Monday, June 22, 2009


By Biko Agozino

Dear Prof.,

If to say na me be President Yar’Adua, I for reply your long letter like this: Thank you for your so long a letter in the tradition of Mariama Ba. How madam and pickin them dey? Na waa for you brother Niyi self. You done dey turn oyibo o! How you take write your brother so long a letter and you no even ask about family, unlike Mariama? Plus, na only oyibo man go write one letter put am for three envelopes say this one na part one, that one na part two and then this last one na part three. African man go put all the parts for one envelope to save money for stamp. Abi na lie? You sabi how much poor man go pay to buy The Guardian for three straight days (May 26-28) just to read your dogon turenchi? You know say your letter dey sweet like your poetry wey we no dey miss for Sunday Tribune in those days. I beg make you no stop o, make you keep on writing a column now. I beg now, e joor, biko nu, mbo, dualla.

Anyway sha, joke na joke and Joké na person name. The national problems that you bemoaned in your letter(s) also preoccupy yours truly, wallai tu lai. I thank you for adding your powerful voice to the task of seeking solutions. In the words of the young Nigerian Pan Africanist, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, who was killed in a tragic motor accident in Kenya on Africa Day and buried in Funtua recently; Do Not Agonize, Organize! Feel free to join us in doing what you can to help solve the problems.

But Prof, even you will admit that you were going over the top when you concluded by suggesting that the re-branding of our country could be represented with the metaphor of re-branding of a rotting corpse. Haba! Quite to the contrary, Insha Allah, our people dey kamkpe, we continue to be vibrant and very much alive, for as you said in one of your poems, ‘Our Earth Will Not Die’, and as you put it in your letter, our people remain dynamic. Our task is to tap the dynamism for the development of the people in a sound environment.

I was also surprised that you heaped all the bucks at my door mouth without a word of advice to the international community that created the financial meltdown that is affecting the local economy on how to lend a hand while they spend hundreds of billions to rescue their own firms. Nor did you have any words for local politicians and residents to please behave themselves in a democratic manner. Our people should learn to lose elections gracefully or go to court to challenge the results reasonably instead of all that magomago and gragra to intimidate voters or influence electoral officials. Four years time, you have a chance to try again, it no be by force. The same goes for militants who boast about kidnapping and killing workers in Nigeria – let them go to court if they have a genuine case.

My next surprise is that you did not mention anything positive that we are doing on the ground in Nigeria. I am pleased to tell you that I discuss our Seven Point Program with other African servant leaders and I hope that they will accept and implement the key principles. For instance, we are making available this year, a two hundred billion naira credit facility for commercial farmers. This has never happened in this country before whereas Europe and North America routinely give hundreds of billions annually to their farmers as farm subsidies alone.

In the past leaders of developing countries have tried to lobby that the developed countries should withdraw subsidies from their own farmers to level the playing field. None of them figured out that it was much more practical to provide as much help as they could to their own farmers on an annual basis as Professor Biko Agozino has been arguing for some time now. This has changed from this year in Nigeria. Do you advise that we continue to invest hundreds of billions annually to support farmers in this country? As I told The Guardian, agriculture contributes 60% to our GDP compared to 20% from petroleum and gas and 5% from industry. We need to build up our capacities in all areas with the state acting as an activist and catalyst for development in partnership with the private sector and the community at large. Shouldn’t we make similar grants to the arts, research and development, small businesses, inventions, sports, health, education, power-generation, transportation, annually?

Bros, let me end before my letter gets as long as yours. You know say I no sabi book reach you, Prof! Thanks again brother Niyi for writing. Please write again soon and keep the suggestions for innovative policy options coming. Make you greet your family for me. If na me be him, na so I for reply you. We go see now, Se gwo be, Ka e mesia nu, Alafia.

For those who missed Osundare's Letter(s), follow the link below: