Open Letter To President Jonathan: How We Occupied Nigeria Last January – By Jude Egbas

26 Sep

To be read to the President and Commander in Chief of The Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by potty mouthed Dr Doyin Okupe in his Hotel Room in New York where he is attending the UN General Assembly; to the accompaniment of ‘African China’s’ Mr President, Lead us well…..

Dear Mr. President,

I hope this letter meets you in good stead. I am sure it will. You have never had a dull moment since you assumed the number one office in our land; ready to fly at the drop of a hat to saner climes at a moment’s notice. Accept also my deep concerns and warmest regards as it has to do with the health of your wife and our first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. I hope and pray that she recovers in double quick time.

I have always felt like writing you a letter, Mr President. That moment had always petered out once I had realized the sheer futility of the act. I have always had this notion that deep down inside you, you really do not care about us. Please correct me if I am wrong, but your every step since you assumed office as our substantive President has been couched in several mis-steps. Your demeanor often betrays a certain non-chalance towards us. Last week, at a public lecture in Abuja, you gave my theory regarding your perceived non-chalance, several shots in the arm.

I was amazed as anyone else, Sir, that you believe that the Occupy Nigeria protests which you quelled by deploying armed Military personnel to the streets, was instigated or sponsored by people who harbor deep seated animosity towards everything with the Jonathan insignia. Again, I find your attempts to always point the finger, very effete and jejune. Time and again, you have been a lot more concerned with blaming everyone else but yourself for your inability to fix Nigeria. If this is not dereliction of duty on your part, nothing else will be.

You had alluded to the fact that the fuel subsidy protest, especially in Lagos, was bankrolled by your political opponents. You had wondered aloud in the following words: “Take the case of Lagos. Lagos is the critical state in the nation’s economy, it controls about 53 per cent of the economy and all tribes are there. The demonstration in Lagos… people were given bottled water that people in my village don’t have access to, people were given expensive food that the ordinary people in Lagos cannot eat. So, even going to eat free food alone attracts people. They go and hire the best musician to come and play and the best comedian to come and entertain; is that demonstration? Are you telling me that that is a demonstration from ordinary masses in Nigeria who want to communicate something to government?”

Mr President, you were wrong. Every time you have spoken extemporaneously, you have ended up shooting yourself in the mouth. But your harangue last week did not come to me as a surprise. As the protests gathered momentum last January, it was comical to hear some of your aides and a sprinkling of Senators who belong to your Political Party, dismiss the uprisings as the workings of the opposition. Even more comical was the fact that you bought this line of reasoning from these deluded persons, hook, line and sinker without doing any research of your own. Again, you have proven your disconnect with the people who elected you.

On the third day of the protests, Mr President, a certain Madam Toyin placed a call to our family home.Toyin was a family friend. She was co-coordinating attempts to help with food for the growing number of protesters. How could our family help? She enquired. Madam Toyin runs a Research outfit. Like other members of the middle class, she was disturbed by the insensitivity of your administration at the time and your growing intransigence, Mr President, at genuine dialogue. I do not think Madam Toyin was prodded to call our family home to ask for assistance by any member of the ACN, CPC or the ANPP.

The Occupy Nigeria movement, Mr President, was coordinated by ordinary Nigerians like Toyin. Most of the persons you saw amongst the crowd in Ojota, could afford their own bread or water in any case. Food vendors made brisk business from selling snacks, bottled drinks and water to the surging crowd. To dismiss all of these people as some paupers who could not afford bread and water, was derogatory and deprecating, Mr President. Why, in any case did you have to show your disdain for Lagos by that syllogism with your country folks? Again, your prognosis proved your worrisome insouciance towards the people.

I do think Sir, that you owe the likes of Tunji Braithwaite, El Rufai, Dele Momodu, Pat Obahiagbon, Dino Melaye, Seun and Femi Kuti, The Gani Fawehinmis , the artistes who performed in Ojota and all Nigerians, an unreserved apology for insinuating that they could not afford loaves of bread of their own. Mr President, most of the artistes who were considered not to belong on the side of the people were booed off the stage. Most artistes pleaded to perform because they wanted to participate in what was an epochal event in the annals of our country.

Mr President, Occupy Nigeria was a landmark historical event; and it will be foolhardy to attempt to reduce it to the level of mundane politics and brinksmanship. In Occupy Nigeria, our country crossed the Rubicon. In Occupy Nigeria, we realized that Nigerians were not as gullible as they had been perceived to be. Occupy Nigeria was a spontaneous Movement; riding on the psyche and crest wave of a people who have been pulverized and pushed to the wall by a heartless coterie who pretend to lead them.

Your aides and praise singers may have fed you with the wrong sequence of events all along, but you may want to take their shallow mindedness and capriciousness with several pinches of salt at this moment.

Yes, the likes of Pastor Bakare may well have headlined the protests in Lagos, but they were not the arrow-heads. The real arrow-heads of Occupy Nigeria were Sikirat, Bisi, Dapo, Mohammed, Chibuzor, Oghenebriore, Halimatu, Nsikak and Uduak—faceless and ordinary Nigerians who are bracing up for change come 2015. Be afraid…be very, very afraid, Mr President, of these young and faceless Nigerians. This group of persons can buy their bread and water and they can decide which way the pendulum swings next time out at the polls because Occupy Nigeria afforded them the opportunity to unite and to believe again.

Thank You Mr. President for taking your time to read this letter. Enjoy your brief sojourn in New York, interact with your more serious peers and pick their brains on how to lead a country. Thus far, your colleagues haven’t really rubbed off on you. In which case, you may consider changing your friends.

Yours Sincerely,



The writer is on Twitter @egbas


Twitter: @ Femiolas

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Thoughts


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