From an unusual quarter has come a warning that unless President Muhammadu Buhari does something urgent, the 18 months old All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government will not meet the aspiration of Nigerians.
In a damning and blunt letter to President Buhari, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Refai, pointedly suggested a surgical operation on the entire gamut of government, to avoid the APC government leaving Nigeria worse than it met it.
In the memo, dated September 22, 2016, but which went viral yesterday, El-Rufai, a dye-in-the-wool loyalist of Buhari, noted that his warning became necessary because his political future was intrinsically tied to that of Buhari, adding that, “poll after poll in Kaduna State, before and after the 2015 elections, clearly shows that my fate, politically and otherwise, is uncannily tied to yours. If you do well, I stand to benefit immensely. If you do not do well Sir, whatever I try to do in Kaduna matters little to my present and any future political trajectory.”
Ironically, most of the issues raised by El-Rufai, in his memo, were issues that have been raised before by notable Nigerians, including the President’s wife, Aishat and Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Specifically, the President’s wife had raised the alarm that her husband was not in charge, instead, persons who did not know how the elections were won and lost had taken control of government. Whereas Aisha did not mention names, El-Rufai was blunt, as he listed specifically, the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, as constituting a clog in the wheel of the progress of the APC-led administration.
“There is a perception that your ministers, some of whom are competent and willing to make real contributions, have no clear mandate, instructions and access to you. Ministers are constitutional creations, Mr. President, and it is an aberration that they are expected to report to the Chief of Staff on policy matters,” El-Rufai noted.
He also re-echoed the insinuation in some quarters that appointments into the Buhari’s government was lopsided, in favour a particular section of the country, saying: “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.”
He went further to say: “Mr. President, Sir, your relationship with the national leadership of the party, both the formal (NWC) and informal (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso), and former governors of ANPP, PDP (that joined us) and ACN, is perceived by most observers to be, at best, frosty. Many of them are aggrieved due to what they consider total absence of consultations with them on your part and those you have assigned such duties. This may not be your intention or outlook, but that is how it appears to those that watch from afar. This situation is compounded by the fact that some officials around you seem to believe and may have persuaded you that current APC State governors must have no say and must also be totally excluded from political consultations, key appointments and decision-making at federal level. These politically naive ‘advisers’ fail to realise that it is the current and former state governors that may, as members of NEC of the APC, serve as an alternative locus of power to check the excesses of the currently lopsided and, perhaps, ambivalent NWC. Alienating the governors, so clearly and deliberately, ensures that you have near-zero support of the party structure at both national and state levels.”
He said it was not too late to reverse the situation, stating: “You appear to have neither a political adviser nor a minder of your politics. The two officials whose titles may enable them function as such generally alienate those that contributed to our success. The SGF is not only inexperienced in public service, but is lacking in humility, insensitive and rude to virtually most of the party leaders, ministers and governors.
The chief of staff is totally clueless about the APC and its internal politics, at best, as he was neither part of its formation nor a participant in the primaries, campaign and elections. In summary, neither of them has the personality, experience and the reach to manage your politics nationally or even regionally.”
Explaining the implication of this, El-Rufai said: “Those of us that look forward to presenting you again to the electorate in 2019 are worried that we need to sort out the party’s membership register, review the primaries system to eliminate the impact of money in candidate selection, and reduce the reliance of the party on a few businessmen, a handful of major financiers and state governments for its operations and expenditures. A surgical operation is needed in party machinery, financing and electoral processes if the future political aspirations we desire for you will not be made more difficult, if not impossible, to actualise.”
Underlying need for cordial relationship with other arms of government, the Kaduna governor said: “ Mr. President, Sir, It is a constitutional reality that to succeed, the Federal Government must work harmoniously with two other arms of government; the National Assembly and the Judiciary.”
Assessing performance of the government, he said: “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 Boko Haram insurgency and corruption.”
Like most Nigerians, El-Rufai, also believed that, going forward, the president must get someone, with the technical-know-how to function as his Economic Adviser.
“Appoint a high profile Economic Adviser and constitute a two-level economic team – political level chaired by the VP and technical level consisting of key economic agency heads to do the more detailed technical analysis and present options for decision and action,” El-Rufai, noted.
He was, however, quick to note that, bad as the situation may be, it was not beyond redemption, saying that only the president could remedy the situation.
Hear him: “These troubling perceptions, whether accurate or not, must be addressed frontally by you, Mr. President, and no other person,” adding that the president has both a crisis and opportunity in his hands “to turn around our country in the right direction.”
He expressed hope that God gives Buhari the “strength and good fortune to succeed,” insisting that his letter was “an honest, frank and objective view of an admirer, a mentee, and a loyalist.”