not angels. Some of these hiccups are being addressed and some could have been avoided. But on the whole, if the truth be told, much has been achieved. The cries of “people are suffering” sound hollow and uncharitable if we take into account where the rain started beating us. The greatest nations on earth all went through this phase of making hay while the sun shines before they got to where they are presently. There is no gain without pain. Like Barrack Obama famously said, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it”. We can only do that by being supportive and patriotic and not by pulling down our country and wailing like demented banshees. Nigeria is on the match and will be great again. You can either be a part of the process or against it. I CHOOSE THE FORMER ANY DAY.

My beloved compatriots I write you with love in my heart. Love for my fellow countrymen that have long been short-changed by the worst set of leaders ever. Love for my dear and great country that has been subjected to so much grievous abuse that could have sunk less-resilient countries. Love for our children and unborn children whose future is being assured by the painstaking efforts of the present administration to re-engineer our way of doing things.

There is nothing wrong in calling an administration to order and proffering solutions to some of our problems. But we can do that with love. And not by wishing and praying that the leadership should fail. Love for our dear country should surmount whatever hatred we have against anybody. That is if we should even harbour such hatred in the first place. The level of hatred I see in the utterances of certain commentators and in a certain part of this country calls for serious concern and makes me wonder which deity they worship.

Besides being a counter-productive and destructive emotion, hatred harms the hater more than the hated. When criticism is loaded with so much venom, bile, contempt, denigration and disdain, you have then entered a dangerous territory that can even lead to a mutually-assured destruction. I want no part of that.  My children want no part of that. Nigeria wants no part of that. The Good Book says that love conquers all. With love we can come together as one, conquer the odds against us and make this country great again. That my beloved compatriots is where I stand.


God bless Nigeria.
With love from your fellow compatriot,
Pat  Chukwuemeka

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