Saudi King Writes Yar’adua’s Nigeria at 49 - by Prince Charles Dickson


n the name of God, the Beneficent and Merciful.
Your Excellency, The President of Nigeria. Peace and the mercy and blessings of God be with you.

Dear Umaru Yar'adua
First congratulations on your nation's 49th Independence Day Celebrations, I am writing you this letter on behalf of the loving people of Saudi Arabia and myself. I need not emphasis to you the place of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not just on you as a person but the fact that we represent the ground for billions of faithful and peace-seeking Muslims.

The next few lines I pen to you would be painful—the reason being that it is the truth and I dare say, you and I know that the truth hurts. I have been told and warned by my kinsmen that I am not saying anything new but I will still say it. Let me start with your recent visit to my domain. Your countrymen are sickened and cannot fathom the reason why you would abandon the UN General Assembly for the second time just to come for a University commissioning.

As it regards that I will skip for now. Do you know reasons why you were welcomed by a governor…well let us leave that to local gossip? Your absence is sad because it is one of the many reasons that you and your countrymen and women are not taken serious. If you recall early in the year you had complained to them and the world that it was unfortunate that the world did not reckon with you and your nation during the G-8 summit in London. Here was an opportunity to try and remedy the serious image problems you have with other nations by confronting their leaders face to face. This I think you missed…and your citizens I believe feel same. You told me that you minister for foreign affairs would handle the UN but I disagree with you.

The minister I am told flew to the US from Brazil where he had gone for negotiations on how the nation can achieve the 6,000MW power generation by December. It is sad that at 49 years and with a population of approximately 150milliion you are still battling with generating a mere 6,000 MGW. I gathered that no part of Nigeria has a one-hour uninterrupted power supply for a seven-day week. Since your assumption of office you have been on hijra to my domain on three occasions and this excludes the hajj you have come to perform. Can't recall when we suffered a power outage last.

One of your revered writers a certain Wole Soyinka's said that "the man (Yar'Adua) is on permanent sabbatical". "… A permanent sabbatical from critical national duty,”. This I see as an insult because no one in my domain dares insinuate that of me. Your nation is adrift and all is not well and citizenry do not see any concerted effort at solving these issues. You came to commission a university, and mysteriously some 90 public universities are shut down in your country. Most of your states are battling with primary school teachers' strike.

At 49 years you do not have a University in the top 1000 Universities listing, none of your public schools can be certified as first class. And I hear that most of your lieutenants are products of these schools that you and past governments have allowed to decay. On your other visits, you have been treated and attended to by some of the best the medical field has to offer in my domain, and each time I wonder to myself…why can you not build such in your country. Do you think if I was sick I would come to Nigeria for healthcare.. .? (subhannallah) Allah forbid that much you know. I am told that nothing works in your land and despite all the opportunities. You have continued to remain a nation of misplaced priorities and dashed hopes.

The Kingdom of Saudi is faced with its own troubles which are peculiar to us and some problems which you are familiar with. However we continue to tackle them. But I gathered that you are massaging your issues rather than deal with them headlong. In my domain we deal with corruption too, but be rest assured that our tolerance level is low. We do not hesitate to cut with sword the erring part, hand, eye, or 'that part of the body'.

This results in serious human rights questions but we do not murder or assassinate journalists or opposition people either. Many people I have spoken to from your land say they had hope in you, but that after just two years…they called you go-slow, later it was snail, now they have resigned themselves to fate. I have my integrity and that of my people to protect; besides it is not in my place to say, yet I will ask. What is the place of your wife in government …is she a feminist, is she the only wife you have? I have no problem with all these but if she is indeed the de-facto president…then there is a problem? On a scale of preference we have long shifted our attention to the likes of South Africa, Ghana, and Egypt and recently tiny nations like Namibia, Mozambique are not left out. I do not envy the enormous problems you face but I am saddened that you have not solved any. You have not improved on a faulty electoral system that brought you to power. Your banking sector we hear just underwent partial oncology but the real cancer is still there.

Some of your elites now build helipads and move around in helicopters in cities like Port Harcourt, Onitsha to avoid kidnap and your roads remain hellish and all we hear is that the Federal and state governments are perpetually engaged on whether it's a federal or a state road while people die on these roads. You have at 49 years some of the best brains in various fields but you have not been able to harness their potentials. There are several policy somersaults by various functionaries of your government and these paints you in bad light. You rule of law mantra has been questioned by the lawlessness of those underneath you and then people find out you are in the know. Your citizens are suffering loss of appetite, fatigue and memory slip at what best government practices are.

Infact I am told that citizens rejoice when government officials do what they are supposed to do because the reverse is the case. I am even told that there is a phrase used…'the man stole but he worked too'. Even in hitherto familiar terrain like soccer I hate to say that soon boys from my kingdom will beat your team whether super eagles or gentle doves. I gathered you never plan for anything in your nation anymore and the inevitable happens…you all fail. I have not proffered any solution to you in this Independence letter, so also have I left out many other issues and my reason is that I do not intend to insult you but awaken you. You have the manpower, the resources.

You can if you want to, my fear is, a doubt that you and your people want to. Leaders in the past have refused to take counsel and have never bothered about any legacies, I do not know if you want to be any different or will be different. I do not know if you will read this or an aide will browse through it as usual. Bisalam King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz

NB: As at press time it could not be ascertained if indeed the 85 year old royal father wrote this letter, but the contents are very correct. And our sources say that the Villa is not taking it lightly.