Open Letter to Mr President:  Still a Tough Journey

President Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu BuhDear Mr President,

As an interested Nigerian, I acknowledge that  winning an election in the Nigerian context is congratulatory, indeed celebratory, deserving pumping of champagne, rolling out the drums and clashing of cymbals. After all, it is not easy to go into a civil  venture considered war and do or die affair, especially against a loaded opposition whose chest of political war arsenal is heavily intimidating and come out victorious, coming out victorious.

While I recognise the seriousness with which the war was fought before your triumph over your brother and former vice president, a prime traditional title holder, Wazirin  Adamawa and highly influential Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who led an almost unassailable siege of the People’s Democratic Party against a seemingly in impregnable APC fortress, our congratulations to you will will not be coming now.

Yes, you were able to ward of PDP assault and in all your strongholds, it was a fight to finish with both of you springing surprises against each other. Ultimately the will of Allah prevailed that you will be returned to power, garnering an excess of 15 million votes to defeat your patriot brother who trailed you with over 11 million votes in the exciting presidential election.

Mr President, I consider Nigeria lucky to still have you at this auspicious moment of our history that the world is waiting on the country to unleash her potentials or prospects of greatness. This is not your first time in power and we know the impact you wrought  on the country in your time as a military head of state.

We know the circumstances of your ouster less than two years into your transformational, national redemptive mission and we know how the affairs of the nation have been run since then.

We also know with certainty, how the People’s Democratic Party which inherited the country from the military to usher in the fourth republic managed state matters for 16 years from 1999 until 2015 before the progressive political platform the All Progressives Congress APC with which you sincerely south power swept off the rapacious party from its reign of waste and ruthlessness.

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Mr President, there are so many genuine concerns of Nigerians, concerns that predate the fourth republic, indeed enduring concerns of national cohesion, security and development. Nigeria at almost 60, Nigeria is yet to arrive among the countries she started with in development process.

The country is challenged by mass poverty. Our social infrastructure are generally dilapidated and public service seriously compromised not satisfactory serving citizen needs.

Mr. President, as a Muslim, I wish to let you know with all sincerity that it is not yet a celebration over your electoral victory in derision of your brother who is of cause aggrieved about the outcome of an election he staked everything to win. Rather, I will only appeal to him to team up with you to lift Nigeria out of the woods. For you sir, I will rather say no rejoicing yet because the journey to build Nigeria is just beginning with your reelection.

You have just a grace of four years to prove to cynics and rivals, and indeed millions of Nigerians who invested their hopes of brighter, rewarding future of Nigeria in you because of your capacity, capability, reliability and integrity. I also trust you.

I believe in you. But I also know that the dynamics and complexities of our polity are capable of thwarting any genuine intention, vision or action. Yet Nigerians are generally an impatient lot to tolerate excuse.

So, Dear Mr President, you will need to ride over the overwhelming storms of Nigerian politics and overcome mundane yet crippling distractions in making choices and decisions because our nation no longer has time for promises and experiments. What the masses are clamouring for is delivering on your  compact, charter or the contract that you entered with them upon which they returned you to power. My prayers for you.

Between 2015 and now, I am not strange to the distractions that you face in your efforts to steady the ship of the nation in the buffeting political storms that assailed the us. Nigerians are witnesses to the treachery and internal rebellion, even from close aides and political associates, including the life threatening health challenges you suffered, yet you were not in any way dampened in resolve nor disillusioned in spirit or passion for Nigeria.

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That you survived these are evidence that Allah is with you, a witness to the purity of your intentions for the nation and the stock of integrity you parade. Indeed He is a protector of the sincere.

Serious financial crimes and corruption are still endemic, even afflicting the sactum of justice and the hallowed chambers of the legislature. Discontent is palpable over representation and access to power. In the midst of this, the engine of government, the civil service is gisgruntled over paltry pay in an environment where the political industry festers with high turnover without tangible dividends of democracy to the electorate  these political office holders and lawmakers represent or who were voted to serve their interest.

For any meaningful development to be witnessed in Nigeria, our country must first be at peace with herself and with her neighbours.. in the the past, our country has wasted resources, even lives in the nature of our economic management that is heavily dependent on and foreign dominated as well as in the crises and irritants that have locked down our potentials because of their security and productivity implications.

The concern of most Nigerians now is what would be the fiber of the new government under you in your re-election? What kind of government will you lead sir?

They  are not unmindful of the challenge of composing a nationally representative cabinet in Nigeria without offending the primordial sensibilities that have stultifies development in the country since independence. In Nigeria, every leader or government is expected to satisfy the conditions of equality and equitable even when they do not conform to merit based choice, appointment or representation.

That need is in running an all inclusive, bipartisan or even non partisan administration that draws from the best talents of Nigeria at home and in The Diaspora.

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The urgent task before you sir, is to come up with a team that will assist you in running a transformational and transparent government. While I believe you must satisfy party and political interests, because, you were produced by a political party to contest the elections in the first instance, you must however balance the party interest with that of the more strategic and core public or national interest in your cabinet composition.

Sir, to beat or meet every expectation on all counts of human development, you must lead a government that is responsive, pragmatic, strong and uncompromising on policies and standards that will fastrack national transformation, yet realistic in not being blind or unmindful of policy landmines that could lead to frustration, disappointments or dissension in the land.

As Nigerians gave you a renewed mandate to lead the country for another four years, I think we should not congratulations you yet because of the heaviness and uncertainties of your tasks.

But I would rather pray for your success in the years ahead that you are able to discharge this challenging trust that Allah and the nation has burdened you with, that He strengthens you to meet the needs and expectations of all so that in 2023, bi idhni Allah when you complete this  second mandate, you will deserve not just our congratulations but our association and pride as a president, who served the nation with integrity and led her into  the light of enlightenment and development.

Again, I say not congratulations yet but my prayer is that Allah, in His infinite mercies, guides you in discharging a PUBLIC TRUST of visionary leadership in Nigeria. That trust is BUILDING A NEW NIGERIA FROM THE SCRATCH.

By Abdulwarees Solanke,  Director Media & Strategic Communications, Muslim Public Affairs Centre, Nigeria & Assistant Director, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development Department, Voice of Nigeria, Lagos Operations, Broadcasting House Ikoyi Lagos.
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