Re: Canonisation of el-Rufai at 60 by Idowu Akinlotan-A Rejoinder

Kaduna State Local Government Reform

“You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something.”
Winston Churchill

Idowu Akinlotan is a confirmed loathing hater of Nasir El-Rufai, an attribute that virtually every columnist or presenter working in the Bola Ahmed Tinubu media empire has in commonality. But the columnists of the various titles of The Nation are clearly the worse with their propensity to peddle utter falsehoods against Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State. The unprovoked malice towards El-Rufai, by The Nation newspapers, will expectedly get worse and more reckless by 2021 when political activities are expected to heat up. This is understandable considering that the stakes are high and the fact that the Nigerian Press Council, the body set up to check the kind of recklessness by The Nation newspapers hasn’t lived up to expectations of stakeholders, like the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission(NBC) which has considerably curbed the rascality of the electronic arm of the Bola Tinubu media empire. So while the television(TVC) presenters are slightly more restrained in their attacks on the person of El-Rufai, the three newspaper titles are increasingly by day more reckless, vicious and relentless in their blistering attacks.

Bola Tinubu’s media empire has consistently waged a concerted media war against El – Rufai, whose only crime is the perception that he is a stumbling block to the presidential ambition of Bola Ahmed Tinubu their mentor. Of the lot, Idowu Akinlotan is apparently the most notorious with several anti-El-Rufai articles to his credit and certainly deserves the “Defender of Asiwaju Award”. There is “The Waspish El-Rufai”, “El-Rufai’s Political Gambit and Kajuru killings”, El-Rufai’s Hate Speech Signposts Danger” and “Who Will Rein in APC’s Little Tyrants” etc. The common thread in Akinlotan’s satanic write-ups which invariably informs his conclusions is El-Rufai’s defeat. In “ El- Rufai’s political gambit and Kajuru Killings” he not only called for the defeat of El-Rufai in the 2019 General Elections but that Kaduna voters deserve to have their heads examined if they ever made the mistake of returning him to power. Hear him: “If he is returned to office on March 9, Kaduna State will have indicated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are inspired by values that leave a majority of Nigerians befuddled.” The Nigerians that were befuddled were certainly the members of the Bola Tinubu political family, who had sponsored the likes of Shehu Sani to ensure the actualization of that wish.

The other columnists of The Nation newspapers who have used and continue to use El-Rufai to prove their unalloyed loyalty to the ultimate godfather -Bola Ahmed – are Festus Eriye(El-Rufai the godfather Slayer”) Segun Ayobolu(El-Rufai’s thoughts and non – thoughts on godfatherism”) and Sam Omatseye(A Divider In Chief Of KadunaPolitics – El Rufai double talk”), but Akinlotan is certainly in a class of his own and deserves commendation for admitting that the acerbic articles by him and his other colleagues are their corporate reaction to “Nasir El Rufai’s inflammatory remarks against the Bola Ahmed Tinubu”, especially his manuscript on how godfathers can be defeated.

Though the template for the defeat of godfathers was not directed at Tinubu, so how members of his political family concluded that because El-Rufai delivered the speech in the godfathers’ backyard, that it was targeted at Tinubu. Unknown to The Nation columnists and reporters is that by fighting real and imaginary battles of their master Tinubu, they have not only disabused the common assumption that the media can be neutral but have confirmed that serving the public interest is most often secondary. As political activities heat up, the prayer of most politicians is that The Nation columnists should continue to burn the bridges that Tinubu needs if he is to actualize his ambition, so that by 2022 he would have further ostracized a substantial number of party members who in the first place have problems with his leadership style.

The irony of Re: Canonisation of el-Rufai at 60 by Idowu Akinlotan is that while
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the ultimate godfather of Lagos State and the man whose determination to succeed Muhammadu Buhari wrote a beautiful birthday tribute to congratulate El-Rufai on his 60th birthday, the likes of Akinlotan were left with the task of viciously savaging him. As the popular saying goes, don’t fear the enemy that attacks you, but the fake friend that hugs you- who the cap fits, let him wear it. The motive behind the strident attacks on El- Rufai is the 2023 presidential election, which is in spite of his unequivocal support for a Southern president after eight (8) years of Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu has not hidden his “ambitious desire” to contest and to wage a war against anyone that he perceives to be an obstacle. It is obvious that the unrelenting attack by the Tinubu political camp is a product of fear that some “certain” political realities might make El-Rufai run.

