Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in the dock
BY UBAKA OKOFU
It’s not always true that most people who are not so gifted in height are bellicose or quick to anger. The axiom is also true that not all diminutive persons are cantankerous, arrogant and short-fused. So this is not to be read at that level.
In the character and mien of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state we are confronted with one whose body language, more than once, evinces what some have described as a seeming distain for Nigerians, especially for Christians that constitute a large percentage of the inhabitants of his own Southern Kaduna component of Kaduna State, if not for other non Muslims from the southern and Middle Belt states of Nigeria in general.
In my own reading, the self-styled due process governor is a heap of confusion himself! He feels he was elected governor of Kaduna state on account of being smart, and never as a privilege. Without taking away anything from this, I think Nasir El-Rufai does not deserve to have been elected as governor of Kaduna state. If anything, the ethnic and religious heterogeneities of the state are enough reasons to have ruled out a seeming one-faced ethnic and religious champion from contesting and winning the governorship seat of Kaduna state, and apparently the reason why that state had, and still suffers human and capital setbacks as a result of intermittent ethnic-religious crises there.
Like several other leaders in the current dispensation, El Rufai has about reached his wit’s end. The serial kidnapping of students in his state, and his failed strategies for fighting banditry on paper have clearly left El Rufai in the lurch. It’s imperative to note that El Rufai and several others like him were responsible for the woes of the current administration. His inflammatory remarks have contributed in no small measure in setting the present administration on a collision course with the people.
Not once, Nasir El-Rufai has shown in his utterances that he could fit in the mould of the unrepentant ethnic apologist. In 2019, Peter Obi, running mate to Atiku in the last presidential elections had to advise El-Rufai that Nigeria did not need violence of speech to solve her numerous problems, otherwise El-Rufai would have been made president of the country without him contesting or asking for it. One had expected that the Kaduna state governor would have counted his teeth with his tongue. But, he did not. Today, Kaduna state is a shadow of its former self as the situation has gone from what some have termed a seeming ethnic and religious pogrom of the people of Southern Kaduna to a near-complete breakdown of law and order in the state. Kaduna state is now a jungle of sorts where only the strong are untouched by bandits and cattle rustlers.
From the literal human wreck that is Kaduna today, one expects El Rufai to be circumspect, and concentrate more on restoring normalcy to the once stable and cosmopolitan Kaduna state. Rather, the governor has chosen to throw jabs at others in response to criticism of President Buhari’s governance challenges, especially the latter’s failure to arrest the multifaceted problems plaguing the country.
To be sure, Kaduna is not a core northern state. Hence, religious practices ought to have been moderate and not never to be taken to the extreme. This accounted for the conviviality of cosmopolitan Kaduna city. The coming of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has changed all that now. Particularly, the introduction of Sharia laws in the state. Frankly, the coming of El Rufai has left so much to be desired. The second reason is not unconnected with the above. The little tolerance muslims used to have for Christians has seemingly been withdrawn. Third, the state has been veering of recent into becoming an empire with an Emperor who cannot be questioned. Instead of fostering the peaceful coexistence of the several ethnic groups in the state, aspersion, balkanization and division may have unwittingly become the fulcrum of El Rufai’s administrative policies.
Sometime in 2016, El-Rufai reportedly told journalists how he made efforts in tracing Fulani militia to some neighbouring African countries in the Sahel region, and ensured they were well paid to stop killing the people of southern Kaduna.
The question is: how does one take a governor serious in view of the present killings in Kaduna if that same governor could do what he claimed he did to stop the killing of Christians in southern Kaduna. Yet, El Rufai has opted for commando tactics as the only option open to his administration in its bid to rescue kidnapped students of Federal College of Forestry, Kaduna from the grips of bandits?
It is painful to hear the same El Rufai chide Governor Ortom of Benue state on matters of insecurity in that state. Recently, El Rufai advised Governor Ortom not to use criticism of the Buhari’s administration as an escape route from the problem of insecurity in that state. It surprises one that El Rufai could attack Governor Ortom in such manner when in the actual sense, Kaduna state is not any better than Benue state in terms of recorded carnages from the activities of bandits and killer herders.
Apparently, Nasir El-Rufai has become quite notorious for offending the sensibilities of those from the southern and Middle Belt parts of the country. Christians in Kaduna state also have unsavoury tales to tell from what has come across as El-Rufai’s seemingly deep animosity for Nigerians who are neither Fulanis nor Muslims.
In what therefore comes across as a characteristic manner of making inflammatory statements, El-Rufai was also once quoted to have suggested that for every single Fulani man that is killed in Nigeria, retribution of sorts would likely follow, and that to him is justice. The circumstances under which at Fulani is killed does not matter to him. All that matters to El- Rufai is that a Fulani has been killed and the skies must drop! Very clearly, this is not good enough.
Gov. Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State