OUT OF THE BOX: The Epistle of Apostle El-Rufai To St. Buhari, By Majeed Dahiru

Mallam El-Rufai has displayed a rare courage, which will open a flood gate of similar open denounciations of the Buhari presidency in order to save the APC from going down in infamy along with the president, the same way the PDP went down with former president Goodluck Jonathan because leading members of the party lacked the El-Rufai courage and objectivity to call him to order.

Apostle Paul is arguably the second most important name in Christianity after Christ Jesus, the Messiah, for his role in bringing the good news of the Gospel to the gentiles. In a series of well documented correspondences between him and leaders of the fledging Christian community among gentiles nations, one of which is recorded in the Holy Bible as “Epistle of Apostle Paul to the Romans”, he admonished them to the way of salvation, by accepting Christ Jesus as their personal Lord and saviour. Never did Apostle Paul direct his epistles to Christ Jesus himself, urging him on the path of righteousness. That would have been unthinkable because Jesus Christ is the Lord and saviour of mankind; infallible, immaculately conceived, pure and holy and above all forms of worldly temptations. Therefore, it was shocking to many Buhari worshippers when Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, a devout Apostle of the gospel of change, wrote a critical epistle to St. Buhari, admonishing the Messiah himself to turn away from iniquity and follow the narrow path of salvation. El-Rufai wrote, “In very blunt terms, Mr. President, our APC administration has not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance outside of our successes in fighting BH insurgency and corruption. Overall, the feeling even among our supporters today is that the APC government is not doing well”.

El-Rufai’s epistle was actually a rehash of what is already in the public space. The only difference is that this is coming from a close ally and major stakeholder in the Muhammadu Buhari presidency. The president has been criticised for his unrelenting blame of past administrations without doing much to right the perceived present wrongs. El-Rufai appears to share this view. “However, we cannot, after more than a year in office continue to rely only on this ‘blame them’ explanation. We were elected precisely because Nigerians knew that the previous administration was mismanaging resources and engaged in unprecedented waste and corruption. We must therefore identify the roots of our enduring economic under-performance as a nation, and present a medium-term national plan and strategy to turn things around. We must persuade Nigerians that they have to withstand the individual pains of today for the collective gains of tomorrow”. One issue raised in this epistle that was quite courageous was the issue of sectionalism at the highest level of government. “There is a strong perception that your inner circle or kitchen cabinet is incapable, unproductive and sectional. The quality and the undue concentration of key appointments to the North-East and exclusion of South-East are mentioned as evidence of this”.

So far there has been no official response from the presidency to the El-Rufai epistle to Buhari. Reactions from the public have been mixed. Some consistent critics of the Buhari administration feel vindicated, while some sympathisers accuse him of disloyalty and unbridled ambition. For the Buharideens, they are too shocked to react and are yet to reconcile El-Rufai’s position to their belief in the infallibility of their hero. The usual reaction would have been “corruption is fighting back” or “he is a wailing wailer who is crying over the stoppage of free money from government” but this is El-Rufai, a high apostle of St. Buhari, whom they dare not denounce like other opposition figures. However, what should be discernable to the critical mind is that there is an on-going realignment of forces within the ruling APC.

The denouncing of the Buhari presidency by progressive forces within the APC will be re-assure Nigerians who believed in the party but who are now mostly disillusioned by the dramatic failure of the Buhari administration to deliver on most of its campaign promises…

Beginning with the spectacular performance of Acting President Yemi Osibanjo, which exposed the inadequacies and inherent deficiencies in the leadership style of President Buhari, that is now further highlighted by the El-Rufai epistle, it is manifestly clear that the realigning forces within APC are determined to take their party back gradually but steadily. This is in separating the party’s original agenda of change from President Buhari’s idea of change; one that is narrow, shallow and empty, and which has failed – according to El-Rufai – to move the country away from the maladministration of the past to an institutionalised good governance structure today, which will guarantee a prosperous future for Nigeria and Nigerians. If the APC will be re-invented, it has become expedient to denounce the presidency of Buhari as not the agenda of the party but the idea of Buhari and his sectional and incompetent kitchen cabinet.

The denouncing of the Buhari presidency by progressive forces within the APC will be re-assure Nigerians who believed in the party but who are now mostly disillusioned by the dramatic failure of the Buhari administration to deliver on most of its campaign promises, and this will go a long way in repositioning the APC for a competitive edge in the 2019 general elections, in the face of a wobbling and fumbling PDP.

There is no doubt that the Muhammadu Buhari brand has become a burden and liability to the APC and the northern political establishment. A candidate with who millions of Nigerians faithfully stood since his foray into partisan politics in 2003, has become an unforeseen disappointment in power. The North, which is the president’s power base, would have remained unchanged if not worse of in every index of development at the end of his tenure in 2019. Nigerians and the APC will have to look beyond Muhammadu Buhari for good governance. It is not enough to fly the flag of integrity. It is more important to possess the twin qualities of wisdom and knowledge to deploy your integrity positively for the common good of the citizenry, without which your integrity may degenerate negatively into dishonest integrity.

These courageous voices of truth and objectivity from the North are a clear indication that the region will play a critical role in the post-Buhari era, if not lead the process of a new political order that will attempt to usher in a system of the change we still seek.

The president typifies a strong cult of personality with a large dedicated followership of devout worshippers who, like Boxer in Animal Farm, believes that Buhari, like Napoleon, is always right. One important lesson from history is that leaders who revel in the cult of personality end up impacting negatively on the affairs of nation building. In order to preserve the sanctity of the Soviet Union and keep the people in line, Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev had to denounce his predecessor Joseph Stalin, in a secret speech titled, “On the cult of personality and its consequences”, delivered to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1956. This was closely followed by an open De-Stalinisation process to remove the last vestiges of the Stalin era. Similarly, the APC must not only denounce Buhari but must present a clear cut alternative to what is currently available. A process of De-Buharinisation will have to be carried out in the APC. The ruling party must move away, as far as possible, from the Buhari legacy of nepotism, cronyism, favouritism, ethnicism and regionalism, collectively known as sectionalism, which was borne out his political scorched earth policy of 95 percent and five percent proportion of votes as a basis for government patronage, that has left the country more divided than ever before.

Mallam El-Rufai has displayed a rare courage, which will open a flood gate of similar open denounciations of the Buhari presidency in order to save the APC from going down in infamy along with the president, the same way the PDP went down with former president Goodluck Jonathan because leading members of the party lacked the El-Rufai courage and objectivity to call him to order. By this epistle, El-Rufai has put his loyalty to the nation above personal loyalty to a mentor and kinsman. His objective assessment of the Buhari administration reveals a man who is in a justifiable hurry to see Nigeria evolve into a great and prosperous nation. El-Rufai, like other prominent Northern influential but critical voices, as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II of Kano, Professor Ango Abdullahi, Junaid Muhammed, Farooq Kperoogi, Jaafar Jaafar, Zainab Suleiman and so many others too numerous to mention clearly shows an emerging class of northern political elite that are not willing to sacrifice the interest of Nigeria on the platter of regional sentiments. These courageous voices of truth and objectivity from the North are a clear indication that the region will play a critical role in the post-Buhari era, if not lead the process of a new political order that will attempt to usher in a system of the change we still seek.

Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through dahirumajeed@gmail.com.

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