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My Letter to Nigerians: Just before we cast our Votes

By Ariyo-Dare Atoye

Shall it be said by the heavens that God is wrought because a country like Nigeria exists? The Almighty God rules in the affairs of the world and is watching us. Shall it be exclaimed by the world that we are a people without a soul, wisdom and lacking in knowledge? The global community is watching us.

After months, weeks and days of waiting, here comes the time to cast our votes and we shall do so in a few hours. The time to campaign ended a few hours ago. The time to announce the results shall follow and, thereafter, the time to answer the questions above.

Those who have no sense of posterity or any concern for future generations may not understand the purpose of pondering before we vote. In the immortal words of Obafemi Awolowo, there is no overdraft in the bank of nature; only the transaction of sowing and reaping.

The vote is a seed because choices have consequences. The choice we make on Saturday, February 16, 2019 will affect our life, family, standard of living and, most importantly, the peace and stability of our nation. It is akin to making a decision that could make or mar our tomorrow .

Lest we forget, my late friend, Bukhari Bello Jega, may his soul rest in peace, made a choice in 2015 to vote and side with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. He worked tenaciously for his choice and was visible in the social media space. We had our quarrels online but maintained our friendship offline.

But when the soldiers of the regime came for the Shiites in December 2015, they did not know or remember he helped to enthrone the government. He was slaughtered in cold blood together with his wife and daughter. His sisters too were not spared. An entire generation was wiped out.

I am not blaming Bello for the choice he made, but it is a given that for every choice we make, there are consequences. My friend and Comrade, Deji Adeyanju did not vote for Buhari on March 28, 2015, but because a government that has no respect for human rights was elected, he is today held in illegal detention by the regime.

We have come to a very sad place as a nation, where decisions are taken by the government of the day based on your religion and tribe. Our fault lines have been widened by nepotism, bigotry, lack of fairness, and made worse by the clannish and provincial disposition of the Buhari administration.

There is no pretence in the action of Gen. Buhari to foist on Nigeria the superiority of his tribe and religion. The plot to divide our nation along the odious lines of the inferiors and the superiors, disguised in the garb of those I can trust and those I cannot trust, is no longer hidden. He has driven our unity far into recession.

On his watch, other tribes have become pawns in the affairs of government, good only for power play and not because they deserve to have a fair share. Unfortunately, he does not give a damn about anyone, except Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura. The leaked tapes of his Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, said it all: "The president does not listen to anybody. He doesn’t care."

He had along the line pretended to be cleaning the Augean stables, but far from the truth. It is now obvious to Nigerians that on his watch, blood and interest are thicker than corruption. Relatives, friends and those who have entered into a pact to support a second term bid have either been freed or their trials compromised.

State capture and creeping authoritarianism have become full blown. We are witnessing his final onslaught to drive our nation into ethno-religious violence. From investigation to prosecution and finally to judicial verdict, the agencies and institutions of government have been consigned to a single ethno-religious tribe.

For the first time in 20 years and worst since 1960, the security apparatchik, sensitive appointments, the finance, the economy and all the arms of government are controlled by one religious group. It is not because Buhari is a Muslim. When an extremist is allowed to rule in a multiethnic society, he sees only his tribe and ideology as the supreme.

The regime has abused separation of powers and put our democracy in a clear danger. For all he cares, his foot-soldiers can cross a blood line without sanction and punishment. The nation is badly divided. But we must seek redemption.

What shall be the next level for over 91 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty, after the incompetence and failure of his administration pushed Nigeria to become the global capital of extreme poverty? If you failed to interrogate change, what shall you tell your creator about next level? Will affliction arise the second time?

The hopes of the Almajiris who were once becoming the focal point of the nation for redemption, have been dashed and betrayed. The youths are seen only as "lazy pikins" by the grandpa. Poverty and lack have been redesigned as a virtue and made to be seen as anti-corruption through some hopeless brainwashing.

Dear electorate and the good people of Nigeria, I seek not to foist a choice on you. The decision to vote a leader that will unite and stabilise our nation is entirely yours. The alternative may not be the best of option, but going out of Egypt is an option. As a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who, in 2015, warned about a coming calamity, I also have a responsibility to tell you that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari is not an option going forward.

If God had desired it for us to be one religion and tribe, He would have created or so. I seek a nation where Ekiti will not be suspicious of Fulani and where the strength of religion in ensuring peace, good conduct and genuine love will conquer bigotry and extremism.

Let us redeem our nation from the jackals and the hyenas. Nigeria is too precious to be governed by proxies. The decision is ours. We can salvage this nation. Let us do it.

Atoye contributed this piece from Igbara-Odo Ekiti via [email protected]