Dear President Obama: This letter is a passionate appeal to your administration to rethink the much touted support the US is perceived to be giving General Ibrahim Babangida as a preferred replacement for Musa Yar’adua (in coma) as Nigeria’s next President in 2011.
I feel justified to write you because you represented the new face of world leadership to me in 2009 such that I did the only thing I could to help you win Virginia; I stomped for your campaign since I could not vote nor donate money as I am not a US citizen.It would be naive to imagine that the US’s interest in Africa’s most populous nation is purely altruistic and since I am not that naive, I would acknowledge that American interests in sub Sahara makes it imperative for the US to pay closer attention to what is going on there. However, irrespective of the intelligence reports you must have received about our nation, a Babangida presidency could prove to have the undesired effect; probably spark off a deeply ingrained conflict that has the potential of turning Nigeria to another political hot spot on the African continent.
Until the recent visit of your envoy to Babangida, the controversial general had nursed this ambition to return to power for years but never had the boldness to give public credence to the rumors...until the US envoy came to town. Now, he has suddenly found the temerity to confirm his intention to run for Presidency in 2011. That singular move is strong confirmation that your administration has decided to back him as a veritable candidate.
To catalogue why Nigerians, especially the youth are vehemently opposed to his return would be an exercise in tautology. His sins are too numerous to recount in this discourse but suffice to say that the General excelled at earning for himself the unrivaled honour of being perceived as the Father of Unbridled and Institutionalized Corruption. For the US to therefore pursue a foreign policy in Nigeria with General Babangida as the central figure sends the signal that your administration is double faced about reigning in corruption in Africa.
Frankly, Mr President, Nigerians are done with the crop of leadership that brought us to this pitiable point as a nation and General Babangida held the reigns for 8 years of the 50 we have endured. The same reason that the world rooted and Americans defied every odd to vote for you is the same reason why Nigerians have rejected IBB and his ilk...Hope and Change. If you truly believed in your campaign then one expects that you would seek the same for every nation as those values you passionately preached are universal to mankind. If you seek hope and change for Nigeria like you did for America, you may be backing the wrong horse here Mr. President.
IBB represents everything you do not: Despair, Tired Hands, Status quo, Establishment, Dictatorship, Corruption, Lack of Vision, Lack of Integrity and Accountability, Unfairness, Same old, same old as you Americans would say. This election is crucial to the future of Nigeria; it is our turning point to position us for the 21st century. We need young, vibrant and visionary leadership just like what you provide for your nation. Please do not sentence us to another decade of frustrating leadership. Nigeria may not survive it.
Contrary to the intrigues and falsehoods they may have fed you about how some people are the only ones to solve Nigeria’s political problems, the threats of terrorism your country fears against American interests can only be solved with visionary and focused leadership. Nigerian youths are restive because no administration had planned for their future. If we get the right leadership, Nigeria will work. Lagos is a classic example Mr. President. Our ethnic and religious problems naturally take back seat when there is purpose and prosperity. Nigerians are world renowned for their zest for life and success as can be attested to by the great exploits of Nigerian professionals in Diaspora as well as the unfortunate prowess of the scammers in internet fraud.
Mr President, Any postulation about whether the North retaining its quota for presidency is all political balderdash and has little relevance to the aspirations of most Nigerians. In fact, we have no constitutional backing for this funny equation. PDP is the architect and builder of that rotten structure and any attempt to help establish it is a direct violation of our already flawed constitution. As a celebrated constitutional law professor sir, you definitely would not want to be seen as violating one, no matter how flawed it might be.
If your foreign policy pundits bothered to find out, the Nigerian electorate is more favourably disposed to fresh hands. A nod in Gov Donald Duke, Babatunde Fashola or even Dr Pat Utomi, El Rufai or Nuhu Ribadu would get the electoral system buzzing with excitement in no time. That would rekindle the fire of nationalism in the young like you did their American counterparts in 2009.However, if you keep up with this IBB plan, Mr President, you might only help in nailing the coffin of credible and representative democracy as most Nigerians would not bother to participate.
Supporting an IBB presidency in 2011 could end up being your eternal error of judgment because you could be creating a Frankenstein which might be beneficial for the US in the short term but become a festering sore few years down the line like the US support of Osama Bin Laden against the Russians during the cold war gave birth to the terrorism albatross hanging over the US presently. Trust me, Mr President, there are some issues that cannot be explained here which could turn this decision on its head. The best move now is a volte farce before it becomes a global embarrassment which the US can ill afford at this time.
We would prefer that Nigerians be left alone to evolve our peculiar leadership without interference from the outside world but since we do need your big brotherly oversight function, your informed decision would serve us best and an IBB Presidency is definitely not very informed.
In conclusion President Obama, your decision on Nigerian election in 2011 must hit the bull’s eye especially because you are a black President. You cannot afford to be credited with the support that helped to keep Nigeria bound to corrupt leadership and bad governance. General IBB and his contemporaries are not good for the Nigeria of the 21st century.
We want to break this cycle of corruption and bad governance. We believe we can with visionary leadership. Give over 140 million Nigerians at home and another 30million in the Diaspora a reason to shout from the rooftops like the world did in Chicago on the historic night you were elected America’s first black President, “Yes We Did”! President Obama, please say No! to IBB in 2011.
* This article was originally published noon Sola Salako's FB page