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OPINION

SOS To Mr. President

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I am Olusola Samuel from Omu-Aran in Irepodun local government of Kwara State, though I reside in Surulere, Lagos State. The name may never ring a bell, Mr President, but let me assure you that I was one of many, who admired your integrity, patience and honesty. Understandably, your widely acclaimed anti corruption crusade endeared you to me though some people say you find it a hard nut to forgive your real or perceived traducers. May I also confess to you, Sir, I’m one of those who absolutely loathe Nigerian politicians for their deceit and extravagant lifestyle.

But Sir, let me share with you, a folktale very common in our community during my growing years. It was about a very hardworking farmer, who was also a great sniffer of tobacco. One day at the farm, he took out his box of tobacco for the usual sniff and, apparently, energized by the inhaled drug, our man went to work. Some hours after, having done a great deal of work, he sought to relax his mind with another sniff from the box. But alas, the golden box was missing. What to do? Our man started scattering the heaps he had made, first, from the one he made last, until he got to the very first one he made earlier in the day. And there the box sat, innocently. Our man found his box of tobacco, but he had destroyed more than the 200 heaps he had laboured all day.

In the folktale, the narrator usually called the man, Akogbatugbaka, meaning, simply, the one, who works hard to accomplish a task, but still uses his indiscretion to destroy all that he had done. The moral lesson of the tale, we were often told, is the need for discretion and to be on the alert against self destruct. While noting the avowed commitment of Your Excellency to making Nigeria far better than you met it, and what you have done excellently so far on many fronts, though there are lots more work to be done, it is pertinent at this point to humbly point attention to a self-destruct tendency that is obviously playing out in the interface between men of the Nigeria police and the Kwara State government and people.

We are all aware of the condemnable armed robbery that took place in Offa, the second largest economic centre of Kwara State on April 5, 2018. We are also not oblivious of commendable efforts by the Nigeria Police to unravel the mystery behind such a dare-devilish engagement, which led to loss of lives. Thanks to the help of technology, the painstaking efforts of detectives and the support of well meaning residents, the kingpin was nabbed and he happened to be a dismissed police Inspector. The whereabout of the apprehended alleged kingpin, Adikwu and an accomplice, Ayo Opadokun is still enwraped in needless controversy which would have avoided had the police come out clean on their whereabouts.

While Nigerians celebrated the catch, we were soon taken aback by the insinuation linking Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed with the robbery. While this letter is not to speak for Saraki or Ahmed -the duo must bear their crosses for allegedly using thugs for political gains like most Nigerian politicians, no matter the expediency of such despicable act- we need to evaluate the wisdom in the decision by the police to suddenly declare the duo as culprits while investigation was pending!
This scenario has created more challenges than it sought to resolve. While the suspects are yet to be arraigned, indicating that investigation is still on going, the police have demonized and virtually criminalized the country’s number three citizen without giving a hoot about our corporate and collective image in the comity of nations. More so, when Saraki or Ahmed had not been interviewed or investigation concluded. Your Excellency, this action of the police has been seen by most Nigerians as vindictive and a form of vendatta, especially because of the unnecessary and unwarranted muscle flexing between it and the National Assembly.

Your Excellency, not Saraki or Ahmed deserves my sympathy, not even the police, but my dear state of harmony, Kwara. We have had armed robberies on banks in Ilorin, Omu-Aran and Share at different times; much as we have them in other parts of Nigeria. No doubt, they created fear in the populace and in a close community like we have in the southern part of Kwara State. They have led to monumental economic losses. Yet, we must not forget, Your Excellency, that Kwara State is strategic to the political and economic equation of this country, even as at today. It has always been the bridge between the North and the South. Gliven the position of the Senate Presidency today, I dare say we hold a strategically significant platform to influence the affairs of Nigeria. My concern, Your Excellency, therefore, is on the impact of the allegations on the trust that foreign investors would have on security of Kwara State and our fledging economy. No investor will risk investing in a troubled environment where its supposed chief security officer has been accused of armed robbery. What a mockery and ignominy! To me, we have unwittingly written a ‘don’t-come-here’ letter to them by this act. With apologies, Sir, our police seem to have crossed the line. They have succeeded in creating more fears in the mind of our people than building trust and confidence. They have put a sledge hammer in what is supposed to be a symbiotic relationship between it the state government. This is bad, Sir.

Also worrisome now is the way the police have begun, inadvertently, to harass foreign investors in my state. I’m aware they have visited some establishments run by foreigners in the state all in the name of their unending investigations. I’m made to understand that they have also visited Shonga Farms and harassed the foreigners there while nothing incriminating was found on them. What do we expect the investors to think when we extend the politics of our conflict to their operations?
This is an investment worth over $40 million in a state battling to create a niche for itself in the evolving agriculture revolution in the country. Should we scare them away in the name of politics? The investment of the Central Bank of Nigeria, our own Central bank, Your Excellency, is not less than N2 billion in that project. Should we jeopardise what is giving us hope, all on the altar of politics?
Your Excellency, I’m aware you may be in the dark about most of these issues until they are brought to your attention by the security agencies, by which time, the damage would have been done. The police seem to have abandoned their core duty on the Offa robbery and gotten themselves distracted by political engagements.

And, Sir, to think that Kwara State is a core member of the All Progressives Congress, yet my darling state is being treated as a pariah in a system its leadership invested heavily to build with other men in the hope that it would bring lasting prosperity for our people?
Mr. President, the police are dismantling many of the success stories the state built, and by extension, the progress Nigeria has recorded under your able watch. But we must not allow them to go further, Sir, if our own story will not become another case of Akogbatugbaka, because right now, they are searching for what is not lost, to use a street parlance.
Please, sir, do something before the remaining heaps are removed and the world turns to us, not to commend us, but to ridicule our nation.
Thank you, Sir. I pray for more successes as we inch towards 2019 elections.

–Samuel is a public affairs analyst



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