My dear brother, I read your viral open letter to the President, where you shared your thoughts about how you think his successor should be chosen. As I am sure you are aware, it has triggered a lot of debates nationwide. It has been perceived in different ways by different people depending on their political persuasions and the interests they represent. As someone who is an activist from the Northwest like you and who admires your prolific writing capability from a distance, I felt I should offer you some words of counsel.
First is to alert you that the dominant public perception is that your letter appears quite disrespectful to the person and office of Mr President. As a senior member of the party, I am aware that you have several channels that you can use to offer him any suggestions as may be necessary to guide him in any decision that affects the party and country. Your choice to write an open letter suggests that you are deliberately intent on whipping up cheap sentiments and playing to the gallery.
Secondly, you came across as entirely disingenuous to have benefitted from consensus just a few weeks ago only to turn around to criticize the same process that brought you to office. I am sure that Nigerians would have taken you more seriously if you had insisted on an open contest during the last convention. Curiously, you did not and that made your position untenable. Furthermore, all the governors chose their successors through consensus, and you did not raise any objection. Doing so now is not ideal.
For the avoidance of doubt, Mr President solicited the reciprocity and support of the governors and other stakeholders in choosing his successor. The request was unambiguous. He is the chooser and has not invited anyone to interfere in his right to choose. All over the world, a President has a right to identify someone who he or she feels can continue to consolidate on what he or she has achieved. Nigeria is no peculiar case. However, this is politics, and it is also within your right to interpret the President’s statement differently.
As you acknowledged in your letter, governors exercised the privilege of picking their successors in their respective states. Yet, you worry that allowing the President to exercise the same right will amount to allowing loyal party leaders and members to become ordinary observers when sensitive issues are being considered. Do you mean politics at the state level are less sensitive? Is internal democracy exclusively preserved for the centre?
Many of you claim to be familiar with President Buhari, yet you keep misunderstanding his disposition to inclusiveness as if it is a weakness. That is wrong and potentially misleading. Your implicit comparison of Mr President’s resolve to exercise his right to freedom to choose a successor to a former President’s failed third term bid exposes your desperation.
Furthermore, your reference to unity, internal democracy and moral standing made the letter hollow and laughable because every discerning politician could easily decipher your motive to prosecute a rehearsed political hatchet job. I am sure Mr. President himself will not read your letter beyond the first paragraph.
I want to assure you that President Buhari continues to enjoy wide respect among the party leadership, and it is expected that he will get the necessary support when he announces his preferred choice of successor soon. Your stance in the letter further deepens the perception of the pathology of duplicity and chameleonic tendencies often associated with your known backers in this futile proxy war against Mr President.
My little word of caution is for you to understand the limits of political mercantilism. It does not look good to cast aspersions on the Leader of the party and country at a very sensitive period like this. Finally, I suggest that you consider being circumspect in your speeches lest you mislead the public into assuming that your position reflects how things stand in the party.
My prayer is that you re-consider your current posturing and immediately apologize to President Buhari.
I wish you the very best in your current position and future endeavours. Best wishes.
Dr. Suleiman Musa wrote this piece from Zaria. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org