Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai in September 2016 sent a powerful memo to President Muhammadu Buhari arguing that their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has made the situation in Nigeria worse than it met it by failing to be proactive in taking key decisions in a timely manner.
“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,” he said in the 30-page memo, which was a follow-up to an earlier one he sent to the president.
“Overall, the feeling even among our supporters today is that the APC government is not doing well,” he declared, before proceeding to an analysis of the key areas: Politics, National Economy and Governance, and then making suggestions for Mr. Buhari’s consideration and action.
Listing his reasons for the memo, he said, the final one was his opinion that President Buhari is Nigeria’s only hope now and in the medium term of saving the Nigerian nation from collapse, and enabling the north of Nigeria to regain its lost confidence, begin to be respected as a significant contributor, and not the parasite and problem of the Nigerian federation.
“Mr. President, it is also clear to many of us that have studied your political career, that so long as you remain in the political landscape, no Northerner will emerge successfully on the national scene,” Governor El-Rufai said. “All those wasting time, money and other resources to run in 2019 either do not realize this divinely-ordained situation or are merely destined to keep others employed and rich from electoral project doomed to certain failure.”
He noted that President Buhari’s relationship with the national leadership of the party, both the formal and informal, as well as with former Governors of ANPP and PDP which joined, and the ACN, is perceived by most observers to be at best frosty, as many of them are aggrieved due to what they consider to be total absence of consultations with them on the part of the president and of those he has assigned such duties.
Observing that that many not be Mr. Buhari’s intention or outlook, the governor affirmed that 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 the federal level,” he said.
“These politically-naive ‘advisers’ fail to realize 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,” he continued, adding that alienating the governors so clearly and deliberately ensures that you have near-zero support of the party structure at both national and state levels.
Advising the president that it is not too late to reverse the situation, El-Rufai told the president that he, however, appears to have neither a political adviser nor a minder of his politics.
“The two officials whose titles may enable them function as such generally alienate those that contributed to our success,” he declared, dismissing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as not only inexperienced in public service but lacking in humility, in addition to being 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,” El-Rufai said. “In summary, neither of them has the personality, experience, and the reach to manage your politics nationally or even regionally.
Among many others, the governor also noted that in this era of global interconnectedness, nations compete viciously in the economic arena – for a larger share of international trade, investments, maritime and aviation services, and a whole raft of knowledge-based services and industries. He noted that this competition is neither moral nor fair, even if the advanced nations pretend to present it as such to those that are gullible.
“No one cares about, or will ‘help’ us unless we get our act together and organize our political economy and national affairs to be regionally,” the governor said. He added that these troubling perceptions, whether accurate or not, must be addressed frontally by the president, and no other person.
To that end, he asked Mr. Buhari to consider communicating actively and directly with the Nigerian public about his vision – the government’s plans, strategy, and roadmap to take the country out of the current, dire economic situation, suggesting a five-year national development strategy and plan urgently.
“The President should speak to the nation – something akin to a State of the Union address on December 1 or January 1,” El-Rufai also said in the memo, dated September 22,2016, “preferably in a joint session of the National Assembly during which he will explain away some of the perceptions and lay out the national plans, strategies, and roadmap [contained in this memo].
He noted that the memo might be misunderstood, misinterpreted and even perverted, but said he was willing to accept the usual accusations of arrogance and ambition, adding that the President knows that none of those arguments hold water.
“I ran for state Governor because you directed me to do so,” he said. “From 2010 when we joined your team, I have no other interest other than your place in history as our President. I believe in your integrity, commitment and sense of duty to make our nation better. I am distressed that our government is seen not to be succeeding mostly due to the failures, lack of focus and selfishness of some you have entrusted to carry on and implement your vision. I am troubled that our own missteps have made the PDP and its apparatchiks so audacious and confident.”
Calling on the president to “act decisively,” and expressing the hope that his memo will “contribute in some way in regaining our governance momentum,” the governor told Mr. Buhari, “You have both a crisis and opportunity in your hands to turn around our country in the right direction. We pray that Allah gives you the strength and good fortune to succeed. This is an honest, frank and objective view of an admirer, a mentee, and a loyalist. I hope it helps, and I apologize if it displeases you. My duty to you is to tell you the truth as I see it. I have no interest other than the progress of our party, our president, our government, and our country.”
Full text of the memo, with annexes: