This letter to the Nigerian youths aims to sensitise, mobilise and encourage them to use their innate power which is encapsulated in their PVC.
I am Richyard, a young person like you, a Nigerian and a nationalist. I have lived in Nigeria all my life. I was born in Port Harcourt Rivers State, raised in Abia State, worked in Akwa Ibom State, my mother’s state of Origin, and I Schooled and lived in Jos, Plateau State. I studied in Nsukka Enugu State, worked in Warri Delta State, worked in Lagos for several years and in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Dutse (Yobe State), Potiscum, Gesua, and far away Nguru. I had a stint at Kano. I served in Delta, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and the Lagos State. I can assure you that I am a true Nigerian.
Nigeria has happened to me as it has done to you. I am a lover of Amala and Ewedu, Tuwo Shinkafa, Tuwo Mascura, Kunu and the Edikai-Ekong.
In the course of my duty, I have visited the Oba of Benin palace, the Asagba of Asaba, the Oredje of Okpe and Obi of Agbor. I’ve visited the palace of Badagry, Lagos, and others.
In the North, I’ve been to several Emirs, Serikis and other leaders. I studied at the University of Calabar, UNN, Jos, Abuja and abroad. My observation is that Nigeria is a place or country where leaders or Elders lie to their children. They lie without blinking their eyes. They have perfected the art of deception. That’s one of the reasons why they removed History from your curriculum. They don’t want you to know the truth.
Nigeria is like a home where parents feel that their children don’t want them to enjoy their meals, so they send those disturbing children to a neighbour with the instruction that the neighbour should help them call “omuru nwa origi-nri” (that’s a parent that doesn’t eat because he has children). The neighbour is an adult who knows that his neighbour is sending his children on a wild goose chase and decided to keep them for an hour or two. When he senses that his neighbour is through with his meal, he will send them back with another message that the man “omuru nwa origi-nri” has travelled out of town.
What if this parent decides to play this same prank when his children are grown and matured? You know parents have a way of looking at their children. They hardly believe that the boy of yesterday is no more the boy today. The adult political class in Nigeria believe you are insignificant, lacking in knowledge, lazy youths as they call you, and gullible (that’s why they give you 1,000 naira to buy your vote and forget you thereafter). They feel you are fools and in their hearts, you are a nobody. Ask them the plan they have for you and you’ll discover that all they have is empty promises.
Remember how they promised you that they would make naira equal to a dollar. Soon after the election, they openly denied it. What of the restructuring saga? Did you hear them when they said they distributed 59 billion to women in Zamfara state? They know the women in that state are mainly unschooled and can hardly come out to deny it.
Our Elders lie. If you respect their age, they don’t reciprocate. I call them “Yahoo men”. I met one of them some years ago. His real name is Alhaji Usman Ejiga from Kogi State. He retired from Shell as a contract staff. I was transitioning from my job to self-employment. I paid a borrowed 5 million naira to him (I have the documents showing this). I spent over 7 million Naira pursuing a fictitious land that never existed. Don’t be surprised that he is contesting the election. Because of this, I became broke and suffered untold hardship until I turned my dilapidated car into a taxi. With a PhD and four Diplomas, I became a taxi driver in Abuja. I registered with the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers. I became a doctorate agbero.
While driving in Abuja, I discovered that people are employed daily in parastatals, Federal agencies, paramilitary, ministries and even the military, but the method of recruitment is shrouded in mystery. While interviewing recruits, I discovered that job openings are given freely to top politicians, traditional rulers, board members and appointees who in turn give them to their cronies or sell the opportunities If you have N300,000 to N500,000 (I understand it has since increased) you can get one. That’s the falsehood in Nigeria. When they advertise an opening, it is simply to deceive you the poor that they are working. In a real sense, they don’t have you in mind. They have no plan for you. Now think: how do they replace dead officers, retired officers, incapacitated officials and laid-off personnel? How do they fill shortfalls which must naturally occur? All you hear is about a ban on employment (lie) and unemployment everywhere.
The youths must demand an open and responsive government. If they have you in mind, the universities would not be locked up for the past 8 months. Their children are not here so it does not border any one of them what happens to the children of the poor. How much is ASUU asking for that cannot be met by a few of them? If 30 or so men could buy a 100million Naira form each, now tell me, how much is ASUU looking for to go back to work?
Is ASUU asking for money for their personal use or to make university education work for all? The political class must be taught a lesson by us that whenever they mess up, we vote them out. Our vote is our power. Refuse their money and lets us support a man who is not just one of us but who lives among us. Peter Obi/Datti Ahmed would change the narrative. We need these fresh and tested hands.
