As the aspirants kick started campaigns in Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, former minister of FCT is one of those jostling for the gubernatorial seat in the state. And lately, coupled with his declaration, has been roving around the villages and towns in the state; seeking for votes of the “poor”, the poor he has no regards whatsoever, who once said Abuja was not meant for, and university education was not conceived mainly for them.
Interestingly, one would think that these poor people would easily forgive and let-off El-rufai‘s past scathing remarks against them because, as experience have shown, we Nigerians, generally we have a sieve-like memory, no matter how monstrous or sordid and despicable a someone’s past is when he was in the position of authority, if he seems to be publicly against that authority after falling apart, he will just become a hero to the masses not minding what causes that fall out between him and the government. I will cite a two shining examples here:
When former vice president Atiku Abubakar fell out with his principal on issues that had nothing to do with the Nigerian masses, but still he garnered sympathies across the breath and length of the country, especially among the masses despite that he was part and parcel of mis-governance etched on them. Also when Major Hamza Almustapha was recently acquitted from death sentence, after much horse-trading, he became a hero of sort. His calendars and posters soon suffused the streets and commercial cars across the north. Though the goodwill he enjoyed had since vanished the moment the real motive of his acquittal was discovered. So also Obasanjo’s famous letter to president Jonathan has now endears him to the people.
But El-rufai, who fell out with the federal authority since 2008, doesn’t seem to enjoy same now in Kaduna state. A mere mention of his name evokes unpleasant memories among the people he is seeking out now in Kaduna. Since when he declared to run for the state governorship, there has been, according to a simple survey, a steadily growing amount of misgivings about him, not only from the poor people in the state who represent over 70% of the electorates, and whose psyche had being etched with his infamous remarks that Abuja is not meant for them, and that they must not go the level of university education but rather polytechnics or others; or from the civil servants in the state whose apprehensions about the man has to do with their sense of camaraderie about the plights of those civil servants that were retrenched when he (El-rufai) midwifed the public service reforms of Obasanjo. Their fear now is that, should he become a governor, the same fate shall befall them. His growing unpopularity is surprisingly resonating across the party lines because both supporters of APC and PDP share a concordant view about him.
But My sense is that the general grudges of the whole lots of people in the state –civil servants, middle class, and enlightened ruralites about El-rufai is not so much about his active participation in the government from 2003-2007 and the role he played therein, where he and Ribadu became the Obasanjo’s “presidential hounds” that were used in browbeaten and suppressing anybody who differed with the paranoiac Obasanjo; and the manner in which he treated many eminent people, including how he rode roughshod over late Hon. Justice Bashir Sambo, whose family is very large in Kaduna and who felt that el-rufai technically caused the death of their father; and his destruction of worshiping institutions (mosques and churches) and other monuments of sentimental values which stirred hornet’s nest that lingers up till now. Though, as it may appear that all of these are tangential to some of the reasons for his unpopularity, as they are always a reference point whenever Elrufai’s name is whispered. Especially now that he has indicates his interest to contest, all those hodgepodges of the past are reechoing and revibrating in an amplifying manner and hardly his name would uttered without attaching a moniker to it thus “a demolition Man” or “Mr. Destructionist”.
For being conscious of the fact that the epithets with which he has been stereotyped with, are further depreciating his prospects, El-rufai, in his declaration speech made a forlorn attempt at assuaging the feelings of the electorates by saying that “for those worrying about the demolitions that took place in Abuja, let me assure our people that Kaduna and Abuja are completely different…”
But beyond the fact that all the above mentioned issues are some of the contributory factors of El-rufai’s unpopularity now, as they could well have been, there are two most important issues which the people in the state premised their misgivings about El-rufai. One has to do with his personal records, and two has to do with personal character. No doubt, in a democratic setting, these two things as we shall see later are not only the indices or calibrators that measure and determine an aspirant’s salability to the electorates but it also produces a standard touchstone upon which the electorates makes their choice. El-rufai’s record in relations to community service development is nil despite the fact he was educated in Zaria/Kaduna at no cost of his; and practiced for 15 years as Quantity Surveyor in the state, then became the DG of BPE, a Federal Minister of FCT; Secretary to National Council on Privatization cum de facto Vice President. But with (in) all these positions he have had held, one cannot pinpoint any single community development project undertook by El-rufai either in Zaria or in Kaduna even as a way of giving back the society as a token of appreciation for offering him not only free education, but with an unfettered access plus conducive environment to thrive. Also all these positions he had held, as powerful and influential as they are, el-rufai refused to influence any federal projects to be sighted in Zaria or Kaduna when he held sway. The least of which is the provision of job opportunities to the youths which he never did. In fact, one cannot pinpoint any individual who El-rufai lifted poverty from his/her shoulders despite the fact that he can do more than that. This is indisputablest!
However, El-rufai is not under any obligation to influence federal projects or help his community or any less privilege etc but our morality dictates so. And it is even the ethos of our 21st Century democracy where by the demands and expectations of the society from people like El-rufai that have multiple opportunities are high.
Another issue is his personal character which is even more important than the first issue because it makes or mars a person depending on how he is or how he use to behave. But without any scintilla intent of character assassination, I will say that El-rufai is an obstinate and highly intemperate person, with intransigence and unforgiving streak that he too boasts of severally in the media and explicates in his book, “the accidental public servant”. It is without question that El-rufai is endowed with a noblest gift of intellect- a first class student as an undergraduate, a best in the MBA class of 26 etcetera, but that has little or no bearing to being a good leader. In addition to being an intelligent, a good leader will be the one who is open-hearted, flexible, with humility and compassion. Perhaps that gift has been El-rufai’s Achilles heel, because many times people who come across him or who had an encounter with him use to lament that he is a stiff-necked and ill-tempered supercilious sort of person. A leader we want of course is the one who will lace his whole body with ears, who will listen to our opinions and welcome our criticisms and most of all someone who would be amenable to us. I wonder how one with such deportments would govern over 6 million people that have divergent views, dissimilar needs and temperament.
What I make in all of this is that, giving his demeanor as an ill-tempered and unforgiving person, should El-rufai become the governor, he would exhaust the better part of his tenure fighting a vengeance against those who, first, opposed his candidacy in his party, those delegates that didn’t vote for him and other social strata that he feels were a stumbling block in his campaign. Even the hapless electorates that innocently exercise their voting rights would not escape his wrath. Regardless of the zone they come from, either zone 1 or 2 or 3; their zone will not benefit from any project. And I think that is going to be a bad precedent and would have a deleterious effect to the state as the development would be but a one-sided or two-sided one as the case may be.
Thank God these all have now found actual expression in the people’s conscience, as whom they will give their vote as their governor.
Mukhtar Garba Maigamo, a public commentator,
is a Credit Officer in the Unity Bank Plc,
Kakuri Branch Kaduna. And can be reach firstname.lastname@example.org,
Mukhtar Garba Maigamo
Unity Bank Plc
Inuwa Abdulkadir Road Branch,