By Mutiu Iyanda
In the United States of America, letters have been written by the outgoing Presidents to incoming successors despite political and ideological differences. As a tradition the letters are not made public until a few years after the exit of the former presidents. Whether in the USA or other countries, where former presidents deem it fit to write notes to the new presidents, the contents have always been on national issues and possible challenges for the new presidents throughout their tenure.
One fact that is difficult to disregard is that most ex-presidents cannot resist the urge to stay relevant. This has been the main reasons for the former presidents to use any avenue to express their feelings about the state of their countries, especially when critical issues are raging and threatening national unity and security. Beyond contributing to the socioeconomic and political discourse, many ex-presidents have devoted their time to charitable works.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is one of such ex-presidents who have used and still employing various means to express his feelings about the present and future conditions in Nigeria. Within a year, Nigerians have had the privilege of reading three open letters from the ex-president to the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
In January, 2018, Nigerians read political and economic uncertainties expressed by the former President. On January 20th, 2019, Nigerians were also flooded with the news of a new letter from Chief Obasanjo, comparing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with the former military Head of States, General Sani Abacha. On July 15th, 2019, a new letter emerged, calling on President Buhari to speedily address insecurity in the country.
Analysis of the first two letters shows that the level of happiness of Chief Obasanjo reduces by 4%. In 2018, he was contended by 59%. Fifty-five percent was discovered in 2019’s first letter. His unhappiness about the state of the country is largely connected with the 2019 general elections. While happiness and sadness dominated the previous letters, the new letter is full of fear (64%) and more than half of the expected percent of happiness (56%) and sadness (54%). From the beginning to the end of the new letter, analysis reveals that ex-president was analytical in his construction of sentences and paragraphs, establishing his usual ‘constructive criticism’.
Expressing his fear about the state of the country, ex-president notes that “I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay. Without being immodest, as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body, you can understand, I hope, why I am so concerned.”
Chief Obasanjo was sad that Boko Haram remains a daily issue of insecurity because of the approach being used by the security forces and the government. “Say what you will, Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage.
The former president believes that the failure of the government to address the herdsmen and farmers crises have snowballed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country. According to him, the indifferent attitude to the public calls regarding the holistic solution will continue to be at the expense of Nigerian unity and possibly its continued existence.
Source: The Punch, Obasanjo’s Letter, Infoprations Analysis, 2019
Public Interest: Fear and Insecurity in 15 States and FCT
Do the ex-president’s feelings translate into public interest? Answers to this question were sought using real time data. From 15 to 16, 2019 (till 4pm), people in Benue, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Rivers, Ogun, Imo, Delta, Anambra, Oyo, Lagos, Edo and Abuja developed interests in insecurity and fear. Analysis reveals that the interest in fear was higher (75.29 score) than in insecurity (49.56 score) during the period. However, with the consideration of the severity level, interest in insecurity (29.500) was higher than in fear (28.437). This signifies that people were more concerned about insecurity than the fear expressed by the ex-president. This does not mean that people are not aligned with the issues that led to the ex-president’s fear.
For instance, analysis further indicates a 27.5% connection of the level of fear in four avoidable calamities and overall fear in the letter with the public interest in fear in the last 24 hours. This is on the high side for the insecurity. Analysis reveals 32.2% link of the level of fear in four avoidable calamities and overall fear in the letter with the public interest in insecurity during the period. This also establishes that one percent of ex-president’s fear increases public interest in insecurity by 32.2%.
From the insights, it is obvious that governments and security forces need to address insecurity without fear or favour. It has reached a stage where groups or individuals’ interests must be abandoned for the good of every citizen.
Source: Google Trends, Infoprations Analysis, 2019