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El-Rufai: Throwing stones in glass houses

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Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai PHOTO: TWITTER/GOVERNOR KADUNA

The unwarranted attack by the Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, against the person of former Governor of Anambra State and running mate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, has exposed the bigotry of El-Rufai which he is now shifting to Peter Obi. Nigerians should ignore a personal opinion that has no weight.

I tried to look up for the meaning of bigot for better understanding. According to the Encarta Dictionary, a bigot is “an intolerant person; somebody with strong opinion, especially in politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views.”

The synonyms for bigot according to Thesaurus are extremist, diehard, dogmatist, racist, hypocrite, chauvinist. How does Peter Obi fit into any of these unsavory epithets?

Anyone who knows Peter Obi, who has closely associated with him, knows that there is no basis, whatsoever, for branding an amiable, progressive and forward-looking Peter Obi as an “ethnic bigot”.

Peter Obi is the last person who at this stage in 21st century Nigeria, would be talking about ethnicity – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, etc, when the country is wallowing in despair and needs a redeemer.

If El-Rufai is the redeemer, why not present himself and allow the people to decide. Since leaving office, Peter Obi has been visiting schools in the north to offer support.

But writing in his Twitter, el-Rufai reportedly said: “Peter Obi is a tribal bigot. He was widely quoted on national television that the SSS was right to detain me for 48 hours in a hotel in 2014 on the grounds that he has no business being in Anambra as it is not Katsina State!” I sued the SSS and awarded N4 million damages.

While speaking during a youth programmes in Nnewi, Anambra State, Peter Obi said nothing warrants the statement from Governor El-Rufai. He said, “I believe that as we grow older and are saddled with more responsibilities, we are expected to become circumspect in our thinking and avoid recklessness in our speeches and utterances”.

“All I do for people like el-Rufai is to pray for them and encourage them to concentrate on doing those things that will better the lots of Nigerians rather than engage in hate speeches that will divide and destroy the country,” Obi posited.

It is clear from Peter Obi’s reaction that he is a peaceful man. For him to react softly without throwing invectives on El-Rufai betrays the charge of bigotry. Governor El-Rufai will be surprised at Obi’s candour and gentle mien, which contradicts his fire and brimstone disposition on perceived or imaginary enemies.

It baffles that Governor El-Rufai, whose Kaduna State is a boiling cauldron, a killing field, under his watch, as a result of bigotry, hatred and sheer extremism of people against one another based on ethnic and religious stereotypes, would ignore the log in his eyes to point accusing finger on Peter Obi, one of the finest citizens of this country, whose track record is acclaimed nationwide.

From the ashes of political brigandage, Peter Obi restored Anambra State to an enviable status. Today, Anambra is the most developed in the country outside Lagos. Majority of the people are comfortable.

El-Rufai’s grouse include his detention by the SSS in Awka and the alleged demolishing of mosques.

He said, as the Governor of Anambra State during the 2014 gubernatorial election in the state, Peter Obi said it was right for the SSS to detain him for 48 hours in Awka hotel. That was no detention. It was restriction.

Put in perspective, a crucial election was being held in Anambra State in 2014 to elect Peter Obi’s successor after eight-year term. Three parties, the ruling APGA, PDP and APC were slugging it out.

From nowhere El-Rufai surfaced in Awka! El-Rufai was the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Kaduna State. Why did he leave his state to go to Anambra? What else was his mission other than to interfere in the election in favour of APC?

As the sitting Governor, should Peter Obi have folded his arms and given him unrestricted freedom to accomplish his mission, which was to oust APGA? Can Peter Obi do the same thing in Kaduna State?

The SSS did its work by restricting him to his hotel and he shouldn’t have expected Peter Obi to applaud him. After all, it was not the Anambra State Police Command that restricted him.

Truth is that El-Rufai was at a wrong place at a wrong time. The treatment he got was expected personal; it had nothing to do with APC as a party. I am not sure that the APC sent him. And since he wasn’t an INEC official, he had no business in Anambra on that day as Governor Obi told him.

The alleged abuse of his freedom of movement was personal. Even his suing of the SSS and award of N4 million damages were private. It is, therefore, wrong for Governor El-Rufai to drag personal matter into a national discourse.

Concerning the alleged demolition of mosques and expulsion of Hausas, we are hearing this for the first time. In this information technology age where nothing is hidden anywhere in the world, such a thing couldn’t have happened without being on the Internet.

Three former police commissioners in Anambra State during the period have reportedly testified that there was nothing like that. I have also Googled the Internet for the same news without getting anything.

It is curious from where Governor El-Rufai manufacture the fake news? This is unexpected of a leader of his status who should be concerned with how to make peace and build bridges between our multicultural societies.

There is no doubt that the unprovoked and needless outburst of Governor El-Rufai portends innate bitterness and hatred, the type that he frequently visits on anyone he dislikes. Branding Peter Obi as a bigot is most uncharitable, especially, for a man who has shown deep commitment to the good of Nigeria through his laudable actions in public space.

If anything, Governor El-Rufai has not hidden his proclivity to bitterness. If there is any top government official who has used his position to destroy lives and upturned the fortunes of many, it is Governor El-Rufai.

As the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), El-Rufai was appointed to sanitise the city, which was a good thing. After doing that, he overstepped his bounds and went on a demolition spree of even approved structures the impact of which is telling on the owners of such buildings. The other day, he demolished a building belonging to a factional leader of the APC in Kaduna for no justifiable reason.

As the general election is around the corner, every patriotic Nigerian should be concerned with electing credible leaders. The Atiku/Obi team has been acclaimed as one that could turn things around based on their track record. Atiku is wise to have selected Peter Obi to complement him.

Rather than help search for the best for the country, it is wrong for Governor El-Rufai to begin to resurrect tragic ethnic passions that have not helped Nigeria.

Any attack on Peter Obi is an attack on Atiku and by extension an attack on Nigeria.


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