By James Eze In his first and only visit to West Africa in 2009, Barrack Obama, former president of the United States, left African leaders with an enduring chastisement. After taking a swipe at the continent for strong men who often allowed their bloated egos to plunge their countries into wars and afflictions, President Obama…
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has just cried out. He came close to a lamentation. Or so it appears. But those who know him are not taken in by the antic. They know that a smart Alec is at work. The Kaduna governor is never known to be quiet. He does not seem to have any humility in him. He is showy and conceited. That is why he has broken loose so soon.
Whereas many have taken note of the state of the polity, especially in the light of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-health, el-Rufai does not have the patience for such niceties. He must seize the stage and dominate the discourse.
At issue here is the governor’s letter to the president. He was, ostensibly, addressing his godfather. That was the way it appeared. But he addressed Nigerians at the same time. He told President Buhari, his benefactor, that all was not well with their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and, by extension, the government of the day. El-Rufai said those of them who formed the APC and used it to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had a dream. They envisioned an Eldorado. They thought that PDP was on the wrong track. They set out, as he imagined, to put the country on the path of good governance. That was the mental flight that the likes of el-Rufai reveled in.
However, since wishes are not horses, beggars must remain as spectators. They may never ride the horses of their dream. Reality has set in and those whose heads turned torrent are beginning to apply the brakes. That is the inescapable truth that is staring the new men of power menacingly in the face. El-Rufai is clearly ill at ease with the set-up. Less than two years into the journey, he has come to the painful realisation that all is not well. The governor is saying that the house they built has crumbled like a pack of cards. Their dream remains still born. It has become a red flag flying over Nigeria. The Kaduna governor seems to regret all this. That is the lamentation of the accidental civil servant. That is what he called himself in his controversial book. Now, without having to write a new book, el-Rufai has ignited another fire of controversy, involving him and his fellow crew members aboard the APC ship of state.
Like the accidental public servant that he said he was, el-Rufai and the crew he is up against are products of an accident. As a central player in the government of the PDP led by Olusegun Obasanjo, el-Rufai turned his back on the party that propped him up. He disowned the party and in the process bit the finger that fed him. The man remained on that path of treachery until the advent of APC. His new-found party, to a large extent, was peopled mostly by former PDP members, who benefitted immensely from the party. But in denouncing the PDP, they spared little or no thought for their old-time dalliance with the party. They acted as if they just dropped from the moon. That was why the likes of el-Rufai dreamt dreams. That was why they had their head in the cloud.
But in all of this, it would appear that the PDP defectors who, together with strange bed fellows from ACN and CPC, formed the APC did not take into consideration the variegated nature of the coalition. The el-Rufais of this world saw the situation from one prism. He and his cohorts did not see the many colours of the rainbow. They only saw the shade of black or white. They suffered from absolute lack of recognition and appreciation of the space they inhabited. It was in this state that they set sail.
Regardless of their lack of understanding of the true state of affairs, they were still able, by sheer default, to get to the Promised Land. It was so because their object of pursuit, the PDP, had come to have a bloated sense of self. It was no longer in the race to compete. It felt, rather erroneously, that its success was a fait accompli. Consequently, it went to sleep and all the accidents occurred. The el-Rufais and Buharis of this world are today products of that accident. And because it was an accident, those of them on whose shoulder the mantle of leadership fell do not know what to do with it. They are running from pillar to post in desperate search for an anchor. The Kaduna governor knew this much. He knew that the rainbow coalition was not grounded enough to assume the reins of governance. But having got there through a chance occurrence, the major actors have to remain relevant by putting up a bold face. This was to be the mode of operation, the governance style of the accidental coalition and its products.
El-Rufai knew what went wrong and he would have put up with the oddity.
But he has been prompted to act otherwise by circumstance. The circumstance here is the absence of a head to rely on. The issue here is the health condition of President Buhari. From what we can see, the president is no longer strong enough to lead both his government and the party. Given this circumstance, he is certainly not going to be a factor to reckon with in the days to come. This being the case, it can be safely said that a gap exists within the APC. The party is in dire need of an arrowhead, who will give it a sense of direction. Who will play this role? Who will the cap fit? The answer to these nagging questions is what el-Rufai is doing battle with. It is what has driven him into his sermon on the mount. It is the reason for the outcry.
But el-Rufai would not have blurted out were the president still in good shape. He would have schemed along. He would have, like the ostrich, buried his head in the sand. Even if he was tempted to speak up, he would have weighed the consequences of his action. Under the present condition, he knows that there will be no consequence. That is why he has chosen to play to the gallery. The expectation is that the public will not see through the smokescreen.
Unfortunately, his voice sounds shrill. It is like a lone voice in the wilderness. It is so because the governor does not have sympathisers. He has nobody to empathise with him. He is alone in this journey because those who ought to show solidarity understand the intent. They know that the governor’s action is self-serving. They know that his denunciation of the goings-on in the party and the government is not really altruistic. It is driven by ambition. It is an attempt to assume the moral high ground in the hope that it will make him look good in the eyes of the public.
Ugwuanyi at 53
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State turned 53 this Monday. As should be expected, his friends and associates did not allow the day to go unnoticed. They celebrated him in words and action.
I think that the governor deserves all the encomiums showered on him. This is because before now, the people of Enugu State as well as the friends of the state have readily been acknowledging the fact that the governor is making the right impact. But I admire the governor for one principal reason. He is one of the few governors that I know that has no baggage to contend with. This is a rare attribute, especially in this world of scandal and sleaze.
In the absence of any excess luggage, the governor is focused on his job. He is not in the league of the attention-seeking, pretentious public office holders, who populate the political space in this country. He is without airs and he is without malice. With Ugwuanyi, Enugu is in good hands. Happy birthday, the gentleman governor.