Letter to Garba Shehu: Why We Must Change This Change


Dear Mallam Garba Shehu:

They say if your father is garlic and your mother onion, you can’t smell good. Defending President Buhari’s performance is practically impossible and…  no, it’s not because he has assembled unarguably the worst media team ever seen, it’s because he has set an unprecedented low for governance in Nigeria. That is a fact we all see for ourselves. There couldn’t be a better person to highlight the flaws of the opposition and to also reveal the positives (no matter how little) managed by the Buhari administration that other candidates would have to build on or surpass in our quest for quality leadership. This was why i settled down to read your article with an open mind.

I really expected you to wax lyrical about resuscitating our economy and pulling us out of recession but you barely made an attempt to disprove those of us who think the little progress is down to the slight bump in oil prices and not the intellectual wizardry of any of the lot that gather to meet every Wednesday. You chose to hammer on corruption. Perhaps in a shallow attempt to prove the president has delivered on his number-one selling point, the war on corruption.

Aside from your general warning, political and hypocritical, to say the least, on the ills of falling back in the arms of the PDP, you specifically listed names who would go scot-free with their loot, notable among them former first lady Dame Patience Jonathan. The simple question we have been asking for more than a year now is, why hasn’t she been prosecuted? Rather, it is Patience who has sued the government for confiscating her money. It simply doesn’t make sense that the EFCC thinks it appropriate to seize the lady’s money and properties without as much as inviting her for questioning.

What corruption is Buhari fighting? Former NSA Sambo Dasuki has said every money he paid out was authorized by President Jonathan and this much has been corroborated by former presidential media aide Doyin Okupe. Buhari and his people have not asked him a single question. And you Mallam Garba have the effrontery to say the PDP established the EFCC and ICPC only because they needed toys or bulldogs? Sad!

Inasmuch as I admit the GEJ administration was corrupt, it might interest you to know that Transparency International corruption perception index reported an 8-place improvement from 144 to 136 under President Jonathan and a 136 to 148 slump under President Buhari. You know what that tells the average Nigerian? That just like we got to know a lot of things about Jonathan only after he left office, so shall we know about Buhari. When the handover notes have been prepared, questions will be raised on a range of topics. Maybe we would understand better why N1.1bn was slated for the cleaning and fumigating of the office of the NSA in the 2018 budget and N2.2bn budgeted to the DSS for a social media mining suite (whatever that means). It would not be easy for the APC ‘broom’ to sweep the non-availability of a common syringe at the State House Clinic despite budgetary allocations. The first lady herself Aisha Buhari told us that. These are just an insight into the very little things that will not seem little when an unpopular government leaves power. I don’t envy your job one bit. You are selling a man even his wife won’t.

When it’s all said and done, I’m pretty sure we won’t have an EFCC boss wearing a ‘Buhari 2019’ lapel pin to his suit in charge. Nothing will be hidden. And he comes to mind first, when talking about ‘grand corruption at the top’ which you say this government has eliminated. Ibrahim Magu, the man Buhari has charged with running the most prominent anti-graft body, the EFCC, has been indicted for corruption by the DSS with names and pretty much verifiable facts. That alone transforms the anti-corruption agenda from hypocritical to laughable.

The attorney-general of the federation, the chief law officer of the land, has been indicted by the House of Representatives for the reinstatement of a wanted fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina, into the civil service. Buhari has done nothing about that. If President Trump told you that you had wiped out ‘grand corruption at the top’, I bet he was only being nice to his guests.

The most formidable threat your principal has at the moment, Atiku Abubakar, has already promised to probe the administration if he is voted into office. You know why that is such a big deal? Because a lot of Nigerians feel so used. They liken the Buhari administration to the biggest yahoo-yahoo scam ever pulled. The format – a promise to wipe out Boko Haram in two months, making the naira equal to the dollar, fixing all our refineries, creating millions of jobs. Instead of working towards national growth and development, all your government has done is blame the PDP for the last three years as if Nigerians didn’t know why they voted them out in the first place.

You had nothing to say about the plight of the common man — one who is being duped with several committees and reports on an increase in minimum wage. He has had to cope with a meagre N18, 000 monthly salary all through your ‘record’ increase in the cost of living. You didn’t address the daily killings of defenceless Nigerians by the Fulani herdsmen and the dire consequences of allowing it to linger for too long.

Your article only answers questions you pose to yourself. President Buhari doesn’t host media chats because he is scared of our own questions. If it means living like we did before Buhari came on board, then so be it. We must change this change.

Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano


Email: [email protected]

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