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President Muhammadu Buhari

An Open Letter to Mr. President by Peter Nwachukwu (New Jersey – USA)

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Dear President Buhari.
Stop looking for supposed, good and honest men to run Nigeria’s government. Instead, look for a good and honest system. Even if you find good and honest men and women, the current bad system will eventually corrupt them.
Please look back and ask yourself: when has massive corruption left the government of Nigeria since you and your pal, Tunde Idiagbon, tried to clean up things? Do you believe that the reason is due to the lack of good and honest people?
People in Nigeria have come to believe that it is impossible for our leaders to come and go without stealing money. For some, it is even satisfying to know that leaders worked hard and did not steal much.
If you have a government appointment and come home after the job ended without stolen money, people in your village or community, will think that you are insane. This is now a way of life. How many people are bothered by this?
For many years, some of us have come to the United States of America and became citizens. We have never seen an American president or state governor accused of stealing money. Why? Because the “system” makes it almost impossible for them to have direct access to money. The question of honesty does not come in. There is strong accountability.
Mr. President, imagine this scenario: A poor retired headmaster gets elected, and he knows that after a four year term, he will go back to poverty in his village. This man is asked to supervise a project of twenty million Naira and he knows there will be little or no accountability of the money when he leaves. Don’t you think that the temptation to hide one million (Money which will change his life) is too much for him to overcome? If he knows that he will be held to full accountability during and at the completion of the project, won’t he surely think twice before stealing some money? Do we have a tight system that will keep him under guard? What about accountability.
If President Barack Obama is accused of stealing money, everyone will be surprised – Not because he is an honest man but because the system does not give him access to the money.
The late, former president of the Senate, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and a former Speaker of the House were found guilty of tampering with contract money for construction of projects in the Senate and House of Representatives. This takes us back to the issue of the “system”. Why are we exposing them to the money involved in these construction projects when we have engineers in the Federal Ministries of Works and Housing.
The same thing goes for the money given to parliamentarians to buy furniture for their places of residence. Why? What type of accountability are we expecting from them?
The big endemic problem here is that many of these people studied in the United States of America and European countries where they have seen solid governance at work. Unfortunately, when they come back to Nigeria, they exploit the type of system we have.
When the issue of corruption comes up here, emphasis is laid on the loophole in the system that allows the corruption take place and how to make it harder for the next person to use it. In Nigeria, the issue is centered on individual honesty. We start looking for a supposed honest person who should be incorruptible. This is why we have not made progress and we will remain in the same pit until a workable (not perfect) system is found.
Mr. President, you have put your life on the line for Nigeria many times including during the Civil War and when you and Tunde Idiagbon organized a coup. Now, the real opportunity has come for you.
Please boldly face the system and reform it, even at the risk of not being re-elected. Leave a legacy for Nigeria on how things should be done. Set a standard for Nigeria and other developing countries on how to govern and history will owe a lot to you.
You are not promising anyone success, but please give it an honest effort.
As Shakespeare puts it in “Hamlet”: to be or not to be, that’s the question.
Thank you
Peter Nwachukwu (New Jersey) USA

* Stop looking for supposed honest people. Look for a strong system with accountability.
* In my next letter, I will come up with definite proposals.

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