The Trials of Mallam Nassir El-Rufai

Nwachukwu Egbunike

 A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. – Joseph Hall

Mallam Nassir El-Rufai, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory was a recent guest of the State Security Service (SSS). Within minutes of his unsolicited ‘invitation’ the blogosphere buzzed with detailed tweets of his detention. While I empathise with the former minister on his ordeal, however I do not understand his cry of martyrdom.

Since it has become politically correct to make an open disclosure, I wish to state that I have no personal or professional connection with the PDP or the government of the day. Besides, I know that this post will draw the ire of many; nonetheless, every commentator runs that risk. For one, I ‘was’ once an admirer of Mr El-Rufai. In the days of the ‘cabal’ El-Rufai was the gadfly of late Yar’Adua’s administration. His work as Minister of the FCT stands the test of time, that no minister till date has supersede or replicated. However, the former minister’s silence during the post election violence in the North has diminished his moral authority. Mr Rufai has thus assumed the garment of a partisan politician and has such exhausted the neutral principal stand which he once enjoyed.

The ‘certified ruffle of feathers’ really caused some constipation with his two articles, ‘Jonathan’s Tough Choices’ and ‘What Nigerians Pay the FG’. Granted that a democracy needs a strong opposition but in my view El-Rufai’s CPC cannot fill that vacuum. For one, is that CPC has deepened the stereotype of they against us which is Nigeria’s greatest headache.

El-Rufai cannot therefore take a grandstand of the one who has done no evil. By the way, we have not forgotten that he was one of those who hoisted Yar’Adua and Goodluck on Nigeria. Though he recanted when he fell off the good books of the government, we cannot just forget that in a hurry or pretend that it never happened.

I am particularly perplexed that for one who allowed these words to flow from his pen: “But we all need to use a fresh lens when looking at Nigeria. Backroom deals in which political elites negotiate the fate of Nigeria’s 150 million people are a relic of the past – or they should be. The North-South power rotation, or ‘zoning’ arrangement, that pretends to offer stability to Nigeria’s ethnically diverse population has morphed into a convenient justification for self-centered politicians” has now assumed the same stance.

While no one can deny Mr El-Rufai his constitutional privilege of free speech, I think it’s high time to remind him that those who seek equity should do so with clean hands. Just a question: if El-Rufai’s CPC had been declared the winner of the presidential elections, would he mount the dais and trumpet to the world that the elections were neither free nor fair? I insist that Mr Rufai’s silence after the inferno that almost burnt down some parts of this country is his greatest undoing. It will take a lot of rebranding for our former minister to morph back to a statesman which he so much craves for. How does he convince us that his intentions are purely selfless and not spiced with the hues of selfish politics? The martyr’s chant of Mr Rufai is mere prattle.

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