Buhari’s unerring popularity was also tested to the core with the recent open letter from the renowned scholar, former navy captain and medical doctor Sheikh Ahmad Gummi, son of the most renowned Grand Khadi of the Northern Region Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gummi. Open-letters have surely being a norm during this democratic dispensation, adding a positive spin to our freedom of information in the country and proving a strong showing of our democracy. However, a large hullabaloo always follows almost every open letter by any renowned personality to most specifically our politicians.
Despite our orthodox political connections, if there is one thing Nigerians can submerse and tolerate, it might as well be anything that has religious affiliation. The backlash that Sheikh Gummi’s honest letter received however, was with baptism of fire, and served as an exception to the religious rule for one simple reason: it was perceived as a disregard and denigrating towards ‘The People’s General’ and it is only Muhammadu Buhari that would command such strict deference towards his personality and credibility without dotting a drop of his ink on a paper, nor without sending any PA or SA to do damage control. Such is Buhari’s over domineering awe, that it is improbable for one not to discuss the General’s ambition, without having to do so while treading on a steadfast path, because any iota of slight towards his personality will let the powder keg below to explode.
This is not a rejoinder to the Sheikh’s letter, never, nor is it an outright defense or cleansing of General Buhari, not by any means, but just an outright opinioned analysis of events on social media that followed that well-publicised letter. So what did Sheikh Gummi did, or say exactly to cause this uproar? Well, it was an honest attempt by a religious preacher, within every ounce of his right, to correct and guide his Muslim brother and one he has utmost respect for, towards certain peculiarities. Preaching on Public Avenue’s even on social media is what Gummi never shied from, and his reputation for doing the spectacular rather controversially has been duly noted, a distinct peculiarity from his father, who always leaned soft, but one thing they did have in common was leaning towards the common truth. It is worth noting that Sheikh Gummi Snr was one of Sardauna’s closest confidante and always advised the late premier on the right path no matter what the consequences might be, and most of the time the fiery Premier will be upset but in the long run would see the right of Gummi’s comment and would indeed ring him and apologise for his furious outburst. Gummi Snr, played his part in every regime up to the time of his death, in sound advisory notes to the generals and the civilians alike, but one thing he always avoided was a public rant. He famously never agreed to start radio broadcasts of his preaching till he believed the Muslim population were united enough to avoid unnecessary interpretation of his preaching in a medium where he would not have an avenue to explain himself further, and risk irking controversies. That was Gummi Jnr’s first startling spectacular.
Having noted in the opening paragraph of his letter, that he has access to the “Humble People’s General” personally, but was trying in his capacity as a religious scholar to also educate others through this simple honest means, shows one is not to blame the Sheikh as he was doing what he does best, to the General and to the society at large, offering guidance. But one peculiarity here is what the lessons are for other Nigerian’s of Buhari’s similarity to take from the open letter. Which other Nigerian in the current political climate is like the General? Which other Nigerian political aspirant has the soft heart of the general and an excessive overburden of getting rid of corruption like the general? As Mahmud Jega, on the issues around Buhari, asserted ‘Where can you find another Army General, a former State governor, former Federal minister and a former Head of State who on top of that has a reputation for firmness and incorruptibility?’ The answer is resounding, ‘it will take several generations to breed one!’ Hence the peculiarity of Gummi’s letter is most certainly driven to the people’s general alone, and a simple visit to the General’s residence by the learned Sheikh, which undeniably wouldn’t be denied, would have sufficed, and a more general preaching to us sinners on a public podium wouldn’t be bad afterwards, we do log onto Facebook more than Buhari after all.
Another striking issue is the timing of Gummi’s wall post. That this letter is just emanating after Buhari has already bought the whopping 27.5 million Naira APC Presidential form, underscores the impact it can have on Buhari jettisoning his presidential agenda. Maybe it would have been wise if Sheikh has sounded his warning drums much earlier than Buhari’s official declaration and most certainly before he had parted with what would take him albeit 23.5 months as President of this country to recoup back if he crosses the bridge and becomes a civilian president, because I really doubt if Oyegun and co. do refunds.
What endeared me more as I read this letter however was Gummi’s brutal honesty and utmost respect for the general, and the way he persistently addressed him as ‘Your Excellency’. Candid points were indeed raised by the learned Sheikh, who grew within the tribulations of Nigeria’s botched regimes and who has had scuffles of his own being a Muslim scholar around the world, and it is from those trials that he has learnt for the good, that “good intentions are never enough”. That was a Nigerian talking, a person who knows the handiwork of our upper class, not just an Islamic Scholar, and these are lessons our next President no matter whom should take to heart. Buhari’s good intention on his first coming as President surely weren’t enough, and his miscalculated ruling with an iron-grip were not giving the chance to succeed, by antagonists who will always exist in any dispensation.
It is really ironical, that today Buhari is considered too Islamic, but here is a man who yes, practiced his religion, but was never concerned about being in the forefront of any religious agenda. Buhari was an earthly, pious General with a good heart, but not the religious chauvinist he is portrayed as today, he was a military man, and Islam was never part of his propaganda, war against indiscipline was. It was of course the same General Buhari that prevented top Islamic clerics and Christian faithful from Pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem respectively, amongst whom were respected scholars like Sheikh Abubakar Gummi who had his passport also impounded, as part of the obsession with the moral cleansing of the General which Gummi Jnr constantly referred to in his letter, and one he should albeit have a firsthand knowledge of from his learned father. Buhari’s war did not segregate towards religious lines as we are made to believe, he was indeed infatuated with cleansing the gross indiscipline brought about by the civilian rule and not even religion would stand on his way. That is one thing Gummi’s open letter is afraid of, burying the coffin without the devil in it.
Gummi’s take on the age precedence was in no credence fair though. The General’s age has been a weapon that has been dangled at the electorate always. But if he is too weak because of his honesty, I doubt if age and comparison with the late Sardauna is another factor too. Sardauna was his own man, just as Muhammadu Buhari is his own person, if the Sardauna felt he had enough of the political atmosphere at his ripe 50s it doesn’t mean it should dictate Muhammadu Buhari’s decision, he should be allowed to adhere to what he believes in too, if he doesn’t think the time to retire is yet then so be it. But when do you actually retire actively from a struggle of emancipation and become a passive on-looker?
What is amazing however, is the Sheikh’s hypothesis, having admitted that the present administration has charged up the religious divide so incredibly well, and also the need as a priority for peace and stability to reign even for a few years before good governance comes into view, but yet coming up with an arbitrary unfathomable hypothesis, which I doubt is meant for next year’s general election. Indeed by no means will President Goodluck step aside for an Akpabio/Muazu/Ribadu/Shekarau potential combo in the PDP, and it is a highly improbable factor an Amaechi/Okorocha/Kwankwaso/Elrufai/Tambuwal combo might out sit President Jonathan, not impossible but highly improbable. So if to have peace and stability, this present administration has to be shelved, then surely we have to admit that the Buhari factor comes in handy as the only probable choice to oust the President together with more likely one of the Sheikh’s hypothetical combo in the APC, or the other option is to let President Jonathan finish another four year term of this transformational horror and instability for an upcoming fresh era of stability come 2019? I wonder if that’s the Sheikh’s conclusive rough mathematical calculation! 2015 is getting nearer though, and we are in the middle of the bridge and it is indeed tangling!