Governor Nasir El Rifai of Kaduna State is a man who cuddles controversy and dares where most men would hardly tread. But his recent assertion in a BBC Hausa service interview that the current security situation in the country is exaggerated and those making any issue of it are misguided, is patently unpatriotic and morally reprehensible for a leader of one of the state that has recorded the highest violent attacks.
Since his emergence into public life, first as Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, then as minister of the FCT both under former president Obasanjo government, and lately as governor in his second term, he has displayed the uncommon and uncanny courage to speak his mind when most men maintain cowardly silence.
This personality trait is desirable in leaders who should clearly stand for something on critical issues of governance. He has demonstrated that stature and size does not reflect capacity and intelligence. As DG of BPE, he stood against the politics behind the privatization programme of that administration with the conviction of an ideologue. As minister he practically took on powerful forces by demolishing illegal structures in a bid to restore the Abuja Master plan, which earned him unreserved recognitions.
Even as governor, he took on the powerful teachers’ union and the NLC in his quest to restore the integrity and dignity of the teaching profession to enhance the quality of education in the state. In fact he is the only known party chieftain to have personally written to President Buhari to complain of the disappointing performance of the government and how it would jeopardize their collective chances at the polls.
However, Mallam El Rufai seems to suffer the propensity to be extreme. A misused or uncontrolled virtue could easily become a vice. Since becoming Governor El Rufai appears to have lost his sense of balance and moderation, apparently drunken by the power he now wields as governor. His actions and utterances have not only been inflammatory and divisive but ethnically and religiously discriminatory and hegemonic.
This newspaper believes that El Rufai is an ambitious man, and there is nothing wrong with that. But pursuing any ambition on the altar of deceit and bigotry is unacceptable and indeed condemnable. El Rufai believes he is the anointed heir to this government and would do any- thing to defend the administration in spite of the public outcry over its undisguised failings. So for him to play down and in fact dismiss the prevailing inseurity is to disdain the feelings and interests of the people he presides over.
He once explained away indeed justified the killing of Youth Corpers during the 2015 elections as an act of God. Only recently, he came to Lagos to lecture us on how to retire god fathers in politics. El Rufai seems to have emerged as the provost marshal of this administration in its conquering bid for the crown jewel.
However, his position in the said interview contradicts the evidence on the ground provided by the IGP Adamu Ibahim who said that 1072 people were killed in Nigeria in the first quarter of 2019. If this figure is not alarming enough to El Rufai then he has lost every sense of human sympathy and compassion.
In this country today, insecurity is the number one concern of every Nigerian irrespective of tribe, religion and location. Nigeria in the past three years has become one killing field such that we are becoming inured to the fact. Before this administration, it used to be Boko Haram in the North East. However, they have been joined by the herdsmen who have taken the violent campaign of blood and death to every part of the country; and lately banditry in the northwest, where El Rufai hails from.
So for him to say that the challenge of insecurity is overstated is bewildering and confusing. Just this past week, before the inauguration, the 19 northern state governors had a meeting with President Buhari on how to tackle the present insecurity particularly in the northwest. Yet El Rufai had the effrontery and temerity to chastise those calling for concerted action to deal with the same situation as cry babies and mischief makers. Nothing can be as insensitive as this. It smacks of patronising arrogance and condescension which is characteristic of the attitude of this administration.
He cannot be said not to know what he is talking about; El Rufai is a cerebral intellectual and deeper thinker. Either would it be said that he was lying. In either case, his utterance is completely outrageous and unbecoming of a high state official. His attitude is instructive of the indifference and impervious approach of the Buhari government to the violence enveloping the nation. With all the killings going on government only rationalizes it as communal clashes between farmers and herdsmen; and retaliations for the killing of cattle.
Gov. El Rufai should be called to order and reminded to understand that power is transient and history will judge him by the actions of today. However, the challenge is who will bell the cat since he speaks for Buhari and his government. However, Nigerians have the responsibility to keep their eyes open and upon him because this is not the last we will hear of him. El Rufai has his eyes on bigger and higher public service and we should be ready to question him on his past conduct as governor when the time comes.