Almost six years ago, I got a copy of Mallam Nassir El-Rufai’s book ‘Accidental Public Servant’ but I really have not read it, even now, beyond the extracts in the newspapers. However, watching him yesterday (29-06-17) on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’, discussing national issues, one may safely conclude that, there couldn’t have been a more apt description of the Kaduna Governor and former minister than being truly a mistake in public service.
Where statesmanship was called for, Nasir demonstrated crass opportunism; in place of nationalism, Rufai couldn’t rise above petty regional sentiments that betrayed the tribal reasons for his uninformed revulsion for the reports of the 2014 National Conference. He declared emphatically, in a manner larger than the position of a Governor, that his government and party would have nothing to do with the Confab because, according him, some stakeholders were not involved nor did the composition reflect the demographic realities of the country, an allusion to the national population fraud which he reckoned would have given his thoughts and co-travellers an unde advantage.
No one perhaps reminded him of the truth that the national question is about group self determination where every nationality is an equal factor in the negotiation. Before he makes the mistake again that APC was not part of the Confab, let him be reminded that all the APC state governments sent their 3 delegates each, Civil Society groups most of which members are APC members or sympathisers were there, same for many members among the ethnic nationality groups, former Governors, National Assembly, Labour, Youth organizations, market women, diaspora etc making an appeal to partisanship as reason for objecting to the reports so really cheap. In any case, the popular view of Nigerians today is that the 2014 Confab report is the template for our national engagement. If Mallam is in doubt, let him use his much vaunted influence in this government to convoke a referendum on its acceptance.
El-Rufai probably did not know that at the 2014 Confab, everyone of the over 600 resolutions was arrived at by consensus through hard debate, negotiations and not once by voting. Was Rufai unguarded or so full of himself at that interview that he was unconcerned with the illogicalities and contradictions in his virtuperations? In one breadth he condemned the Conference as unreflecting of the views of majority of Nigerians for excluding vital stakeholders but in another breadth he dismissed his fellow presidential aspirants supporting restructuring as political opportunists for seeking to take advantage of the popular platform of the restructuring campaigns.
To him, such supporters of restructuring, particularly from his geopolitical zone, must be irresponsible. To him, restructuring is not about the national question or the character of the state but not more than such trivial things as Buhari having many former governors as ministers who are thus able to appreciate the need to assist the states in mining solid minerals or conceding to the Kaduna government some federal roads within Kaduna city. Malllam El-Rufai was once quoted saying that any attack on a member of his ethnic group was an IOU that would certainly be paid no matter how long.
His statements and acts, since he became Governor, no doubt reflect this vengeful mindset. On the Kaduna crisis, he always referred whoever cared to listen to the Zango Kataff crisis about 30 years ago as the genesis of violence because he probably believed his tribe was more affected. In the Channels’ interview, and for effect, and certainly for Ndigbo, he reminded his audience that erosion of democracy and federalism began with General Agunyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree of 1966. My take is that, Nigeria will not break, will certainly succumb to restructuring along the lines and logic of federalism chosen by our heroes past as best suitable for the multinational and polyglot Nigerian state. Every present action or omission is an IOU, payment of which Nigerians will demand in due season. We are watching, the wait will not be long.