I was browsing the internet today searching for some facts on Nigeria and cause of the unending poverty in my land and I stumbled on a blog and a post by a Nigerian, Jide Salu (a Nigerian returnee)…lol. I must say this, he has one of the best writing skills I have seen in a while, he narrates stories and makes you feel part of the event, I was so thrilled by this letter which is actually addressed to Hillary Clinton, of course it’s no news she is visiting Nigeria since becoming Secretary of State, I know this visit is meant to compensate Nigeria on loosing Obama’s visit to Ghana. I would have preferred if she passed by Nigeria and maybe stopped in Cameroun maybe this would tell our leaders that the issue is getting really critical and Nigeria is becoming so irrelevant, and I’m hoping this would make them change and take responsibility for the development of Nigeria.
I share this letter on my blog hoping that Hilary Clinton would get to read it somehow (since the world has become a digital village), Jide Salu, I’m hooking this up on my blog to assist you the same purpose.
Dear Hillary Clinton,
Good afternoon ma. I hope this letter meets you in good condition of health. If so, doxology.
Apologies that I had to send the letter by DHL. I was going to email it but it occurred to me that an email written by a Nigerian living in Nigeria may not pass through the eye of the needle of the powerful Nigerian 419 email spam blocker now installed in all American government computers in accordance with the provisions of the 30th Amendment to the US Constitution otherwise known as the Nigerian Amendment. I also tried to send the letter to you through your Under-Secretary of State to Nigeria, Mr Ojo Maduekwe, but was told that he was not planning one of his infrequent trips to Nigeria from his base in the US any time soon.
Madam Secretary Ma, it is with great dismay that I read in our newspapers that you will be visiting Abuja later this week in a ‘make una no vex’ attempt to placate our ogas here who are still sulking and smarting from losing President Obama to Ghana. It is being widely reported here that you are coming to “talk tough” about corruption and electoral malpractices. Madam Secretary Ma, ordinary Nigerians like me, all victims of the people who will host you in Abuja, have been having a belly laugh at our paraga and burukutu joints. You are coming to Abuja to preach against corruption and electoral malpractices? You remind us of the tortoise in the folk tale who went to an assembly of cats to talk tough about the need for them to take rats off the menu.
That is not why I am writing and asking you to reconsider this trip o. That is just a small aside. Most Nigerians like me do not want you to come because we are the ones who will bear the brunt of the visit. Since you will not get to see any of us, it is difficult for one to explain to you how your visit will trample on our dignity and humanity. You see, when you host important dignitaries and world leaders in Washington, you always design the visits to have the most minimal disruption on the normal routine of the citizens of your country living in Washington. If your compatriots desire to be part of the action, you create a rope line where they can line up to see the modest motorcade and, depending on the circumstances, shake hands and have photo-ops with the visitor. Madam Secretary Ma, your hosts in Abuja believe that the human dignity of the Nigerian citizen stops where the two-kilometre-long motorcade of any foreign visitor begins. And because you are a visitor of timbre and calibre, forty-eight hours to your arrival, we would have been cleared off the streets – within a forty mile radius of wherever you will be in Abuja. Roads will be closed and businesses disrupted. The clearing exercise is never funny Ma. It is done by soldiers and anti-riot policemen with koboko, tear gas, machine guns, and tanks. They will kick the heck out of our butts to ensure that our offensive presence as Nigerians does not mar your trip.
If you think I am lying Ma, you will see those soldiers and anti-riot policemen throughout your visit. You will see tanks and so many other things you never see when receiving Presidents and world leaders in Washington. In fact, the presence of troops and tanks mobilized by our rulers to give you maximum security and keep us at bay will remind you of that little situation in Bosnia when you had to dodge sniper fire. As you must have been briefed by the Nigerian Desk at the African Desk at the State Department, we are the giant of Africa and we do things giantly. So, we all live in giant darkness here because 140 million of us share a little under 2000 megawatts of electricity. We are targeting 6000 megawatts by 2015 in order to become one of the world’s top 20 economies five years later Ma. Anyway Ma, we ration our roughly 2000 megawatts. What that means, Ma, is that each Nigerian is entitled to about 3 hours of electricity per month.
