El-Rufai, Sanusi and ‘opportunism’

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna state, first burst into limelight during the Abubakar Abdusalam regime, but due to the short tenure of the “hand over” administration he didn’t quite register in the consciousness of Nigerians. But all that drastically changed during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration when as the Director-General Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), he was charged with driving the privatization programme of the Obasanjo administration, which he creditably delivered to the acclamation of Nigerians, except of course those that didn’t get to acquire any of the privatized companies and have continued to hold him responsible.

His appointment as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was to make him a household name due to the revolutionary policies he put in place and the vigorous implementation of the masterplan that had been bastardized and everyone thought irredeemable. These two appointments are the foundation that a well coordinated and persistent attacks on his person are built on. Thankfully, El-Rufai is perceptive enough to understand without any illusions whatsoever, that for a very long time to come those mischievously committed to this demonization project would not relent.

Everything El-Rufai does or refuses to do, says or refuses to say, would always attract attacks and be subjected to scrutiny. For instance, his statement that the presidency should move to the South in 2023 has been described as a dummy to take attention off him, while positioning himself to reap from the expected confusion due to disagreements between the South-east and South-west and within the South-west itself. The doubters say that in that climate of confusion, the more organized north will pick it and El-Rufai, having supported rotation, would bountifully reap. This is the conclusion of his attackers and explains why despite having thrown his full support behind power shift to the South, the attacks rather than abate have intensified,sponsored by those who see him as a threat to their 2023 inordinate ambition.

The opponents of El-Rufai deserve some praise for being always at alert to exploit situations towards accomplishing their objectives- the demonization of El-Rufai.

Once his friend and brother Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was deposed as the Emir of Kano on March 9, 2020, they lunched a blistering attack on El-Rufai as an opportunist for daring to stand by Sanusi, when the politically correct thing was for El-Rufai to join in Sanusi’s demonization or keep quiet about his plight. For refusing to trade his loyalty to a bosom friend, they tagged him an opportunist, without explaining how. The dictionary defines an opportunist as “a person who places expediency above principle” or “a person who dexterously and expediently changes or adopts opinions”, definitions that do not in any way match the essential El-Rufai. It’s obvious that his traducers lack an understanding of the word, both in its ordinary and deeper meaning. How on earth can standing by Sanusi, his friend and soulmate, by any stretch of imagination be labeled opportunistic. How on earth can El-Rufai standing by a long standing friend by considered unprincipled? They have also woefully failed to show how El-Rufai exploited the situation (deposition) to his own advantage? If El-Rufai had unscrupulously schemed to become the next Emir of Kano, then he would have stood condemned and the tag of opportunist would have been a fitting turban on his head. But it’s only in the blind world of haters would standing by a friend be labeled opportunistic, when in fact due to the poisoned political environment like ours, El-Rufai had everything to lose for standing by a man who was down. It’s the strength of El-Rufai’s character and steadfast loyalty that he dared the consequences that included threat to his person to stand by Sanusi. Like Woodrow Wilson argued “Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self sacrifice.” El-Rufai in visiting Sanusi at Awe, in spite of the plots to stop him and at great personal risks- the extra miles for friendship,confirms him as a loyal and steadfast person.

El- Rufai is a prolific writer and he would most definitely at the appropriate time reveal the behind the scene events between Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano state, and Sanusi on one hand and the intervention of eminent Nigerians, including governors under the auspices of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) on the other hand.

In Nigeria where intellectual laziness has become a chronic disease, it was a lot easier for commentators to conclude that the appointments offered Sanusi by El-Rufai as Vice Chairman of the Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA) and as the Chancellor of the Kaduna State University(KASU) were a manifestation of some 2023 war between him and Ganduje, who, in spite of all entreaties, had gone ahead to depose Sanusi. This most certainly is far from the truth like Muyiwa Adekeye, El-Rufai’s spokesman, eloquently postulated “leadership has an obligation to tap talent wherever it’s for the benefit of the state”, which precisely is what El-Rufai has done. Since his assumption of office in 2015, utilizing bundles of talent for the development of Kaduna state has been his trademark. Sanusi might have lost the throne which by the way has been terribly bastardized beyond recognition, but even those who conspired to kick him out know that he is an authentic international brand, that doesn’t need the throne to bestride the financial world, nor would his deposition diminish his contacts. Sanusi can now soar to heights that the throne had in fact inhibited.

From write ups, it’s obvious that some Nigerians most unfortunately don’t know Nasir El-Rufai, because clearly what they largely know about him are from tinted sources who have scores to settle. Many of them will find it impossible to believe that the man they demonize is not in anyway conceited, nor arrogant due to his intelligence and his several accomplishments. That El-Rufai is undoubtedly a good man, fiercely loyal to his friends, extremely patient but very blunt is not in question. The problem is that most El-Rufai haters don’t or refuse to see that very thin line between confidence and arrogance. And unknown to these bunch of haters, is the fact that their hate is an expression of their own vulnerability, considering that their hate is not built on any ideological differences, and that they lack any valid personal reasons other than shared hatred, because they have not met El-Rufai in person.

Clearly, the hatred for El-Rufai is motivated more by “new connections”, what scientists describe as “bonding power of hatred”, than any other motive. There is absolutely some truism in the cliche that “no bond is stronger than two people who hate the same person”. Thankfully, like the leader that he is, El-Rufai has continued to take in his stride the insults and the hatred because he understands that it is the price of leadership.

Ado writes from Kaduna

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