Open letter to General Muhammadu Buhari
Dear General Buhari, I sincerely believe you should not contest next year's presidential election. Of course, if we are asking you to stay off, NOBODY should even contemplate mentioning the name of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. In a decent country, Babangida should be in jail or already hanged for multiple murders. So, this letter is just about you, who some of us still consider a very decent human being with some flaws. You were an icon of moral rectitude and genuine patriotism until your sojourn with the late despot, Gen. Sani Abacha, as Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). While Abacha's murderous regime lasted, not for once did we hear you insist that the right things must be done. You were there when Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was murdered. You propped Abacha up when Pa Alfred Rewane was murdered in the comfort of his home. And there were others like that including protesters who were killed for insisting that the results of a democratic election be respected and the winner announced.
As PTF Chairman, you were an ethnic champion with the way projects under your supervision were executed. The Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Shagamu/Benin Expressway and their Ibadan/Ilorin counterpart became death traps because you deliberately ignored these national arteries of commerce and social mobilisation due to a myopic vision of 'punishing' the Yoruba Nation for standing up to Abacha.
The restiveness in the Niger Delta region would have been contained a bit if the funds under your supervision as PTF Chairman were used effectively to put in place good infrastructure in the oil producing areas, where you got the money from. Instead, between 80 - 90% of PTF's activities were concentrated in the North-West sub-region, which is your home area. And in the South-East, the deplorable state of the federal roads there is more than enough proof that the PTF under your watch was more interested in other places. You did nothing there.
For a man who often takes on former President Olusegun Obasanjo as an ethnic champion, your record in office as PTF Chairman and Obasanjo's eight years as president shows the Ota Chicken Farmer to be more nationalistic than you in every ramification. Obasanjo left the Yoruba Nation in 2007 as he met it in 1999. The federal roads around us remain the same. Same with other infrastructure, which is why residents along the banks of Ogun River continue to suffer from the negative fallouts of overflow from the Federal Government owned Oyan Dam in Ogun State .
Kindly note that one is not accusing you of being corrupt. No. We want a leader who is acceptable to all segments of our society. Such a leader must also be courageous enough to face the entrenched Oligarchy/Godfathers who thrive on corruption and impunity to perpetually put Nigeria in bondage. You have some of these qualities. But being an ethnic champion, you cannot be the new face of Nigeria that this country desperately needs. Hope you remember your ethnic trip to former Oyo State Governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina, while the old man was still in office?
And don't think I dislike you because of your leadership of the Fulani cause across Nigeria and other parts of West Africa . No. My best friend, Ahmadu Adamu, is a thoroughbred Fulani from Gembu Town in Taraba State . If I die today, he is the first person who knows what to do about my immediate family. And in Kaduna , which is my second home, some of the key people I rely on in life are Fulanis. We are like blood relations. But in matters like these, emotions should not be part of it. You should rest assured that your candidacy will not fly in about 80 - 90% of Southern Nigeria .
General, you are a deeply religious person. And despite your failings during the Abacha days, you are one of the few moral icons Nigeria has today. I know the average Northern Talakawa holds you in very high esteem. During my recent sojourn in Kaduna , Katsina, Kano , Sokoto, Kebbi and Abuja , my usual destination for food was among these men who enjoy pap with beans cake (kose/akara) spiced with ground pepper early in the morning. You have a cult-like following among them. From my study, I know it has to do with your moral uprightness.
But in the same places, the very opposite is true among the upper class and majority of the middle class. A number of them believe it has to do with your original status in life, in which they claim (like the Indians) you should 'know your place'. I do not agree with that at all. But as pointed out earlier, I am a realist who does not use emotions to take decisions. In your part of Nigeria , it is the upper class who directs things. The middle and lower classes always fall in line. These decision makers do not want a Buhari to be president for their own reasons.
However, the same people who are working against your candidacy, respects Mr. Nuhu Ribadu. Their major worry is that like you, he might want to stop their illicit running down of every segment of the Northern society and Nigeria as a whole. But till date, at least, from my findings, they have not been able to pin any negative 'caste' label on Ribadu. The only issue remains Ribadu's uncompromising stance against corruption, which they fear could deny them their status if the man is elected president.
You have the same traits with Ribadu when it comes to work and orientation about what a decent society should be like. The only difference is that, Ribadu is very acceptable to Southerners and grudgingly so among the upper class in Northern Nigeria . Ribadu's acceptability among the Northern middle class is also on the same level with the South. You control the Talakawas there almost 100%. But you and I know that on election day in your part of Nigeria , these downtrodden members of the society will vote and leave voting centres which could be hundreds of miles apart. It is the middle and upper classes who determine the results of elections in Northern Nigeria .
If you contest the presidential election, there is no doubt the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will retain its stranglehold on Northern Nigeria given the fact that your supporters cannot do the needful on election day apart from voting and leaving the place. Of course, you should not consider getting much support from the South because of the reasons mentioned earlier. The fact is that you'll lose! Unfortunately, if I read you correctly, there is nothing dearer to your heart than a replacement of the current corrupt and visionless Federal Government.
Given the above, I'll strongly suggest you throw your weight behind Ribadu as Nigeria 's next president. He is young, vibrant and has the same orientation like yourself. What is more, he has enormous goodwill in Southern Nigeria . Beyond the issue of personal ambition, I sincerely believe you should not allow this opportunity to pass us by in 2011. You definitely cannot win. But you can assist another, who is like you, to win. It is like another battlefield. Soldiers often sacrifice themselves strategically for their colleagues to achieve a difficult objective. Those are the real heroes of war!
Okeliwo, Oke Ife,
Ogun State , Nigeria .