by Stanley Azuakola
The self-styled “ruffler of feathers”, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, is not giving up on his role as official thorn in the flesh of the Jonathan administration ever since his de-campment from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
And he draws headlines regularly because, unlike many opposition figures, he has made a name as someone who is articulate, familiar with the facts, if a little loose-lipped. And these traits were on display when El Rufai granted an interview to the Vanguard newspaper, published in the June 8 edition of the paper. Here are 7 takeaways from that interview:
- El-Rufai rates Jonathan and his administration as failures.
There’s really no surprise there. He screams it loud on Twitter, he underlines it in his columns and he refers constantly to it in his speeches. This interview was no different. Ok, it was a bit different –he put his criticism more creatively this time, actually “hailing” the administration because in his view, they have “delivered on insecurity, delivered on the insolvency of the federal government, they have delivered on the division in the country, they have delivered on depletion of social capital. I think they have delivered, but for themselves not for the Nigerian people.”
- El-Rufai rates House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal as well as ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo very highly.
His respect for Obasanjo, calling him a “very thoughtful and experienced person,” in the interview is expected and not new. That of Tambuwal however was surprising, especially as Tambuwal is of the PDP, a party El-Rufai loathes passionately. Asked about the National Assembly, he said the overall performance has been very disappointing, but that “under Tambuwal, the House of Representatives has become more reflective of the wishes of Nigerians than the Senate.”
- He is working very hard to distance himself from any badge of tribalism or religious chauvinism.
For some reason, you get a sense from the interview of a man working very hard to make sure that all Nigerians know this.
“I am not a Northerner, I am a Nigerian,” he said at one point. When you think of it, not a bad move, especially if he has any ambitions for higher office, considering that his party’s leader Muhammadu Buhari has consistently been painted as a sectional leader.
- El-Rufai is a politician.
This does not seem like a big revelation, but it’s important to emphasize it. The man is smart, he’s a technocrat, he’s … (Add whatever else you want,) then don’t forget to add that he is a politician too.
You see signs of that when he calls Jonathan’s votes in the last elections “fake,” but hails Buhari’s 12 million votes, even though there were also some issues with Buhari’s numbers too (like the high number of under-aged who voted for him) or when he tries to explain away CPC’s foibles by citing the party’s age (three years.)
- The opposition is a bit more serious this time
I had argued in a piece that the best time to start talking about 2015 is now, and if the recent meeting between Tinubu of the ACN and Buhari of the CPC (which also had El-Rufai in attendance) is anything to go by, then the opposition is doing just that. The fact that there are fewer leaks on the details of that meeting show the opposition is a bit more serious and more sincere than in the past. And El-Rufai didn’t say much on that either, only that “we are organizing.” I might be wrong on this.
- El-Rufai and some members of the opposition actually suspect that Jonathan or some in his administration is treasonous.
Asked about Boko Haram and the way forward, the ex-minister said this: “There are strong suspicions among us that the government is behind some of the violence including Boko Haram and the government has not done anything to apprehend some of those behind the violence.”
That’s an accusation of treason. It’s a serious one.