DEAR SHEIKH GUNMI, YOU WERE WRONG -by Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu

Filed under: National Issues |

This letter is about the couple of letters you served on the presumptive Presidential nominees of Nigeria’s big political parties.

I couldn’t think of a better medium to reach you.

You believe in the power of letters to compel the addressee’s attention. You believed that President Jonathan would flip his eyes and concentration from the business of state to focus on your epistle if you wrote. And you believed that General Buhari would take a breather from his creditworthy campaign to read down to your last punctuation.

I am like-minded. And believe the same of you too. A man of letters, like you, would be willing to receive and read the selfsame gift from another.

In the two letters, you offered the hopefuls open counsel. You asked them to execute their ambition, to commit dream suicide.

And there were scarcely picturesque threats in tow. You laid out the grave cost of trivializing your advice.

And you made the incredible paragraph jump – asking them to surrender to your recommended favorites!

I’m sorry, Sheikh but you were wrong. You could have used an advisor before leaping to wreak unsolicited advice on them.

For starters, you wrote on the off chance that these candidates who have already laced their shoes will abandon their run and their fervent cheerleaders on your say-so.

Needless to say, your letter fell on stony ground.

You have obviously appointed yourself the charitable judge, passing life and death sentences on Presidential ambitions. You have calibrated your private standards for suitability. And when someone does not measured up to your reckoning, you send him a fiat.

You have made a good name, in the mosque and beyond, as a scholarly mind and an honest voice. You have largely used your clerical license well, dictating in points of faith. You would be right in the perimeters of your turf to pontificate on merits for admittance into Paradise.

But this role of examiner of presidential fitness you have invented for yourself – awarding marks at random, demoting and promoting – falls outside the purview of your calling. Indeed, it’s beyond anybody’s right to veto anybody’s ambition.

Nobody is under obligation to satisfy the romanticized criteria of your political orientation to be worthy of election.

Nobody needs to fit into your mental mould of a Presidential material to run for office. They are citizens. And that suffices. The constitution does require anyone to your court your likeness.

Election is an all-comers contest. It is a pageantry of variations. All people recognized by the laws of the land as capable of exercising agency may freely exercise their right to vote and to be voted for.

During campaigns, the candidates pitch their visions and their superior uniqueness. When there are many candidates, the electorate weighs up their clear distinctions and compares them. And when it is a fair and credible process, the eventual outcome favors the one who has made a better success of persuading more voters that he would provide them a higher life for their ballot gift.

This country of 170 million citizens will have a malnourished menu if the only people authorized to run for President are persons that appeal to your narrow fancy.

What justice is in trying to force your favorite food down other throats?

By the way, you had hinted that there would be crisis if they refused to bow to your letter. What prompted that futurist voyeurism? Did you have the ability to forecast post-election eclipse?

When you warned that violence would attend the contest as surely as cockcrow heralds the daybreak, did you suppose that a hybrid of advice and threat would be a more efficacious blackmail?

Were you indulging us advance snapshots from a script? Are you privy to any group that is gestating mayhem? Did you mean to ready us for a body count after the ballot count – so that, pretty soon, you will rejoice in the name of a prophet?

I am stupefied that you went out on a limb to guarantee that if the candidates you hate withdraw for the candidates you love, that there will be calm.

I’m sorry, Sheikh but the essence of elections is to provide equal opportunity for voters to express candidate preference. And you will get a chance on polls day like the rest of us.

I would suggest- if you receive advice as eagerly as you give it- that you launch an all-out campaign for your preferred runners instead of trying to hamstring others.

 

Twitter: @emmaugwutheman

 

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