I have never been as excited about any political opponent as I am about General Buhari, who has just won the APC Presidential primaries. I want to congratulate him from the bottom of my heart. Of course as with all my other opponents for 2015, I would love to engage him on the way forward for our country. Since his victory I have been trying Buhari’s number to arrange for a presidential debate between him, Goodluck Jonathan and my humble self. I have since given up on Goodluck because he has never even once responded to my calls, texts or WhatsApp messages. But Buhari, I didn’t expect him not to pick. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was tired from the marathon national convention in Lagos.
In lieu of a phone conversation however, I will be reaching out to Buhari here. I will be raising salient issues which I think should form the core of any attempt to move Nigeria forward as aggregated from my research and my discussions with Nigerians from all walks of life – from newspaper vendors to technocrats.
1. FIRST LADIES
I know Buhari has one wife, but there was at least one contestant at the level of the APC primaries who is known to have more than one wife. At the level of gubernatorial primaries across the country also, there are many candidates who have multiple wives. We have also seen at least one case in our country’s history where in a certain state there was a quarrel over which of the governor’s wives would be first lady. It is unfair for Nigerians to have to experience this. It is important for those who are running for executive positions to decide which of their partners would follow them on their political journey. In fact, in this limited instance I will propose a two-pronged solution. First, I think that where there is more than one wife, citizens should be able to choose which of the wives should occupy the position of first lady. This can be done at an event called the First Spouses primaries. Second, after every candidate has just one spouse involved, I think that all candidates for the gubernatorial and presidential elections should have their spouses on the ballot in addition to themselves or risk having the office of the first lady scraped if they win. This will foster transparency and accountability. And I say this because we have known First Ladies in the past who virtually took over governance. If this happens, it is only fair that we know that we voted for her.
Nigerians should not laugh. This may look like a joke, but unless you have been in traffic or in public transport at the close of work, you will not understand how crucial this is to national life. Sometimes, Gala sold in hold-ups is the only thing stopping some people from fighting on the bus out of the irritation and frustration that extreme hunger causes. Not every worker has the endurance to wait until they reach home before they eat. Now, I do not eat Gala but I am reliably informed that first, the price has kept going up from its original 50 naira. This creates two problems. First, if Gala is 70 or 80 naira, there will always be the problem of change and it is not like people have all the time in the world to look for change when they are in a hold-up. Next, this makes it inaccessible to persons who have only 50 naira. Apart from this, I am also reliably informed that the sausage within is not what it used to be. So my question to Buhari at this crucial time: if elected, what will you do about Gala?
Growing up, I used to know that four of us children shared one tin of sardines. Because each tin contained four fish. Over the years, manufacturers have betrayed the trust of Nigerians who have been going to the shops to buy opaque tins in the hope that when the tins are finally opened there will be four fish. Again, I am reliably informed that contrary to this hope, there are now in most tins, two pieces of fish. Sometimes young masses have nothing else to add to their small pieces of bread but these tinned sardines. To reduce the number without a negotiation with the Nigerian populace is very wrong. No leader should allow this. If elected, what will Buhari do about sardines?
There are a lot of other issues of national importance but I do not want to inundate the General. A few at a time, so that we can discuss them exhaustively. I hope he replies.