It is my great delight to share with you anything I know (I hardly know anything) which would help you to become what God wants you to be. God has a wonderful plan for your life and I hope that reading this letter would reveal just that. Of course, you might not get to receive this letter, and by a stir of fate, you might also receive this letter. Until recently (precisely, a week ago), I’ve never been aware that the amiable General even had a daughter, talkmore of knowing he had one named Zahra. I don’t know you, and perhaps, I might never know you. Why not? Nigeria is such a plundered country that big men’s children like you hardly find Nigeria comfortable for your oyinbo-ish skins (the harsh harmattan; the oven-hot heat; the irritating dust and the erratic rain). You also don’t see suitable schools here to go to. When we were done with Okpoko Community Development Primary School back then, which was approximately 10km from home (we trekked to and fro the distance), we gained admission into Okpoko Boys Community High School (which was even farther; we still trekked the distance), and after that, by God’s grace, we are trying and managing at Moshood Abiola University. Then after that, we would troop out en masse into an over-crowded labor market, carrying about our files, waka-ing till our shoes no longer have soles and receiving insults upon injuries in offices we are searching for jobs. Some of us would turn out okada (bike) riders after our university education; while some others would take to the solace of prostitution or armed robbery due to the frustrations of joblessness. Did I mention that our parents lived from hand to mouth just to see us through school, only for us to turn out jobless? Even the ones who manage to pull through get paid a paltry #5,000 monthly. I believe that is not up to 1/4 of what you pay as school fee over there?
Ask your father, he would testify to the dungeons we have as schools here in Nigeria. At least I believe that was why he sent you to the U.K for studies. The primary schools we went to didn’t had simple latrines. The charade called labs were there for decorative purposes. The buildings were dilapidated; they had no roofs. Our teachers hardly came to class because the government was always owing their salaries, sometimes as much as six, seven or eight months, sometimes a whole year. Not that the salaries were much, it was just stipends. Our secondary schools were no better. We were always having shortage of teachers which greatly affected us in a negative way. Our universities- glorified secondary schools. Just two years ago, our tertiary lecturers back here under the aegis of ASUU embarked on an inglorious six-month strike, which had many undergraduates like me taking to okada riding, bus conducting, and even road-side mechanic-ing.
Now, I wasn’t stating all these facts just to intimidate you, but to intimate you of what we really went through and are going through just to get simple education, and afterwards, life here in Nigeria. Your father is a living witness. I heard your education and upbringing from the basics has been in the U.K throughout, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find out you are now claiming British citizenship. Who wants to be a Nigerian citizen, anyways? You certainly don’t know about such experiences, do you? You don’t know what it means to hope against hope.
I must admit, I admire your sudden shot to fame by not descending low to exposing your body parts. Bearing in mind that, such is the likely and major way ladies of nowadays get attention and gain recognition. I admire the decency. Kudos. Perhaps, I should praise your strict and stringent father, because back here, if a child does(behaves) well, it is the parent that receives the praise, and if he behaves badly, the same parent takes the blame for not bringing such child up properly.
However, I must say I find fault with the way your pictures have gone on to become the center of attraction in the build-up to the general elections. I presume you won’t even come home to vote, knowing how insecure the country is. You are the daughter of a public figure and nothing should happen to you. We, the children of the nobody’s are the ones to be used as bullet-proofs and dumped afterwards like corpses. We would be the ones to die in your father’s stead. We would be fighting his fight. With just a thousand naira (about £10!) in our pockets, youths like me would lose their lives to bullets in the name of electioneering campaigns for your father. Not to mention the tens of thousands others who have lost their lives in the name of Boko-haram evil attacks, which is also not unconnected with your father’s ambition to become Nigeria’s President.
Fine, you might be okay with the sudden attention, which is why I shouldn’t get so worked up. But being a youth who has lived all his life here in Nigeria; who has terribly felt the biting stings of failure in leadership (your father’s inclusive); who understands the meaning of the word joblessness,and who, obviously has seen hell on earth in the guise of governance, I believe it is my duty to call you to order. Being someone who has learnt a lot on the journey of being a Nigerian youth, it would be irresponsible of me not to intimate you of the things on ground. Your experience of any society when stacked up against mine would only reveal the enormous responsibility I have in bringing you in tune with happenstances in the country.
Zahra, my point is simply that your picture going viral like that of Kim Kardashian isn’t what your father really wants at the moment. Your name suddenly becoming a trending topic doesn’t augur well for your father’s political bid. It is trending for the wrong reasons. One might be tempted to ask, “Are you trying to divert attention away from the major actors on stage?” If so, for what reasons? Do you intend to throw your hat into the ring and contest against your father? Your father is someone who has been hailed throughout the media as a spotless saviour; a sinless messiah and a guiltless saint. His “change” mantra says so. For somebody who is vigorously trying to so ‘change’ Nigeria as he claims, his first port of call should be our attitudes, lifestyle and mentality. At least I so believe. And having his daughter’s picture trending on twitter isn’t the best way to begin such change. In my humble view, it shows that he could not even begin the change in his own sitting room.
Perhaps, it might do good, at this point to tell you a little about politics back here in Nigeria. Politics, as you know it in oyinboland has totally a different meaning back here in Nigeria. Nigerian politics is really ‘politicks’ translating into ‘poli’ – many, and ‘ticks’ – blood-sucking insects. Zahra, do you want such blood-sucking political insects to go for your loving father’s blood? I guess not. Well, having your picture trending on social media is such great avenue.
I don’t intend this letter to be this long, but thanks all the same for reading. I hope I have done my duty to you by calling you to order. Good day.
Arikor Collins Ogonnaya,