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Letter To The President: On Behalf Of The Fooled- By Dimeji Sodeke

Dear Mr. President, 

Your Excellency, I hope this letter finds you well. I decided to drop you a note because, you know, our country’s situation is like when your favorite jollof rice disappoints—it hits differently. 

In the wake of rising socio-economic, political, and administrative disorders, it is of utmost importance to attribute these challenges, particularly the endemic corruption and the grave hopelessness experienced by the Nigerian youths, residing both domestically and abroad.

Nigeria’s spending problem is at an alarming rate for a nation whose populace faces retarded development. 37% of Nigeria’s children are malnourished while 20 million of school age are out of school due to abject poverty. As it stands now, 133 million Nigerians live in abject poverty yet the inflation is at an all-time high of 26.72%. The nation’s total debt stands at 87 trillion naira and its debt service-to-revenue ratio is a whopping 73.5%.

Sir, amidst all these insane realities going on, your present administration found it as the appropriate time to change the cars for the office of the First Lady at a total of 1.5 billion naira which makes 30% of the 5 billion naira loan allocation for all students across Nigeria. Do you care to explain why Nigerians are encouraged to make sacrifices at the expense of the luxury of their leaders?

In the spirit of “he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches,” it’s time we talk about this snake of corruption that’s been biting without announcing itself. We are not just any snake; we are like a python that has forgotten how to hiss properly. Corruption, an illness that is deeply ingrained in our systems, has fostered an environment that celebrates unearned wealth and privileges which many will argue you are beneficiary as well. It has diminished the public trust and faith in the government, making it nearly impossible for the nation to advance or evolve effectively. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (2020) vividly showcases Nigeria’s dismal rank, standing at 149 out of 180 countries. An example of numerous sickening ones is the recent presidential fleet which already received a 13 billion naira allocation in the 2023 approved budget. Now there is another 12 billion naira allocation in the proposed supplementary budget. Would you kindly explain to Nigerians why the office of the National Security Adviser received a 73 billion naira allocation in the 2023 budget and now another 29 billion naira?

Undeniably, public resources have been unscrupulously misused and embezzled, leaving the wealth concentrated in the hands of a privileged few. Healthcare, education, and social services amongst many others that serve as the bedrock of a thriving nation have been underfunded and nearly decimated. Our national cake, which should be for everyone, seems to be enjoyed by a select few who got the memo about the feast. Figures show we are spending more time on elite tables than fixing the broken chairs in our public schools.

Your Honor, it was not too long ago that you urged Nigerians living in the United States to return home, asserting that conditions have improved under your administration. I must inquire, was that a political jest or a mere publicity stunt? I trust you are aware that not every young person will be as fortunate as your son Seyi, who enjoys the privilege of freely roaming the Aso Villa, even during high-level meetings. Your recent plan to acquire a presidential yacht has raised eyebrows. Are we to assume that this is the grand celebration you’re inviting us back to? Bear in mind, that the United States, with its $33 trillion economy, does not own a presidential yacht. Their leaders made a conscious decision to sell their presidential yacht in 1977 due to economic priorities and obligations to their citizens.

Mr. President, I implore you not to confuse migration with escape. Our nation, sadly, has become an open-air prison. Our youths are not migrating but fleeing from the grim realities of life: the crippling economy, rampant poverty, soaring inflation, pervasive corruption, unchecked insecurity, stark inequality, and widespread social injustice. These young individuals are leaving everything they hold dear to seek refuge in a country where they will be regarded as second-class citizens. This is because the ruling class has, in many ways, auctioned them off to the highest bidder, pillaged their resources, and sabotaged their future. The next time you encounter these youths, I urge you to see them as individuals who have been driven out of their homeland by the very elites who wouldn’t think twice about plundering until there’s nothing left.