The root of the problem The Nation newspaper columnists have with El-Rufai which they have bluntly refused to disclose to their readers is the refusal of El-Rufai to endorse the presidential aspirations of Bola Tinubu. And most unfortunate is their refusal to accept that endorsing or refusing to endorse Tinubu is well within El-Rufai’s fundamental rights. The apparent lack of political awareness explains the resort to intimidation, rather than marketing Tinubu, a strategy that is not only dumb but counterproductive as they ought to know that El-Rufai is definitely not the kind of person that orchestrated and vexatious articles would browbeat into submission. So rather than intimidate El-Rufai, their attacks have further widened the political differences between both men. It’s a shame that The Nation columnists have by their apparent lack of strategy caused Tinubu the support of El-Rufai -a man whose word is his bond, who when the chips are down, can be counted upon to stand up for what he believes is right.

In his opening paragraph, Akinlotan made many fallacious statements that he never bothered to back up with any concrete evidence, rather he passed on his very subjective views on El- Rufai as being commonly held by a reasonable number of people, while in actual fact they are Akinlotan’s opinion or at best that of the Tinubu political family. Facts, as we know, are indisputable truths, while opinions are someone’s perspective or judgment(s). For instance, Akinlotan’s opinion that a cake tastes delicious might not be shared by many other people, which is why his unsubstantiated statements about El-Rufai products of deep hatred should be ignored. If Akinlotan is serious in validating those warped opinions, he should conduct a national survey on El-Rufai and he will most certainly be shocked by the results of the survey like he was at the caliber of men and women that honoured him on his birthday, which in the first place provoked this hate-filled article, maybe then and only then will Akinlotan stop making his spurious statements like El-Rufai “being positively controversial” or that at “60 years of age, he has done supremely well for himself, to the envy of his considerably more gifted, less controversial and even-tempered contemporaries”. Like Nigerians would say this clearly is original black belle! Akinlotan should have told his readers how this is El-Rufai’s problem- if those more gifted than him are less successful. Doesn’t this say something about him considering that he is a true rag to riches story?

Akinlotan asserts as usual without any evidence, that “Of all the country’s governors, it is doubtful whether any of them has become a cynosure of attention like him(El-Rufai), not even the daring and confrontational Godwin Obaseki of Edo State”. Of course, the answer is obviously because El-Rufai took many daring decisions, what political analysts call Second Term decisions in his First Term, due to his deep convictions. And in taking what were analysts described as very “unpopular” decisions El- Rufai made the point that deceit should not be the hallmark of governance, and his refusal to toe the line of other governors who postponed crucial decisions to their second term for electoral purposes. Once convinced that the educational sector needed to be revamped, El-Rufai embarked on the reform of the sector – from the rehabilitation of schools to engagement of competent teachers- which culminated in the disengagement of over 20,000 unqualified teachers. So why won’t El-Rufai be the cynosure of attention, especially when many thought he was foolhardy?

Hear Akinlotan” He(El- Rufai) has a little more than three years to go in the office, and is ambitious to climb even higher, perhaps up to the presidency. Trust him, therefore, to engage in more histrionics in the years ahead, hug controversy like a bear, say many brash and provocative things, and engage in much more risky and outlandish behaviour.” The question is when has it become a crime for a man to be ambitious because a man without ambition is like a bird flying without direction? By the way, the point must be made that El- Rufai by every yardstick is eminently qualified to be the president of Nigeria- not only because he has no certificate issues, but because he has shown the capacity and competence to lead – from his days at the Bureau for Public Enterprises(BPE) to his present assignment as governor of Kaduna State- he has always delivered. The intention of Akinlotan to “evilize” ambition, to condemn El- Rufai just to pave way for his master Tinubu is cheap blackmail that will work with others, but not with El-Rufai. There would have been a problem with El-Rufai’s ambition were it to be by an unconstitutional means, but since that isn’t the case, whenever he so wishes he has the right to throw his cap into the ring.