If Nigeria has never happened to you, you’ll keep selling your vote or be a thug to a politician. I visited the senator representing my constituency and he told me point blank that he is not on the seat for his constituents. Many times I visited the House-member representing my Federal constituency at the National Assembly but failed to get his audience. My junior in secondary school was his Personal Assistant, so I had unfettered access to the house yet to see him, you needed to be a woman. These are the yahoo men we die for.
As a taxi driver who plied the road mostly at night, (I use my day to look for elusive jobs) I learned a lot of things about Nigeria. Taxi drivers are like palm wine tappers. They see a lot and know a lot. Your clients are from all works of life from call girls, politicians, businessmen and women, ghosts and extraterrestrial beings, or how would one explain a situation where a client that boarded your car wearing a hijab or church outfit will comes down with different clothing? Or he entered your car as a man but alights as a woman. In one instance a particular passenger asked me to drop her in the middle of the road by 2.30 am. I suffered so much but I was patient to get to the end.
I visited the Gwagwalada lands office almost daily for four years in pursuit of the land an elderly Usman Ejiga sold to me to no avail.
I repeat, I lost more than 7 million running after a lie.
Alhaji had since stopped picking up my calls and later, the number died off. At the Gwagwalada land office, I met Nigeria in its truest form. The manager comes to work by 10 am each day and goes straight to the mosque. After his prayer, he’ll do it about 2 to 3 more times before he departs for his house by 1 or 1.30 pm. This was a daily routine for him.
To admit you into his office, you must be Hausa speaking person. It takes him about 30 to 45 minutes to read a paragraph letter. To sign a document, he’ll need more minutes because he had to fight the pen first.
During this time, I enrolled in the Department of Education, at the University of Abuja for a post-graduate diploma in education. I remained anonymous throughout my studies. It was after my final teaching practice that my lecturer, Dr Mrs Ojia knew that I had a PhD and other Diplomas. She saw my scores and decided to interview me. Prof Kachia was my teacher and Pastor Paul was my classmate has remained my friend till today.
Sometimes I wonder why our adult delinquents play pranks on our sensibilities. How can you pass through primary and secondary schools without a certificate or being able to name your teachers and mates? How can you lose your certificates and their photocopies? If you went into exile, did your wife and family members go into exile too? Something is not adding up. Our society needs role models
ENCOUNTER WITH POLICE:
For my family to feed, I must drive from Area 1 or Area 2 junction to Giri, Zuba to Gwagwalada. Driving for me is a hobby. I love doing it but the big problem for me was the shouting and screaming involved. To get passengers you must join other drivers and loaders (as they are called) in shouting: Lugbe! Lugbe!! Lugbe!!! Or Giri, Giri, Giri! Or Kuje, Kuje, Kuje! Or Gwagwalada, Gwagwalada, Gwagwalada! The louder the better and faster for your car to be filled.
In the beginning, I thought I could avoid this annoying part by staying quiet but I went home empty and my family starved!
Police harassment is real even in the FCT! I had numerous encounters with these men I see as official and uniformed armed robbers. They arrested me at Berger junction for illegal parking, (meanwhile, I just got there and was behind my steering), obstruction, wrongful use of a private car as a commercial vehicle and other offences I cannot remember. I pleaded with them to allow me to go but they insisted I “settle” them or go to the station.
At the station, (the mini station at Berger between the road to Jabi and Kubwa. The mini station is in a container or caravan) I thought their leader would be more sympathetic but to my surprise, they were the same. I had no money except the one thousand Naira I took from home for fuel. They insisted that I give it to them. By 11:45 pm, I became so angry in my spirit that I placed the money on their table and said: “Anyone who wants this money should take it but let it be known that as you take it, poverty, disease and misery shall never depart from you and your bloodline forever!” On hearing me, their leader got up and moved out of the office muttering “this man don verse oh… His eye don turns red, me I don waka…” He left and the second man left to leave me with only one officer. That one thought he could intimidate me to change the curse so that he’ll pick the money. By midnight, he saw that I wasn’t changing my words and he allowed me to go with the money.
I got home to Gwagwalada in the early hours of the morning.
