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Ike's Column Opinion

El Rufai, ‘the Accidental Vice President’?

Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today

Mahatma Gandhi

The opening quote above of the great Indian Nationalist leader, Mahatma Ghandi opened the Chapter five of Governor Nasiru El Rufai’s 627-page book titled “The Accidental Public Servant” presented to the public in February 2013.

In the chapter five of the book, the author, El Rufai discuses power and titles it “You Will See the Meaning of Power” and opened the discourse with an old British joke featuring former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill where a woman was approached by a man at a cocktail party and asked if she will sleep with him for one million pounds.

“Perhaps, replied the woman coyly, but of course we would have to discuss the terms.” And another offer was made if she will sleep with him for one pound, to which she replied, “of course not, what sort of woman do you think I am” and the man said “we have already established what sort of woman you are. All we are doing now is negotiating.”

I read this voluminous book seven years ago in 2013 when it was launched. The hype the book generated made me rush the reading and I had to approach my library for it again last week after El Rufai’s curious statement denying his Presidential ambition in 2023 saying instead that the gentleman agreement of North/South power rotation should be respected after President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure. This is a positive departure from Mamman Daura’s selfish posture that zoning should be discarded and in its place, merit and competence be considered, leaving watchers to wonder if there is dearth of competent people in the area where it’s supposed to be zoned to.

From chapter one to 16, every conclusion of the book is tailored towards portraying Nasiru El Rufai as a wizard, a virtuoso specially made for this generation. There was no one he met as a public servant that he was not superior to, he was taller than anybody he met in ideas except in physical height that he acknowledged a shortcoming because it’s so apparent.

With him anything he is not involved in or be part of is not likely to witness a huge success. He came to public service accidentally and became a maven, a star of everything in governance to the extent that those on whose vehicle he drove into the arena became bad drivers.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar who brought him into limelight at the Bureau of Public Enterprises BPE where he shone and was recognized for FCT Ministerial job by Olusegun Obasanjo were all portrayed in negative light in the book.

President Umaru Yar Adua who knew him better and refused to do business with him was also run down alongside Goodluck Jonathan who also looked away on him.

On Yar Adua’s death when he saw the road closed on him in Jonathan he ran to Muhammadu Buhari that he had earlier lampooned from where they successfully schemed themselves into power. Even as a Governor he has been restless wanting to dictate what happens at the Presidency, sending memos and even eyeing strategic positions in the Presidency. The cabals knowing what he knows craftily blocked and incised his so-called wizardry contributions to the government.

It’s not unlikely that the recent selfish comment the cabal Chief, Mamman Daura made calling for the jettisoning of the power rotation may have prompted El Rufai’s sudden love for power going to the South.

But going by the El rufai we know his recent remarks on power rotation should not be viewed from the surface of it, negotiation for his next landing may have begun already.

He may have used his vantage position to know or see what others are yet to see and decides to open negotiation for his safe landing ahead of his rivals.

When somebody you don’t regard as a friend decides to give you a huge gift, weigh it coyly also like the lady in the story above when she was offered one million pounds for a sleep. While it looked unrealistic, the lady was not dismissive of it Perhaps! she said.

The people of the South should approach El Rufai’s statement on power returning to it with that suspicion while awaiting a follow up which is bound to come.

El Rufai may be diminutive and wee in seize but his ambition is not and this he has not hidden since he accidentally made his way into the nation’s public service. If he has been a Minister and a Governor what next, the Presidency. If he cannot get the President in 2023 he wants to be an accidental Vice President so that when the time comes and he is still, active, he would be the most experienced person around.

This man leaves every one clear about his ambition and how he is the best for every position. Even in Kaduna where his five year divisive and discordant reign has witnessed the worst bloodletting in the country, he still sees himself as the best Governor ever.

For his ambition El Rufai leaves every stone turned and takes every step toward achieving it. For instance, even though on this same political party, he cannot be on the same page with the likes of Bola Tinubu reason being that he has not got much to benefit from him now.

If power returns to South in 2023 Tinubu cannot be his buddy because as a fellow Muslim, he cannot run with him. He would rather do business with the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo even with his baggage, the Ekiti state Governor, Kayode Fayemi or Rotimi Amaechi all of whom are Christians and are politically convenient for his ambition.

At the moment he is lying in wait for which of the South the power would go. He is romancing with the people of the South West now but if the pendulum changes tomorrow and the cabals look at the South East he will locate a rusty friend there to eulogize for that purpose notwithstanding that his son possibly drawing from the sentiment at home recently abused Ndigbo in a tweet although he apologized after series of attacks from discerning minds.

The recent threat from former Enugu state Governor, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo and other Igbo leaders that the elites of the region might join the rebellious Nnamdi Kanu and his recalcitrant Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, to demand for Biafra if they are denied the Presidency in 2023 is not receiving the expected attacks from the likes of El Rufai because of the uncertainty of politics. Every gladiator is watching and waiting for the body language of the President to know how to act and which friend to pick.

However, given what former President Obasanjo who supervised El Rufai wrote of him in his book, “My Watch Vol.2″, anybody picking El Rufai for his running mate should be ready for the accompanying heat or the person should be ready to make him the de facto President to have peace and enjoy his tenure.

According to Obasanjo in the book pages 110 to 112, ‘Nasir’s penchant for reputation savaging is almost pathological. Why does he do it? He is brilliant and smart. I grant him that also. Very early in my interaction with him, I appreciated his talent and brilliance. At the same time, I recognized his weaknesses; the worst being his inability to be loyal to anybody or any issue consistently for long, but only to Nasir el-Rufai. He barefacedly lied which he did to me against his colleagues and so-called friends. I have heard of how he ruthlessly savaged the reputation of his uncle, a man who was like, in the African setting, his foster father. I shuddered when I heard the story of what he did to his half-brother in the Air force who is senior to him in age.”

A leader must know the character and ability of his subordinates. Character wise, Nasir has not much going for him. But he is a talented young man who can always deliver under close supervision.
So, as laudable as El rufai’s statement on power rotating to the South might be, Obasanjo’s deconstruction of him above should be enough caveat for all. El Rufai’s remarks should be viewed as coming from an ambitious accidental man whose gift could be akin to that of the Greeks usually given with the intention of tricking or causing harm to the recipient.

In dealing with El Rufai for political purposes, the South should therefore not be insensible of the story of the wooden horse of Troy, used by the Greeks to trick their way into the city. This story is recorded in the Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 2 in 19 BC saying ” Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts” A word is enough for the wise. God bless Nigeria.

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