El-Rufai: A leopard cannot change its spots
By Balogun Akin Osuntokun
“He (Peter Obi) will sweep South Eastern States, he will do well in the South-South States, he will do good in the Christian enclaves in the North but how many are they….ethnicity and religious bigotry is what the Labour Party is about…where else, he is not doing well in the South-West other than a drop in the ocean of Lagos. Entire Anambra votes are only one local government in Kaduna. Peter Obi is Nollywood candidate”- Governor Nasir El-Rufai
If, as El-Rufai spitefully accepted and assuming but not conceding that Obi will sweep the South-East, and do good in the South-South and the Christian North, how then does such a political heavyweight qualify to be denigrated as Nollywood candidate? On the contrary, there is no Nigerian leader, dead or alive, who enjoys similar political dominance across the South and the Middle-Belt. I crave public indulgence and utmost reverence for their memory, but not Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello nor Awolowo enjoyed a comparable status.
It is ironical that a man who tags the Labour Party (Obi) with the tar brush of “ethnicity and religious bigotry” is the leading light if not the evil genius behind the weaponisation of religious cleavage indicated in the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of his political party. This has been the template he brought to Kaduna State politics. And he has a long tendentious history of this behaviour.
On January 28th, 2013, El-Rufai tweeted that “if Jesus criticises Jonathan’s government, Maku, Abati or Okupe will say that he slept with Mary Magdalene”.
On April 6, 2016, he said “Here in Kaduna we have a significant Muslim majority, 70 percent and 30 percent Christian minority” Recall how he similarly (at his latest outing) denigrated “Christian enclaves in the North but how many are they”? At the height of the devastation of Southern Kaduna by the Fulani militia, his arbitration was that “tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost”.
Another feather to his cap of unrestrained notoriety and bellicosity is not limited to Nigeria. Knowing fully well that a free, fair and credible election (and as attested by foreign observer teams), was not in the interest of his party in the 2019 general elections, he issued a threat to the latter on the eve of the elections. “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags”.
El Rufai enjoys the dubious distinction of duplicating the carnage and festival of bloodletting on Kaduna State what his principal has visited on the larger Nigeria community in the past seven years. This is a governor who should hourly beseech the mercy and forgiveness of God for the calamity he wreaked on a segment of Kaduna State populace. That such a mouthpiece of the disastrous stewardship of the APC should presume to pontificate and cast aspersions on someone with a vastly superior record of public service is the height of insolence and impunity.
It is in recent memory that El Rufai was one of the star proxies of their presidential candidate who couldn’t speak for himself at the Chatham house – to the humiliation and disgrace of Nigeria before a bewildered international community.
Between El-Rufai and the many independent polls that indicated Obi as the frontrunner, who should we believe? He really ought to be more concerned at the tragic roadshow the campaign of his party’s candidate has become. Of the present cast of presidential candidates, especially between Obi and his presidential candidate, who best personifies the Nollywood world of make-belief Where else but in movies would anyone speak in tongues of the blu blaba boo variety? Or remind us that contrary to street side common knowledge, Atiku Abubakar was indeed ‘Senate President’, not Vice President?
El-Rufai has become the classic pathetic case of hysterically pointing at an illusory speck in another man’s eyes while his eyesight is playing host to a conspicuous log. Though it is in character, it is nonetheless uncharitable of him to denigrate our Nollywood actors. They have contributed more to our nation’s greatness and promise than some politicians whose legacy is crisis, unnecessary controversies, and preachment of belligerent confrontation.
The good news of Obi’s emergence is that win or “lose “, he has fostered a seismic change in the political configuration and culture of Nigeria. It is the dawn in which El-Rufai and the retrogressive forces he represents are going to be on permanent disorderly retreat.
God does not start a project He cannot finish.
- Balogun Akin Osuntokun is DG, Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council.