I applied for a teaching job at Kaduna state University but at the point of submitting my application, the receiving officer told me that if I’m not from Kaduna state, I need not waste my time… I applied to teach at the University of Abuja and after a rigorous exercise of compiling applications and credentials, we were all dismissed. There was no interview or they had taken the people they wanted. Do I need to mention other institutions I applied to? Nigeria kills her own. The country by commission and omission destroyed my youth! Despite this, I still love her. I have no other country than Nigeria. I don’t want your youth to be wasted like mine and that’s why I have taken the time to write this long letter to you. We must all work together to elect the man Peter Obi and his Vice so that they can fix this country. The man that’s giving you free phones would go into the office to recoup his money. Haven’t you heard that nothing goes for nothing? He’s buying your destiny and future with the Greek gift. Have you asked yourself how a man who had nothing (in his own words) before this political dispensation became so rich that he could move his money some years ago with a bullion van? The other person prides himself as the man that made privatisation possible. In doing that, he privatised the majority of government properties and institutions for private use to himself and his cronies. If you give him the opportunity, he’ll privatise you, your ancestral land and your community. Is that what you want my dear Nigerian youth?
Those presenting themselves are not just old but bad role models. They don’t spur young people to aspire. That’s where Peter Obi and his Vice have an edge over all of them. Mere reading their CV, you’re moved to begin to think and plan your future. What’s the inspiration you derive from a man whose handlers only talked about his body language.? What has this body language done for us in a globalised and digital world? Can you translate body language into numbers, data and planning? Despite the abysmal failure we have recorded, they want to hoist on us 2 other elders with the same pedigree. Diploma in Hygiene for many years! These are men who idolise money. They make our society look as if all we care for and worship is mammon. Some youths see them as having “made it”. After all, with little education, they rose to the top. If modern societies are built on this type of making why do we send our children to study abroad?
Two other issues I want to raise before I stop are these.
- Time has come and is now for the youths to demand accountability from these analogue yahoo men. Some of them are in the religious circle while others are in politics. Demand accountability from every Pastor that collects tithe, offerings and seeds without providing food for the congregation.
While in Abuja, I was inspired to visit churches and study their plan for youth development and empowerment of the poor. This assignment took me to different church organisations but my findings would shock you. The study gave birth to my book with the title “Who will help the poor?” I made ten hard copies of the book and sent all of them to church leaders in Nigeria and the States for endorsement and writing of the preface. A copy was sent to the CAN president (his PA acknowledged that DHL delivered it). Dear youth, all of them declined to endorse or write the preface! The book is a table shaker. It challenged the status quo where tithes are used for buildings, cars, luxury and meetings instead of feeding the poor and the needy. These thieving men do these things because you as youth are docile. We need to wake up and start singing as we do with Super Eagles when they play like pregnant women ” all we are saying… Give us our food…”. The church is a storehouse. The food in this storehouse is for you. No Pastor on a salary or has land and other worldly acquisitions is a Levite. This is the truth they don’t want you to know. I told you that Nigeria is a lie. We lie to ourselves and 2023 must stop this deception.
Lastly, my dear youth, don’t vote for a party, vote for credible hand and inspiring candidates with track records of righteousness, justice, Fairplay and development. If a candidate had been in the national assembly for 2 terms with no record of bills passed, no community or constituency projects and plans for the youths, please let’s retire him by voting him out. At the national level, I recommend the candidacy of Mr Peter Obi and Dr Ahmed Datti as President and vice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This team represents all you aspire to be in the nearest future. We need a national rebirth based on justice and equity. I want my children and grandchildren to look up to a modern leadership that is focused, digital, analytical and developmental. We need a President we can all be proud of when he stands in the comity of nations to speak on our behalf. We need a president that can speak on a topic without digressing into irrelevances and blame game. We need a President that understands ECONOMICS and ECONOMY. We need a President that could understand and analyse empiricism, that can roll out statistics and work with them not one that ability failed Mathematics and is bamboozled by figures. Modern leadership especially requires more than body language and political sagacity. We need a president that can make carrying a green passport a pride. We don’t need a president that is under FBI and Interpol watch. We don’t need tribal bigots who trust in primordial and primitive affiliations to take them to go to Aso Rock. Let’s give a fresh team a chance and rebuild our fault lines that have been so mismanaged by ineptitude, lack of vision and pure religious bigotry. Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed, are two economists, developmentalists, focused, academic and trusted candidates who shall restore and rebuild our broken walls.
Get your PVC and get ready to vote in Obi and Ahmed into power for a new Nigeria. Send this mail to all Nigerian youths in your contact especially graduates, undergraduates, unemployed, underemployed deprived and deceived Arise Oh Compatriots!
Richyard Ume JP, PhD writes from Abia State.