Mr President, I would like to ask a reality check question, which class commits the biggest crime in Nigeria, the rich or poor? Our nation is a victim of elaborate fraud as the recent Nigeria versus P&ID controversial case, an arbitration award under which Nigeria Mr Olusegun Vincent, Associate Professor of Finance at Pan-Atlantic University in Lagos State exposed the shameless corrupt deal embedded in the shady deal where Nigeria was ordered to pay a sum equal to its entire federal budget. The P&ID scam could have sank the entire nation if the reverse was not the result of the final verdict with just two corrupt individuals pocketing a whooping sum of $1.9bn (1.534 trillion naira). This has been a major controversy in Nigeria, and it involves allegations of corruption and fraud surrounding a gas contract between the Nigerian government and a company called Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID). The Nigerian government signed a 20-year contract with P&ID in 2010 for the construction of a natural gas processing plant, but the project never materialized. P&ID then filed a lawsuit against Nigeria, claiming that the government had breached the contract and seeking compensation for the lost opportunity. A UK court ruled in favour of P&ID in 2019, awarding the company $9.6 billion in damages, which is one of the largest arbitration awards in history.

Mr President at this juncture, you would agree with me that the air of reality in Nigeria is compounded as the middle class faces absolute extinction or extermination. Everyone who wants to know what will happen ought to examine what has happened: Everything in this world in any epoch has its replicas in antiquity. Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality- All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration. The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. Hence, the “Eleyi” mentality is evident enough in the recent Rivers State political malady. Even the one you referred to as “Eleyi” who eventually got your approval to be a governor was acclaimed to be convicted & jailed in a once Miami Dade Florida credit card fraud, petty theft and check forgery on 7th November 1986 under the incognito as Shawn Michael Davids. In a turn of events, one of his aides, Abidemi Rufai later pleaded guilty to $600,000 in proceeds of fraud in the United States. Nigerians could already put the puzzle together as the main question remains whose footsteps they all seem to be following.

Your Excellency, let’s talk about our youths—the hustlers, the dreamers, the ones caught in a cycle of “God When?” It’s like they are playing a game of musical chairs, but the music stops, and there are not enough chairs for everyone. In the words of our people, “If pikin no find chair chop, e go carry stool waka.” All these have fostered a culture of helplessness amongst the Nigerian youths. Seeking greener pastures, our vital human capital, the future bearers of our nation, are voluntarily vacating the nation in droves, contributing to the Brain-drain phenomenon. Our youths in the diaspora feel alienated, while the ones at home are trapped in a cycle of joblessness and desolation.

These adjustments are proving detrimental not just to the socio-economic development but also to the mental health of the younger demographic. Personal accomplishments and intellectual inspirations are undermined by the seemingly protective wall, devised by corruption and nepotism. The Nigerian youths, as it stands today, are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Also, there is a critical need for immediate and sustainable changes. Anti-corruption policies must not only be drafted but enforced strictly. Transparency and accountability should be promoted across the board, irrespective of the personalities involved. The government must strive to foster a society that vehemently denounces corruption and encourages ethical conduct in the public and private sectors.

Nigerian youths represent a beacon of hope. They are energetic, ambitious and resilient, these characteristics can be harnessed to mitigate the current diasporic despair and revitalise the local socio-economic climate. Youth empowerment and involvement in nation-building are integral to any progress. We need to offer them a conducive environment that encourages them to contribute to the national development actively. This, in turn, will dissuade the current brain drain effect.

In conclusion, Mr President let’s face reality like a Nigerian parent facing a child with a missing meat from the pot. We need anti-corruption policies that are more than just paper. Transparency should be our watchword, not just a big word people throw around. And for the love of the flag, let’s give our youths a seat at the table. They’re not just the future; they’re the MVPs of this game. Let your administration kindly flex with educational improvements and power circulation rather than chasing poor roadside merchants as a way to prove your system works. I agree with your popular statement if truly you meant it Sir; “Let the Poor breathe”.


Yours Patriotic Citizen,

Dimeji Sodeke



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