Permit me sirs, to lay the foundation of this letter with literature because as a literary person, critical thinking is my forte. The place of letter writing in the annals of human relationships is secured in literature where the epistolary mode holds sway. It is in that mode that Senegalese writer, Mariama Ba wrote her novel, So Long A Letter. The novel utilizes the grand potential of letter writing to communicate a deep message of betrayal to the world. In the novel, Ramotoulaye unveils the pain in her heart following the death of her husband who had betrayed her by marrying a second wife. Her best friend, Aissatou, is the recipient of the letter.
I am exploring the epistolary mode to pass a message to all governors in Nigeria: those who have spent four years in office and have about two months to go, those who have spent four years in office and have another four years to go, and finally those who will soon assume office for the first time as governors. All three categories of governors are the brainchild of the recent elections conducted across the country. Rarely, the results are a product of free and fair exercise. Often, the results are a product of mayhem and primitive brigandage. During the elections, humans assumed bestial identities and turned our cities into jungles. Demons that populated the forests were relocated to civilized habitations to inflict horror on humans, turning the exercise into a macabre dance of tragedy.
I have decided to write this letter to you all knowing that your Special Assistants/Advisers will embrace bootlicking and praise-singing, therefore, will not be able to tell you the truth. But the truth, as constant as Shakespeare’s northern star, will always shine forth. Our states bleed with poverty, the people daily grapple with denial in the midst of plenty. That is the truth. Nigerians across the states are mourning because they have been betrayed by governance at the state level. If we concede that the federal government, in all its grandeur, is too removed from the people, the same cannot be said of state governments.
The level of infrastructural decay in many states equates to a scandal. The roads constitute a snare to life, the state hospitals are a caricature of some clinic. The state universities, secondary and primary schools are all in a state of pitiful disrepair. Rural developments such as electricity and pipe-borne water have been left in the hands of the community. In many of the states, civil servants are owed several months of salaries and pensioners are not paid. Security, which is a cardinal responsibility of a responsive government, has collapsed abysmally. Citizens across the states live in febrile anxiety in the midst of growing anomy. Unemployment in the states has reached a crescendo and in many cases, the state government has been turned into a family enterprise to the exclusion of excellence, and accountability.
Dear governor who has spent four years in office but will quit in the next two months, I greet you sir. That you have lost the elections means nothing. A loser today can become a winner tomorrow. The people may have rejected you either because you failed them or you were a victim of high-level politicking where some principalities in the state wanted you out for refusing to be their puppet. Please sir, ensure you pay off all outstanding salaries both to active civil servants and to pensioners. Complete any project you started within the very short time you have in office. Do not indulge in the ignominious act of pillaging the state treasury before quitting office. You may have lost elections this year, but you can become very relevant in Nigeria’s political arena in the future.
Dear governor who has spent four years in office and will spend another four years in office, congratulations sir. If the people voted for you, bravo. But if you have manipulated the electoral process to perpetuate yourself in power, examine your conscience. Besides benefitting from fraud, you have subverted the will of the people and forced yourself on them. Please sir, look around your state and outline your achievements in the last four years. What have you done in the education sector, health sector, roads, security and other infrastructural sectors in the state? How many jobs have you created, what initiatives have you enunciated that can make life better for the people? How many billions have left the state coffers unaccounted for? How many contracts have you awarded on paper without any corresponding physical implementation? Let the next four years signify a redemptive transformation in your heart and across the states. You will do well to serve humanity and inner peace that comes with honest service will be your portion.
Dear governor who just won the last election and will be sworn into office for the first time in the next two months, congratulations. It will be a totally new experience for you as a public servant. Never mind if you have been a lawmaker before or a business mogul. The seat of the governor is big and you will be the ultimate boss. If you have defeated an incumbent governor or you defeated the anointed candidate of the incumbent governor, congratulations sir. Remember you are called to impact the lives of the people, not to enrich yourself. Your allegiance is to the people, not to one man. You are called to create jobs, and rehabilitate the infrastructural sector. Please sir, have a look at the state hospitals, the schools, the roads, and sundry areas of concern in your state. You are expected to create avenues for revenue to generate money for the state and not depend on Abuja for a monthly allowance. Sir, if you do well in the next four years, the people will endorse you for another four years and you would not need to rig elections.
Dear governors, instead of embracing infamy, please embrace honour. God bless you all.
•Adiele wrote from University of Lagos