Eventhough the study of History had been ‘annulled’ and banished from the academic curricula of Primary and secondary schools in the country, its importance remains undiminished in human and political enterprise. Apart from probing the past for better understanding of the present, History can foretell the future from realities of the present.
Memory lane of our chequered political history is strewn with myriad of styles and strategies deployed in the name of governance at various times by various leaders. IBB earned the sobriquets of ‘Maradona’ and ‘Evil Genius’ for his knack of saying what he did not mean and meaning what he did not say! OBJ was labelled a democratic dictator and perfect example of an imperial President during his stewardship.
History also records that there were cabinet members who were also ingenius in their styles of executing their respective briefs. There’s no way IBB era will be recorded without mention of Tony Momoh, a Journalist and lawyer, who served IBB as a Minister of information and Culture. It was Momoh who adroitly deployed the age long art of letter writing to explain and mobilise support for IBB’s controversial and unpopular policies and programmes like FEM, SFEM and increase in pump price of fuel et al. Despite his ministerial toga, Momoh tasked his intellectual sagacity to personally articulate government stance on issues in open letters he charitably entitled: LETTER TO MY COUNTRY MAN. They were published in series in national dailies and pamphlets. As a student of Nigerian politics, I verily believe OBJ must have fallen in love with Momoh’s style of public communication and has conveniently deployed this channel of communication to ventilate his thoughts on project Nigeria. While in office, OBJ wrote open letters to Wole Soyinka and Audu Ogbeh.
History has also shown that as an elder statesman out of public office, OBJ has written open letters on various national issues to GEJ and PMB. His latest missive published on July 15, according to History, will be his second to PMB since the latter began his tenancy in ASO ROCK! As usual, the recurring theme of the latest letter is on the state of the nation.
Insecurity has enveloped our beleaguered nation state from all the four geographical points. From the deductions of OBJ in the said letter, if ignored with propaganda and politics, our country may soon be the latest addition to the ignoble league of failed states abandoned to ethnic and religious warlords! Each day comes with news of killings, banditry and carnage. Things are threatening to fall apart and the centre seems to be at wits end.
The centrifugal pull seems to be garnering more strength than the centripetal push. Truth be told, there’s nothing new in OBJ’s last letter that has not been exhaustively articulated and discussed in public fora. The attention given OBJ’s letter is largely due to the Mass communication dictum that: MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE.
OBJ’s voice has the potentials to resonate and reverberate within and without. No wonder his legion of political enemies have left the message to settle for his mouth, hands and legs! But is there a better way to salvage a nation on life support than open rebuke and clarion call for dialogue?
Written By: Innocent Okon Snr