Letter to Acting President
Dear Mr. Acting President, I am writing to bring your attention to some soft issues that may become too hard to crack if they are not promptly addressed now. Although I had met you twice or so in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, my name may not specially ring with you outside the fact that you encounter me daily on the imprint of The Guardian. But I have always known you right from your days as attorney general of Lagos State, the richest state in Nigeria and according to some statistics, Africa’s fifth biggest economy.
You did extremely well in that previous assignment and I guess it was the reason your name propped up so irresistibly in the APC’s pre-election trade-offs to produce a candidate to stand with President Muhammadu Buhari in that election. From hindsight, you weren’t a bad choice and Nigerians have got Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the one also called Jagaban to thank for your ascendance to the throne. He single-handedly swung the variables that made you inevitable in the calculations. He did very well. Thank you very much Ashiwaju. May your reign as the Ashiwaju of national politics be long!
Now, to the main purpose of this letter. Sir, you know very well that nobody nominated you as acting presidential candidate, neither were you voted for in that capacity. You were vice presidential candidate and you duly came in at the end of the electoral processes as the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That has not substantially changed in spite of the circumstantial new description of Acting President. Why am I reiterating all of this? I just want you to be guided properly by the original template so that you will readily understand when people are leading you into temptation and for you to raise the red flag.
If others do not, I know enough to know that your ascendance is divine. I can say for sure also that you were too farfetched in the politics of the formation of the APC and subsequent allocation of privileges to earn the vice presidency. The Ashiwaju himself was around, hale and hearty, and not entirely disinterested, although he had to reinvest his own interest in you when things looked improbable with him. There was the other key investor called Rotimi Amaechi, who even stood a better chance than Ashiwaju if the preference of General Buhari were to be the only factor in picking the vice presidential candidate. But the Grace was all over you and you had literally come from nowhere to emerge champion without corresponding efforts. I really thank God for your life.
As I can see, God chose you to work for Nigerians not to play politics. In the first place, I cannot picture you playing politics because you are not so wired. You are wired to state it as it is. You are a professional; in fact, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), which does not come by fooling around and pledging loyalty to a political godfather. People are saying that the economy which had lain prostrate has been attempting to stand on its own since January 10. They associate the magic with your transition from Vice to Acting President.
Well, it might be true. It could also be a sheer coincidence that the so-called turn around occasioned by sustained recovery of the Naira and your peaceful missions to troubled spots nationwide, including the Niger Delta had been programmed to happen before your advent as Acting President. In fact, Mr. Babafemi Ojudu who advises President Buhari on political matters took good time to explain why you were not the subjective factor in the observable changes in the economy. He said your four or so weeks of acting could not have translated to instant magic if President Buhari had not used the last 20 months preparing the grounds for the miracle.
Ojudu needed to make this clarification because Nigerians, especially in the social and even the traditional media were making value judgments to the effect that you were better than your principal and that if you had been Acting instead of being Vice President since May 29, 2015, the story, overall, would have been significantly different. I can’t get the point Ojudu was trying to make though. You did not mount the podium to do that proclamation. Nigerians did.
So far, you have only tried to utilize, to the best of your ability, the power transmitted to you by President Buhari, who is currently in UK or some location outside Nigeria on extended medical vacation. Was Babafemi Ojodu saying in using the transmitted power to cause results, you should have also transmitted to the people that the power that was causing things to happen differently in Nigeria belonged not to you but that which had been transmitted to you by President Buhari and certified by the Senate?
Sir, you see, Nigerians are an impossible lot. You just have to be very careful. Some people want you to state categorically by whose authority you are doing wonders in six weeks. Buhari they know! But who is this Osinbajo? And so, instead of this silent manifestation that you have been doing, you should embark more on loud proclamation. Let me explain what I mean. For instance, I know in the quest for peace and national cohesion, your next port of call shall be the Southeast to speak peace to MASSOB and IPOB members. When you get there, stop talking as if you are an authority unto yourself. You are not because you are exercising transmitted power not original power. The Late Chief K.O Mbadiwe had described the vice presidency as a repeater station of a major station and of microscopic consequence. Although the majestic Mbadiwe didn’t envisage a situation of acting presidency, which is threatening to become a permanent feature in our operations, his theory on the power relations between the president and his deputy is still largely tenable. Sir, that is why some entrenched quarters are getting worried over your rising profile.
For effect, when you get to the Southeast, align your speech this way. “The President spoke to me this morning (assuming you arrive in the afternoon) and told me to tell you that the Igbos are a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project and the country cannot move forward without their fully coming on board…” and so on and so forth. By the way, why is the President not speaking to you as often as he does to Lai Mohammed, Femi Adesina and others? Or has he been talking and you are the one not relaying the conversation to Nigerians?
If it is, it isn’t a wise decision. What do people call you; acting president, right? I am a theatre artist and I can tell you for free that acting means physical, mental, emotional and psychological identification with the script character. In other words, while in this acting mode, the responsibility to maintain a consolidated personality is even higher. You must assume a stage personality that is completely different from your person, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Good actor projects not himself but his stage character. This is the point that Mr. Ojudu who momentarily assumed the role of artistic director of the Aso Rock theatre was trying to make.
Sir, I know asking you to act differently at this age and stage of your life when you didn’t study dramatic arts in school is very difficult. But that is the reality on ground. As acting president, you must stop the pretence and step squarely into character. Manifest Buhari not Osinbajo. The Good God Who has led you this far shall also see you through this tough acting lesson. If it is His will for you to continue the transition beyond acting to something else, nothing shall stop it. For now, stay with the script and act well. Care less about folks saying you are acting better than the original character. They don’t mean well. As a pastor, you should know when temptation is lurking. Thanks and may your acting be smooth.