•Say book is ‘full of half-truths, exaggeration’
Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el- Rufai, yesterday launched his much-publicised book in Abuja. El-Rufai, a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), allocated some portions of the book to comments on ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who was also chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the council that supervises the BPE.
The ex-minister’s bombshell on his two former bosses (Obasanjo and Atiku) attracted condemnation from them. Obasanjo’s aides may have declared war on el-Rufai over his comments against the ex-president. In fact, Obasanjo and Atiku’s camps in unison, condemned the former minister, calling him a liar. Obasanjo and Atiku’s aides boycotted the launch of the book entitled: ‘The Accidental Public Servant,’ in protest. The book was reviewed by the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Anselm Odinkalu, who said in the book that el-Rufai made a transition from being a politician to a political activist.
Meanwhile, a source close to the Obasanjo’s inner caucus said that the former President was not only angry, but enraged against el-Rufai over the contents of his book and that was why all aides of the former President, in spite of the fact that they served together under him, boycotted the launch.
The only exception was Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, former Education Minister, who attended the event because of her closeness to the author. Former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who also graced the occasion, was never part of the inner caucus of Obasanjo’s administration.
According to the source, el-Rufai, with the contents of the book, several portions of which he described as fiction concocted to embarrass the former President should also brace up to face the truth about his activities in government during Obasanjo’s tenure. “El-Rufai is a joker, it is difficult to understand his motive except probably the book has been generating a lot of controversy since its serialization commenced in the media.
The source said that Obasanjo’s aides’ absence at the event was a direct reflection of the mood and attitude of Obasanjo about certain contents of the book considered not only offensive but designed to embarrass him. “To polish his ( el-Rufai’s) battered image over his handling of the FCT affairs.
These brazen lies will not help him and he knows. “Here is a man who is already indicted before a competent court of the land. He cannot deceive the public with his book by attempting to present himself as angel to the people.
He should be ashamed of himself,” the source said. Also reacting, Atiku’s Media Office through a statement, dismissed el-Rufai’s book as a collection of fiction, half truths, exaggeration and and reflection of selective memory.
The Media Office was particularly piqued by the claim of el-Rufai that he had almost resigned as the former BPE Director-General because of alleged persistent pressure and interference by Atiku who was the NCP chairman. It expressed disbelief that the former FCT minister forgot soon what he said at the Senate Public Hearing on BPE between August 8 and, 2011.
The Ad-hoc committee was headed by Senator Ahmed Lawan. “It recalled el-Rufai as saying that he had special relationship with former President Obasanjo, which gave him direct access and the discretion to bypass the NCP headed by Atiku in order to get the approval of the President.” The Media Office wondered how el-Rufai could reconcile his threat of resignation with the accounts he told the Senate about the latitude of freedom he enjoyed at BPE because of his closeness to Obasanjo.
On the claim by el-Rufai that Obasanjo went down on his knees before Atiku to seek his co-operation for second term bid in 2003, the office dismissed the claim as a figment of el-Rufai’s wild imagination. It said such claim “lacked any credibility because Atiku and Obasanjo were alone together behind closed doors and that they alone knew what actually transpired between them.”
The Media Office wondered whether el-Rufai was a fly on the wall to discuss the details of a private meeting between the two leaders. “Rather than el-Rufai feeding the public with such fabrications, the statement said the former minister should have provided or quoted the authority for such claim since he was not at the private meeting between Obasanjo and Atiku.”
The statement also noted that for a man like el-Rufai who had alleged reputation for disparaging religions and their icons, including lately Jesus Christ, the attack on Atiku was the least surprising. It noted that “if he could go to such irreverent extent to disparage religious icons, who is an ordinary mortal like Atiku Abubakar?” Speaking at the public presentation of the book, former Head of State, who was also presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), gave reasons why the CPC, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are in a merger.
Buhari also lamented the destruction of institutions by past leaders, even as he eulogised the colonial masters for the legacy they bequeathed to the nation. Buhari revealed that the essence of the merger, is to secure and manage Nigeria. “I think that the bottom-line is that we want to mobilize Nigerians toward 2015, to secure and manage Nigeria,” Buhari said.
On the merger, the former Head of State said to be fair to those committees for the parties participating, they have given them terms of reference and should be allowed to carry out their assignment. “I think we should allow them to formally tell us what they have done before we start giving it to the press. Otherwise, we are undermining the authority we have given them,” Buhari added.
Buhari praised the British for what they passed on to Nigerian leaders, saying they established great institutions for us. “The police, the judiciary, the military, the civil service. And even compared with other countries, you will have some respect for the British.
“From the end of World War (1), to World War (11), and the Civil War, every life of the Italian government about nine months, and if you look at their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, it went up like that.
What made it possible was strong institutions. “In Nigeria here, those who thought they were strong, they destroyed the institutions. Now, we have our problems. Paradoxically, to get strong people to come back, to revive those institutions; otherwise, we are really going to be in trouble,” Buhari noted. Reviewing the book, Odinkalu said: “El-Rufai cares about Nigeria and says it the way it is.”
The occasion also had in attendance Governors Babatunde Raji Fashola (Lagos), Umaru Tanko al-Makura ( Nasarawa), Kayode Fayemi ( Ekiti), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Ibrahim Dankwambo ( Gombe) and ACN’s spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who represented former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, amongst others.
Tinubu described the author as good accident in the public service. “Many talk about their accidents in life, be it in public or in private, but only a few dare document it and share it in such a bold, blunt and daring manner like Nasir has done in the pages of his book. “In the pages of his book we learn wisdom, we glean brilliance and we are exposed to the follies, fooleries and vainness of power. We see exposed as mere mortals even those invested with enormous powers to lead Nigeria and direct our lives,” he said.