The problem with the Akinlotans’ of this world is their propensity to judge people by their own very low standards, which is why Akinlotan would question every El-Rufai’s judgment, question his motive(his statement that power should shift) and doubt his democratic credentials. Hear Akinlotan: “When he and his aides are able to manage it, they must decide whether his behaviour and statements do not impel them to take in good faith the criticisms of his fervent opponents as well as lap up the praises of his countless admirers”. The fact whether Akinlotan likes it or not is that El-Rufai has a better record than Tinubu their godfather who notoriously had a cantankerous relationship with his deputy governors and supporters. Akinlotan’s hatred is obvious and it is the reason why he kept reaching the conclusions he reached. For instance, Akinlotan doesn’t believe that the praises heaped on El-Rufai on his 60th birthday were genuine, so he goes on to wickedly aver that it was to save themselves from El-Rufai’s “waspish tongue”. And that El-Rufai sees every attack as an attempt to deny “him the chance to run for the presidency”, if only Akinlotan knows that El- Rufai is not inordinately ambitious and were it not for Buhari he would have been in school full time….he was a reluctant candidate.

Akinlotan made several false statements, but the most laughable of them all which also shows the length that Akinlotan would go to hound him is that El-Rufai “carefully screened out his critics from his birthday celebrations, but those who felicitated with him in person or on newspaper advertisement pages knew it would be impolite to seize that fleeting birthday moment to excoriate his failings.” The first point of correction is that no deliberate effort was made to screen out any perceived enemy because enemies don’t exist in El-Rufai’s world. Even Adams Oshiomhole the embattled chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC), with whom El- Rufai had some minor disagreements over Adams’ attempt to subvert the will of the people was welcomed with open arms. Nor was anyone encouraged or forced to say kind words which they know that El-Rufai who sees things in white and black would never condescend to, in other to make them feel good. So if Akinlotan is telling us that his master Tinubu engaged in sycophancy, by paying glowing tributes to El-Rufai which he didn’t mean, then good luck to him and his ilks.

There is absolutely no doubt that Akinlotan’s grouse with El- Rufai is the remote possibility that he might run, probably because Akinlotan knows what other lesser mortals don’t know. Are the marabouts telling them that El-Rufai in spite of his lack of interest will be prevailed upon to run? Because only such assurances by marabouts can explain the persistence with which they have tried to make it an issue. That El-Rufai is unsuitable for the presidency is a view shared within the very narrow inconsequential group Tinubu political family. If El-Rufai does decide to run it’s the party members who would decide his fate and if he emerges the party flag bearer Nigerians would determine his unsuitability or otherwise and not Akinlotan- one of the over 6 million voters registered in Lagos State, who hardly go out to vote.

There is no denying the fact that Akinlotan’s problem is the fact that the El-Rufai that he hates so much enjoys tremendous goodwill from all walks of life, which explains his bile-filled outbursts. Hear Akinlotan: “If these newspaper advertisements ran the gamut of hypocrisy and tendentiousness, words are inadequate to describe the rhapsodies that lathered the packed hall in Kaduna where Mallam el-Rufai was serenaded to bursting point”. Akinlotan can’t live down the fact that the likes of John Oyegun,the former National Chairman of the APC, the Oni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi etc had very kind words about a man he hates with deep passion. Worse still was the Oni urging him to “continue to beat the positive drum for Nigeria”, which was like pouring petrol on Akinlotan’s burning fire. It’s not surprising that Akinlotan had very negative comments for the Oni and Oyegun who dared root for an El-Rufai presidency. Not even President Buhari escaped the tongue lashing of Akinlotan for acknowledging El- Rufai’s “service to Nigeria and mankind which marks him out as an outstanding public servant”

Hear Akinlotan:”It is hard to tell whether Mallam el-Rufai is in reality the person being lauded so magnificently, or whether it is the Mallam el-Rufai of their imagination, the one they hoped he would become sometime in the future if he was not already past the age of moderation and amelioration.” It’s obvious Akinlotan would have preferred that Adams Oshiomhole boycotted the birthday celebration because of the minor spat with El- Rufai over his attempt to award Shehu Sani an automatic ticket. It’s to the credit of both men that they have moved on after their skirmishes. While Akinlotan would in his characteristic manner want to make enemies for Adams like they keep making for Tinubu,the truth is that Adams knows his enemies and knows for a fact that had El-Rufai lent support to those who have been plotting his exist,he would have been history.

Akinlotan is certainly right that “At 60, Mallam el-Rufai cannot and will not change. Age has nothing to do with his style, his person, or his politics.” Why should he change- the question is changed to what and to what end? By change is Akinlotan urging El-Rufai to abandon his principles and convictions?

Post Script: Akinlotan like William Barr the Attorney General of the United States fudges the truth.

Leave a Comment

The News Chronicle