Nasir El Rufai’s penchant for reputation damaging is almost pathological. Why does he do it? He is brilliant and smart. …I appreciated his brilliance and acknowledged his weaknesses; the worst being his inability to be loyal to any person or issue for long….” – Olusegun Obasanjo in “My Watch.”
On 15 November 2016, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai penned an op-ed titled “Atiku Haunted By His Corruption Demons.” His piece was triggered by an interview the former Vice President granted an Economic And Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) tabloid called Zero Tolerance. Atiku’s articulate and informative interview and El-Rufai’s rambling article attracted wide coverage from the old and new media. And there are early indications that many public affairs commentators and politicians are already running commentaries on this push and pull between a political heavyweight and a welterweight.
What really aroused the beast of anger and sudden reaction from Governor El-Rufai? Deploying inductive and deductive reasoning, and reading some thin lines in between his razzmatazz, there is much to believe that Vice President Atiku’s assertion that El-Rufai offered him shares of TRANSCORP and his refusal of the offer based on moral and legal grounds engineered his incoherent and insincere write-up. If El-Rufai feels Atiku’s claims were not a true reflection of what transpired when he was the Czar Bureau For Public Enterprise (BPE), one expected an easy-going and decent rebuttal of that singular issue. But El-Rufai is not that type of character! He is one of a kind.
Because of his extravagant quantum of mischief, El-Rufai diverted attention to mundane matters that have either been settled through answers provided in the interview or not truthful. Hear the Blackmailer-in-Chief: “…Alhaji Atiku should tell a better tale of why he is avoiding the United States of America.” Had he not taken his hatred for Atiku to the extreme, El-Rufai would have seen that Atiku said he visited the U.S. twice after leaving office. He paraded a vivid account of what El-Rufai thinks was behind his so-called avoiding of the U.S. It is an incontestable fact that Atiku has never been indicted by any U.S. institution let alone declare him persona non grata or placed on a wanted list.
Still on the U.S. visitation, El-Rufai merely held a self-looking glass, as he is the one that has been avoiding the U.S. In recent times, he has declined invitations to be amongst President Buhari’s entourage when the president paid a state visit to the U.S. He instead sent his Deputy Governor Arc. Barnabas Yusuf Bala to represent him. In October 2016, all the northern governors were invited to the U.S. by a U.S.-based NGO and a public institution. Like the first invite, El-Rufai dodged it and sent his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Muyiwa Adeleke, to represent him. If one connects the dots and infers to many reports that are saying his Acting Chief of Staff, Jimi Lawal, and his economic hit man is a wanted man in the U.S., it is clear that there are elements of truth that the U.S. government has placed him on the list of people they want to nip if they dare travel to their shores.
Mr. El-Rufai tried painting Atiku’s clear refusal as a tissue of lies bandied in his now infamous book titled “Accidental Public Servant” as admittance of his fictional parade of events. In the contemporary history of Nigeria, no book has ever been challenged like “Accidental Public Servant.” It is on record that every major persona mentioned wrote a rebuttal, including Malam Nuhu Ribadu, El-Rufai’s co-conspirator. In fact, Professor Charles Soludo wrote op-ed in Thisday Newspapers for weeks. Maybe El-Rufai expected Atiku to descend low and join issues with him, but he got it twisted because they are not in the same league. So, Atiku cannot give a political neophyte-cum-attention seeker a chance.
The pathological liar also piqued, “Alhaji Atiku is already running for 2019, and he thinks that he can make people like us collateral damage in his attempt to rejuvenate his image.” When it mattered most, Atiku was there, and his contributions to the 28 March 2016 electoral victory of President Buhari are unchallengeable. His kind contributions played a remarkable role in facilitating effective logistics throughout the entire process that peaked with taking over the mantle of leadership on 29 May 2015.
Atiku has not officially declared his presidential aspirations for 2019, as he wanted his readers to believe. However, Mr. El-Rufai and his team of ungrateful elements and professional blackmailers must know and accept the fact that Atiku and all other Nigerians have the right to aspire to the highest political office in the land. Similarly, President Buhari has the right to seek for renewal of his mandate in 2019. Consequently, likening Atiku’s aspirations to political sabotage is petty and unattractive. Besides, why does El-Rufai single out Atiku and not other potential presidential aspirants?
Lest we forget, the same person who claims to love Mr. President spewed some of the most denigrating venom on him in 2010. Since joining active politics in 2001, nobody has uttered hurting and demeaning words on PMB like El-Rufai. He called him a “gerontocrat,” an intolerant fellow, and a man astronomically detached from the realities of the contemporary world. Because of political expedience and disappointed expectations, the same character turned his arsenal against President Goodluck Jonathan and changed his tune. It is clear that he is a fair weather persona that can dump everyone for political and economic aggrandizement. The quote in our opening segment has vindicated the widely accepted notion that he is a combustible, vacillating element.
In the process of throwing the kitchen sink on Atiku, the all talk but no action Governor of Kaduna State punched men and women of the Green and Red Chambers. “This obsession for power inclined him to support the rebellion against the party that manifested in the National Assembly,” El-Rufai said. Is he saying there is a rebellion in the National Assembly that only he and his cohorts are aware of? By inference, he is also piquing that honourable members and distinguished senators are rebels pulling the rugs under Mr. President’s feet. We all know that Mr. El-Rufai and his co-conspirators are yet to overcome the shock of their failure to infringe on the right of members of the National Assembly to decide who to lead them. He is also not happy of their quest to maintain their independence and critical stance on Mr. President’s foreign loans request and rejection of his ambassadorial nominees. These are normal routines expected of a branch of government that is made of peoples’ representatives. Since Mr. El-Rufai does not believe in the principle of separation of power and other democratic ethos, he chooses to see it as an act of rebellion. If that fits into his own parochialistic definition of rebellion, too bad.
Mr. El-Rufai has a mandate he received on 11 April 2016 when he was elected Governor of Kaduna State. He better invest his time and energy towards delivering his electoral promises. His four-year mandate is over eighteen months now. So far, he has not successfully flagged off or commissioned a single peoples-oriented project. He has been hyping his government through brazen propaganda and maintaining press visibility. But we all know that the moment of truth shall come and he will be placed on a performance scale to know whether he was a faithful servant or a betrayer of trust. And that will be a time for him to understand that he can run but he can’t hide.
As stated hereinbefore, Atiku is not in the same league as an unstable and divisive character like Mr. El-Rufai. And Atiku will not slip down the gutter and play his most cherished image denting game. Atiku has a vision and mission to accomplish in politics. He will never waste his precious and scarce time engaging a political waste products seeking for attention. Atiku knows that one will be delaying his journey if he decides to throw stones on every dog barking on his path.
John Danfulani, Ph.D., is a university lecturer at Kaduna State University and human rights activist. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.