I hope that you are not reading this while looking over your shoulders, unsure of when the boys that have been saluting you may decide to remove you from the grandeur that you have been so accustomed to over the years.
You may be wondering what is wrong with some of your colleagues you have been meeting at the African Union gatherings in Addis Ababa or at the numerous African leaders’ summits in Washington, London, Moscow or Beijing. How could they not be so clever to play those boys so they couldn’t overthrow them?
Anyway, I know that you are surrounded by family members and some other people happy with the lives they live that they may not be able to tell you the truth. I hope for once they let this letter to reach you. Your Excellency, I mean well.
You may not be cleverer than your colleagues who have now been overthrown. If you have been following some news, eight of your buddies have been overthrown by their ungrateful military officers in the last three years in Africa. Some have resorted to speaking English for the first time to rally support in form of “noise” so they could reverse the coups against them. We all thought they only spoke French.
I hope Mr President, you are practicing a few words in another international language such as French or Chinese or Russian. You know the Wagner boys only speak Russian and have the potential to prolong your overstay in office but not for too long.
However, the most effective way you can rule for as long you want is to do certain things right. Your military boys, Mr President, can only overthrow you once they realize you are not as loved by the general population as you claim. Despite the show-off, when they look in your eyes, they only see fear.
They know how vulnerable you are every time you move out of the presidential mansion and they see the number of cars in your convoy, the crowd that is unhappy because a road has been closed for hours before your motorcade of 100 bullet-proofed vehicles drives through.
They see that your rallies are only attended by people in search of rolex, not the wristwatch, the food. They see that your trusted advisors don’t believe at all in you but they don’t just want to rock their personal boats — they have children attending Harvard or Oxford and they are scared that telling you the truth will ruin their finances and make them unable to live the life.
So, what do you need to do? Mr President, ensure that every household earns an income that can sustain them. If agriculture is their thing, ensure they can earn from it to afford life. They don’t want handouts. They want to work the gardens and earn from their sweat.
Most Africans are too proud to beg. Those in urban areas are looking for jobs. The problem you have is that you go through the private wing at the airport; so, you don’t see many of the young people leaving your country in search of odd jobs in the Middle East, where the leaders despite their long stay in office have no coup threat.
The majority of these young people don’t want to go but have not been given a choice. That is why some walk the breadth of the Sahara so that they can be piled on rickety boats to cross into Europe. Many such boats capsize. Instead of addressing the lack of jobs, they instead see your henchmen building mansions the size of shopping malls and even whisking their girlfriends away.
Those whose girlfriends are lucky to escape the clutches of your kinsmen, suffer in hospitals while giving birth. Some even die. They have seen their parents die because the hospitals have no drugs or qualified health workers. Yet they hear that you fly your children to Europe for the most mundane things such as routine immunization!
If their children don’t die as infants, they attend schools where there are no teachers or even a simple bench. They study on empty stomachs and finish school unable to read or even write their name. Yet they now realize that for you and your family, you have private tutors who even train you to speak some international languages should problems come your way.
In every speech you give, statistics roll off your tongue. You talk about minerals that their country possesses and you claim life is better than when you assumed office decades ago. However, those statistics aren’t reflected in their pockets.
The roads are terribly potholed. There is no reliable and affordable electricity. Piped water remains a pipe dream. They see no future for their children. They don’t care about elections at all. They know you steal them to justify your stay in office. All they want is a better life. And if you give them that life, no army officer will overthrow you.
Mr President, this model worked for Singapore and in countries like UAE and many of the Asian Tigers— countries at the same level as the country your preside over a mere 60 years ago.
Copy and paste that model since you want to rule for life or being succeeded by your offspring and there will be nobody jubilating your ouster. In fact, no boy in your so-called elite force or republican army or whatever fancy name you call your guards will dare to overthrow a genuinely loved leader.
The writer is a communication and visibility consultant