When ‘open’ letter-writer and ‘letter-receiver’ met in Addis Ababa

former President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Muhammadu Buhari at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Photo: Twitter/mbuhari

Dear brethren, it appears as if quite a large number of my compatriots apparently still do not understand who the politician is. A larger majority among our brethren appear incapable of reading beyond textual politics. We always work with the assumption that the fish inside the ocean could stop drinking water; that a politician whose two feet are firmly grounded in the political space can indeed quit politics. Brethren, I know this for a fact that no Prophet of God would be invested with the scripture except his moral currency is as strong as the divine message he brings. I continue to wonder when we argue that as far as politics is concerned the message is more important than the messenger.

Brethren, for those who know, the scene featuring President Buhari and former President Obasanjo exchanging banters in an event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a  couple of days ago after the latter “letter-bombed” the former should not elicit a surprise. For many reasons. One, both Presidents, the present and the former, are comrades in more ways than one. Both have had the uncommon privilege of eating the forbidden ‘fruits’ twice. In a nation populated by close to two hundred million, to be given the honour and granted the glory of governing a nation twice is like dying experiencing resurrection once again.

Second, and following from the above, the former President and the current one have both had probably the best opportunities this nation has ever given to any of its citizens. They have received the best training this nation could offer his citizen; they have had the uncommon privilege of presiding over the destiny of the citizenry    If you wonder what that could be, wait till you become the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Watching both Presidents laugh and merry together in Addis Ababa that day did not surprise me at all. In fact, both the letter-writer and the letter-receiver must have ‘forgotten’ exactly what it was that the letter was meant to be. The letter-receiver, on the other hand would probably have “kept” the letter in the ‘open’, after all open letters, by their name and nomenclature, are meant to be in the open, read in the open and ‘kept’ in the open.

But given his antecedents, our highly esteemed letter-writer probably wrote the piece, in his usual characteristic manner, to act and posture as the conscience of the nation. Or was it a decoy to emerge as the new hero in town? He could equally have written that letter to engage in practical politics. Practical politics are meant to do one thing, not two.  It is meant to, according to Menchen, “keep the populace alarmed so that they begin to clamor to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”.

In other words, the open-letter written by first letter-writer of his nation to the latest receiver of such letters was not meant to do what it was not meant to do- create enmity between the two former military men and liquidate the spatial spectrum of friendship and espirit de corps that had existed between the two for many years. Both the former and present Presidents are simply too close for an open-letter written by the former to undo that relationship with the latter.

It is within the above discourse that this sermon derives its inspiration. When I beheld the site of the two Presidents on the television, I then remembered the sights and scenes I have watched before when previously sworn enemies in the political space became close friends due to political necessity. Less than a decade ago, a certain leader of opposition had a close confidant as a popular leader of opposition. It was during the period in which the governorship candidate of that party was in the court trying to reclaim his stolen mandate that the leader of opposition was assassinated supposedly by the party in power. Alhaji X was gunned down in defense of the ideals of democracy. Eventually the party in opposition won the case in court and the candidate who challenged the electoral process in court was returned as governor.

But the story did not end there. A couple of years thereafter when the then new governor was in town campaigning for the second term, the former governor who was defeated by the opposition party quickly cross-carpeted. He thereafter went on to work for the then new incumbent so that he could win re-election. Eventually he did; the governor was re-elected. By that masterful stroke in party politics, one which abhors integrity, morality and dignity, one which glories in the identification of where the honey is and the quick exploration of same, the former leader of opposition became, once again, a leader in the ruling party. Nobody remembers those who died in order to secure the mandate eight years. In other words, while he laid in silence all alone in his grave, his friend on whose behalf he ‘kissed’ death and violently too, would be completing his tenure as a two-term governor of that state this year.

Brethren, once again, the political turf is beginning to witness alignments and re-alignments. Once again, those who came together to bring this nation to the abyss of infamy and under-development have started posturing as the only messiah that Nigeria needs. But if you ask me how did we get here, I would say: ask the only stream in the village why is it that it is infested with crocodiles.
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