‘Gbenga Sesan: An Open Letter To The Nigerian Voter

Dear Fellow Nigerian,

Thank you for taking the time to read this, as I know you have a lot on your plate.

Let me start by acknowledging that regardless of what I write in the next few paragraphs, some of our fellow citizens will go ahead to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan on FeBuhari 14, 2015. To those sworn supporters of the president, you have our respect but I hope that you are not doing this because you think it is too late to change your mind.

To those who are planning to vote for Buhari/Osinbajo, please make sure that you don’t lose your Permanent Voter’s Card (or that you get it if you’re yet to), and that on that day, you go to the polling unit on time. Before voting, observe the activities around you. During voting, obey the law and be courteous to your fellow voters. After voting, stay back to see the result at your polling unit. Take a picture. Share it on social media, so that it won’t change between the polling unit and the ward.

This letter is really for the moderate Jonathan supporters, fellow citizens who like Buhari but are not too keen to vote, and the golden undecided voters. Allow me to speak with you as a fellow citizen whose life in Nigeria has exposed him to many reasons to worry about the continuous decline in our dear country. I’ll start with those who “like Buhari” but haven’t taken it upon themselves to actively campaign or do what’s necessary to ensure a Buhari victory on FeBuhari 14, 2015.

Dear GMB fan, your vote is more important than you think. I say this because some of us are beginning to see the momentum enjoyed by the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket, and thinking: “wow, we will win this thing!” There’s a temptation for you to slow down with the passion required to pick up your Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) or to be unavailable on election day – due to office work, family needs or emergencies that do not include the earth coming to a standstill. GMB needs every vote he can get from every corner of Nigeria so he can start out as a leader for all of Nigeria. Vote, and get out more votes. Call your uncle and your sister. This is a good time to mend fences with those family members who think you’ve forgotten them. It’s high time you worked all contacts on your phone. Vote for GMB, and get out every vote you can for him.

To the golden group of undecided voters, the current toast of every party and influencers of what could be a close race during Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, thank you for recognizing the power of your PVC to make Nigeria a better country. Let me start with the benefits of a Buhari/Osinbajo presidency. The duo of Buhari and Osinbajo – and the team that they will select to join them in the huge task of governance – have between them demonstrated leadership and capacity to lead Nigeria out of our current predicament. Security is high on the list, and I’m sure you’ve heard of the blows dealt to insurgents by General Buhari in the past. Boko Haram should not be something a leader will tell his people to endure because “it happens all over the world”; it should be crushed decisively! Let General Buhari do something that he is not afraid to do – make Nigeria safe. It’s the first responsibility of government, President Jonathan has failed in this area, and we need to not get used to stories of the death and/or kidnap of fellow citizens. Please vote for a leader who will help Nigeria on the path to safety. Vote for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket.

Dear undecided voter, I also know that you are worried about corruption, especially now that it is clear that the Nigerian economy is taking a big hit. The Buhari/Osinbajo ticket will wage war against corruption, as any sensible government should. For the many years that Buhari has been a subject of political attacks, no one has been able to stick the label, “corrupt”, on him. You and I know that not many politicians can pass that test. He is practicing what he will preach. If you worry that he could overdo it, remember that his partner is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who will ensure that the war against corruption is fought within the provisions of Nigerian law.

The other critical factor that should decide this election is the economy, and the past few days have provided the Buhari/Osinbajo team an opportunity to explain how their presidency will restore and grow the Nigerian economy. You may also visit www.thisisbuhari.com to see the details of the plan. I also know you have been told outright lies about Buhari. Thanks to the volunteer team at FactChecki.ng, some of these lies have been shown to be what they are – lies. If there is anything you are not sure about, please share on that website and/or ask around to be sure you are not being held to a past you dislike because of planted fears of the future.

Now, to those who are considering a vote for Jonathan for many reasons, I hope the next few sentences get you thinking about a change of mind. If you change your mind and decide to vote for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket, thank you! I will address three broad topics – GEJ’s achievements, “the devil we know” theory and “true change that Nigeria needs.” Over the years, Nigerians have not had the benefit of good governance and it has become easier for anyone with access to public funds to advertise achievements as if this isn’t why they fought hard to become public officials in the first place.

Let me start by saying that even a faulty clock is right at least twice a day. Of course, there are things that the Jonathan administration can point to as achievements but let’s ask a few questions: is your life better, today, than it was in 2011? Has the commander-in-chief shown enough leadership to fulfill the primary role of government? On May 29, 2011, President Jonathan promised to secure Nigerian lives and property. We have recorded more loss of lives under his watch and his reaction has ranged from outrightly ignoring the calamity under his watch to delegating action that should come from the mourner-in-chief. Is this the leadership Nigeria needs for the next four years? No. We need a leader that is decisive; one that won’t dance on the graves of the citizens he swore to protect.

Dear GEJite or fellow citizen leaning towards rewarding President Jonathan with another four years in office, I am not ignorant of the other reason many would rather vote for him. “The devil we know is better than the one we don’t know,” people say. I could easily say don’t reward failure with four more years in office but let’s reason as citizens who also understand the concept of performance, and who know that there is a relationship between the quality of life of the average Nigerian and the kind of leadership we allow. We all know that President Jonathan has had more than five years to show Nigerians what transformation means, but what we’re seeing him do on the campaign trail now is make additional promises of how we will fight corruption. Later. He’s promised to limit terrorism. Later. He’s promised to improve the quality of Nigerian lives. Later.

We don’t need a “later” leader, we need someone who will use the resources (s)he has access to, right now, to make change happen in Nigeria. Right now. Not later. The problem with the “devil we know” is that he has tried his best, but his best is not good enough. He has led your company, as a Nigerian shareholder, towards bankruptcy. You and I know it’s time to change the CEO of this enterprise, and that’s what we should do. Every organization that votes for change knows that there is a certain level of uncertainty that comes with change, but reality in this case is that we can model the change we want from our next president. Thankfully, Buhari has a CV that shows expertise in at least 2 of our most critical problems at the moment – security and corruption. Let’s hire him and not allow the current CEO kill this enterprise.

Let me close with this: Nigeria needs true change that will take a few decades to take root (it took much more to ruin what we had) but we MUST start that process right now. It is said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and that the next best time is now. The duo of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo are the storm that Nigeria needs before the calm work of rebuilding takes root. They will fight the corruption eating deep into the veins of Nigeria. They will tackle the ugly insecurity that Nigerians are almost getting used to. They will get Nigerians excited about a new direction, leaning on their previous positive contributions to Nigeria and an excellent team of the best of Nigeria.

Dear fellow Nigerian, we have a chance to commence our journey towards the Nigeria of our dreams on FeBuhari 14, 2015, and I invite you to vote for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket because instead of giving excuses or blaming others, they will get the work done. They see the anger. They feel the frustration. They know they either work or get shown the way out. Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Professor Yemi Osinbajo are eager to get to work but they need your permission to lead Nigeria. Vote for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket on FeBuhari 14, 2015, and let the work of change begin!


‘Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.  ‘Gbenga tweets via @gbengasesan


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