El-Rufai's Grandstanding - By Obiora Chukwumba
There's so much of obsession with self in a recent piece by Nasir El-Rufai on ThisDay newspaper of Friday, June 17, 2011. The kind of obsession you find with individuals who harbour some exultant, evocative illusions of self. The experts call such the messianic complex. He wrote on 'The Death of Objectivity', an evident attempt to instruct members of the public on a resume which he strongly desires them to earnestly and persistently associate him with. This is on his own terms, not on any open, as he would claim, objective front, sadly. This resume seeks to present El-Rufai in the mould of some kind of rare species of courageous genius capable of some enormous public good that is outside the contemplation and visioning of everyone else.
Early in the piece he rues Nigeria's 'flawed democracy' and laments: 'It is so bad that all voices of objectivity and moderation have abandoned the public space and their views suppressed.' Read between the lines and you pick the messianic complex in question: 'All objective voices of moderation in the land, except I, El-Rufai, have abandoned the public space and this is because I refuse to be suppressed.' Incredible! And you ask if this man was writing of the Gestapo seasons of late General Sani Abacha or the darkly desperate years of General Ibrahim Babangida? Or is he by some retributive justice traumatised and haunted by the memory that a few years ago, he had thrown objectivity to the winds, having illegally invoked a non-existent power to wrest the official property of a sitting Vice President of the Federal Republic, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and proceeded to sell same to himself? What about the property of the former OMPADEC, now NDDC, that he sold off under completely questionable circumstances?
Nevertheless, craftily laced with this self exultant mission is what you may consider to be the high point of El-Rufai's writing. Seemingly desperate to paint Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan with an invidious brush, he takes the inglorious path of proclaiming divisions, exclusions, persecutions along imaginary ethnic and religious lines as the hallmark of today's Nigeria. You take care to seek out the evidence of these insinuations in the piece as a sign of his commitment to objectivity and you see none. Just winding generalizations and wild speculations such as: 'When people who know the truth or who have a view are not allowed to speak their minds simply because they are from a different part of the country or adhere to another religion, there is a risk that they may begin to speak only to others like themselves who share their views'
He goes on to carelessly drop samples of the fangled insinuations that are usually created to steam up ethnic tension. 'These views', he echoes without the decency of highlighting what the views are and whose they were, 'fuel the notion that some states in Nigeria are parasites on the rest, add no value, and question the carrying costs of our distorted federation!' If these were El-Rufai's personal interpretations of the age long agitations and advocacy in some parts of Nigeria for true federalism, resource control, and citizenship charter, he should come up clear rather than hide under anonymous attributions. Nigeria, irrespective of its imperfections, is stoically moving on. It shows in the difference that the people made with the last general elections. It shows in the people's daily sacrifices at the farms, in the markets, in schools and elsewhere.
Their enthusiasm may be challenged by the pockets of violence and terror that emerge as fruits of the daily energy invested by some power mongering individuals who trumpet divisions, who contrive exclusions, who threaten and preach anarchy but the people's confidence in a brilliant destiny of Nigeria where all have inviolate access to liberty, life and aspirations remain intact. That's what the school of thought represented by El-Rufai's grandstanding are fearful of. We are here dealing with a string of fellows who had been invested with power and leadership positions in Nigeria, agents of a stronghold whose grip on power in Nigeria, once the power of life and death is suddenly and mysteriously unravelling to its ultimate doom and shame. Which explains why you see the desperate efforts at stigmatizing the face and foundation of the emerging new Nigeria. It has to be a matter of life and death, don't forget.
In all these, El-Rufai's claim to a higher sense of objectivity is not given to any recall on the mess he left behind at the nation's premium telecommunications carrier, NITEL, through the dubious privatization award to a Dutch firm, Pentascope. An objective analysis of the real cost to Nigeria will include the incapacitation of NITEL, loss of jobs by Nigerians and the stultification that has denied that platform its contribution to national economic growth index in income and employment. Or would this objectivity explain that while ruling as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, he had the modest sense to sweep all of nine choice property allotments to members of his immediate family? The practice under his watch as minister in the FCT whereby demolished and recovered landed properties were being funnelled systematically to a company, System Properties Development Company, SPDC, officially owned by one Alhaji Idris Othman, a close ally of El-Rufai's does not convey objective assurances. His fairy jolly ride with Jimmy Lawal, head of the consulting firm that handled sales and disposition of landed properties at the FCT did not benefit Nigeria. Individual pockets were lined and Jimmy Lawal had to melt into thin air when enquiries began. These were not components of the resume of a prudent, wise counsellor that El-Rufai wants to sell to Nigerians. Let me recall the words of the House of Representative Committee that probed the sell of NITEL: 'The act of subterfuge and executive rascality perpetrated by the Director General of BPE, Mallam El-Rufai in positioning Pentascope to squander over N100 Billion of tax payers money should not be left unpunished.
The committee recommends that he should be banned from holding any public office and made to face the relevant laws.'
The words of the House Committee paint the true picture the El Rufais of this world. A "technocrat" who abused his office in the plain view of the world, hiring fresh graduates with whom he had prior connections and paying them wages permanent secretaries can only ogle at. As newly minted politicians, the El Rufais of this world perch on sanctimonious soap boxes; deliver elegant sermons. But beneath a thinning veneer you find people who are actually part of the problem, the true purveyors of the divisions and divisiveness they purport to rue in public. Fact: Was El Rufai's Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, not fingered in the roiling riots that overtook parts of the north( leading to the death of 10 innocent youth corpers) when President Jonathan was declared winner of the April 2011 presidential polls? So who is talking about the silencing of 'objective voices'.
Truth is people like El Rufai are those who seek to silence objectivity. They muzzle freedom of popular expression; rail against truth and objectivity.
They murder sleep, and then con the rest of us into believing otherwise!