Now that you are coming Ma, your hosts in Abuja will have to divert every single megawatt meant for us to places like Aso Rock, the National Assembly, Nicon Transcorp Hotel (if you stay there). Normally they run all those places on generators imported from Japan and China but they may not want you to hear all that generator noise. And there is no telling if the petrol and diesel they import to run those generators are not adulterated. They can’t run the risk of exposing you to the dangerous fumes reserved exclusively for Nigerian citizens. So, every megawatt we have in the country will have to be diverted for your exclusive use Ma. They may even have to borrow a few more megawatts from Benin Republic and Cameroon just to make sure that you enjoy uninterrupted electricity throughout your stay. Every second you enjoy electricity in Nigeria Ma, it is being taken away from one hundred thirty-nine million, nine hundred ninety-seven thousand people. I am leaving out the 3000 morons responsible for the situation Ma since it doesn’t really affect them. They are your hosts and our rulers. Ma, knowing what you now know, would you want to deny Nigerians their right to 3 hours of electricity per month?
I don’t know if you are spending one or two nights in Abuja but I must tell you that a visit like yours normally translates to a temporary suspension of governance in Nigeria. I can assure that since last week, nobody of consequence is “on seat” in Abuja and the state capitals. They have stopped doing the business of the people to prepare “for our august visitor”. Don’t be surprised that Governors and “First Ladies” of far-flung states like may have arrived Abuja over a week ago to be part of the action. Hundreds of “welcome committees” are already at work in every government building in Abuja, running “miscellaneous expenses” to welcome you. Ma, you can only imagine the millions of man hours we are going to lose to this visit.
There is of also the damage to our treasury. Just wait until you hear how much your hosts will eventually claim they spend on entertainment and African hospitality during your visit. It could end up competing favorably with the entire monthly budget of the State Department.
That brings me again to the matter of corruption Ma. Well, you are not going to see corruption in Nigeria. It is invisible. But you are going to eat corruption. And drink corruption. You see, we may not be a democracy like certain countries in Africa but we are proud to run a fledgling contractocracy. That means that every grain of rice you will eat during your visit was awarded as a heavily over-inflated contract to somebody. Every slice of bread you will eat at breakfast is the product of an over-inflated contract. Every bottle of water you will drink was contracted out and invoiced beyond the going rate at the Waldorf Astoria. I will spare you the details of the roads travelled by those who got those contracts to supply food and drinks and how they said “thank you” to those who awarded the contracts at the Ministry.
There is one good news Ma. If you do come, our National Assembly will have a full house while you are here. Our Distinguished Senators and Honorable Reps will all want a piece of the action. Normally Ma, they hardly every come to work. They only come infrequently to collect Ghana-must-go and disappear. No, Ma, they are not going to Ghana. I said Ghana-must-go. Em, em, em, that is a bag Ma. No, Ma, it is not used to store bills and house publications. Well, em, it stores bills but not the bills you have in mind. Anyway Ma, should you reject my advice not to come, let me take it upon my humble self to offer you the following travel tips:
•Travel with ear muffs. Your motorcade will be loudly sirened 24/7.
•Leave the word “Mr.” in Washington. You won’t need it at any time in Abuja.
•Check the memo that officials of the American Embassy in Abuja will give you as soon as you land. It will contain instructions on how, when, and where to use Chief, Alhaji, Dr, Your Excellency Sir, Your Excellency Ma and so on and so forth.
•If a Governor comes to welcome you, do not call him Mr. Governor. It is “Your Excellency The Executive Governor.” It is a worse offense not to address his wife as “Your Excellency The First Lady.”
•If you visit the National Assembly, every Senator is distinguished and every Rep is Honourable. Learn to take a bow.
•If, despite the diversion of every single megawatt in the country for your use, NEPA still strikes (see American Embassy memo for meaning of expression), make light conversation with your hosts as you wait for the generator to kick in. Smile and reassure them with sentences like “Ah, Chief, you know these things happen everywhere. No country is perfect”
•Lest you feel crowded, apart from their retinue of aides, every member of the Executive or the Legislature you meet has four personal serfs otherwise known as Personal Assistants. Each of the first three carry one of the bosses three cell phones and the fourth carries his briefcase or her handbag. (see embassy memo for further details)
•If you bump into a man called Michael Aondoakaa, give him stamps and envelopes. He’ll appreciate it. He loves to write letters (see the embassy’s file on him for more details)
If I have other suggestions, I will not hesitate to let you know Ma. I trust that you will carefully consider everything I have written here.
PS: Just in case, one Pius Adesanmi (common Nigerian) wrote this for our enjoyment, though truthful.