Dear President Jonathan,
I never thought I would join in the letter writing orgy that has seized all of Nigeria by the wrist! Certainly, not given the self-serving purposes of the Epistle of Saint Matthew of Otta to the people of Nigeria through you and the many replies to it.
At the time of writing, said St Matthew had just fired off yet another missile, I mean missive, to Bamanga Turkur who has the singular luck of presiding over the disintegration of the greatest party in Africa on which the political sun was never to set. St Matthew’s umbrage this time is that a “habitual criminal . . . wanted abroad,” one Buruji Kashamu, has been elected zonal leader of the PDP. Consequently, he has served notice of withdrawal from the party to protest the PDP’s pride of place as the paragon of “morality, decency, discipline, principles and leadership example.”
But let me go to the reason for my letter, which is to implore you, in all earnestness, to kindly put an immediate stop to the long-running tragic farce in your erstwhile home state of Rivers. I confess my ignorance of the mysterious ways in which power works, its wonders to perform. But I have sought enlightenment from many older and wiser than me, only that they too are befuddled.
Since I can’t be sure of making it past the gate to the presidential villa where you preside, directly or indirectly but at any rate vicariously, over the increasingly dangerous saga in Rivers, I am forced to ask you through this open medium the questions agitating my mind: What, your excellency, is the great public good served by your refusal to end the macabre drama in Rivers? Surely you are mindful of the threat to national security posed by the absurd theatre of power, vendetta, blind loyalty, thuggery and open warfare waged with words and soon — in the light of recent reports — lethal arms? Are you content to see Rivers State turn into “the rough, rough beast of the East” that could spark a national crisis in a pathetic parody of Oyo State as “the wild, wild West” of our early post-independence existence?
I should hope not, for I suppose you have heard that six young persons, all with traceable ties to your esteemed wife, Patience — who, I hope you will admit, is neck-deep in the crisis rendering her home state ungovernable — were arrested on 4 January by a Joint Military Task Force for being in possession of military calibre weapons, among them AK-47 rifles and rounds of ammunition clearly not intended for antelope-hunting.
One of the armed men, Daniel Ibito-Anga, is said to be in the habit of describing himself as Security Adviser and, or, Personal Assistant to Senator George Sekibo and Evans Bipi, the latter being the same who declared your good wife as his Jesus Christ, perceived blasphemy of whom provoked him into starting the mayhem of 9 July 2013 that has since shut down legislative activity.
Pictures of the arms and the men were all over the news. Were you bothered by those images? Or by the fact that a serving senator, Magnus Abe, was shot last week (and has had to be flown abroad) for treatment when the police broke up a peaceful protest at which he was merely exercising his right to peaceable assembly? Are you troubled by the fact that police commissioner Joseph Mbu is believed by many to be Aso Rock’s enforcer in Rivers, and that he did nothing to dispel the suspicion by being more worried about the news of the armed youths’ arrest making it to the press than that dangerous weapons were in their hands in the first place?
Do you think that Mr Mbu will bring charges against the suspects? Commanders-in-chief shouldn’t be too easily perturbed, but surely you are disturbed by the bombing of the premises of a high court hearing a case in which an order was issued to restrain Bipi from parading himself as the speaker of the state house of assembly?
Your Excellency, whatever the great public good that warrants your ominous fiddling — or is it drumming? I don’t know your preferred musical instrument, but I speak figuratively anyway — while Rivers State boils, I think it is high time you brought the curtain down on the frightening drama. Especially, if that good can only be served through a permanent siege to Government House Port Harcourt and young men roaming the state in Range Rovers loaded with AK-47s. Just think, sir, that your antagonist, the harried Governor Rotimi Amaechi, had before the arrests raised an alarm about arms and ammunition being shipped into the state by opponents of his administration.
Do you really think you can change the narrative and the mind of an apprehensive public more and more astonished by the unfolding scenario in the state? I fear that each day you fail to end the escalating anarchy, you shoot yourself in the foot. And aren’t you hobbled enough, as it is, by the many troubles of the country that confront you night and day? A stitch in time, it is said, saves nine. Sir, for sake of country and the long-suffering people of Rivers State, act now before it is too late.
Citizen Ogaga Ifowodo, poet and lawyer, is a professor of Comparative literature, teaches at the Texas State University in the United States, and can be reached via his email address firstname.lastname@example.org