By: Joe Dauda
For many years, I considered former Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the most sophisticated and educated, young politician from the north, with sufficient cosmopolitan exposure to be President of Nigeria. In fact, I secretly wished he would be President after Goodluck Jonathan. My impression of him was of one too interested in progress and development to be mired in primordial sentiments and religious bigotry. I hereby repent of my folly. Except someone will provide evidence that the video I watched today was the handiwork of engineering manipulation that created a phantom that looked and talked exactly like Nasir El-Rufai, I’m disheartened and my hope for a new Nigeria has been greatly compromised.
If Nasir El-Rufai can talk and think like this, then the Yaro boys that burn people and their houses during religious riots are holy and righteous, in view of their level of education and varying disadvantages. If Nasir El-Rufai can say what I heard him say, then I have been living in a fool’s paradise thinking optimistically about Nigeria.
But all hope is not lost. And that is the point of this publication. Since silence is consent, and I’m willing to believe that not all Muslims in Nigeria – educated or illiterate, Shia or Sunni, male or female – share this gutter ideology espoused by El-Rufai, I’m appealing that such people publicly rebuke Nasir El-Rufai for his loaded speech.
If for nothing at least that would renew my hope in Nigeria. And to think that Nasir El-Rufai was appointed Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and then FCT Minister under the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo — a Christian — is more appalling. I have read his memoirs (Accidental Public Servant) and I know what he suffered during the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua — a fellow Muslim.
If people’s religion is more important than the content of their character, how come Nasir El-Rufai waxed brightly under the administration of a Christian President (OBJ) but had to go into exile during the presidency of his fellow Muslim brother, Yar’adua? I have nothing against El-Rufai. But I’m calling on moderate Muslims to realize that, with his level of intelligence, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, if left unchecked, has the capacity to cheat all of us by setting us against one another. So, no matter the personal or collective cost of rebuking him, we must take courage and do so — for the greater good. Whatever we suffer as a result will be in the pursuit of righteousness, and that is a privilege and an honor.
The first time I ever met El-Rufai was when he was FCT Minister, almost 20 years ago. During that meeting, he stopped me and asked me my name. When I told him, he repeated my name and said I was a very intelligent young man. I didn’t know why he said that because I wasn’t even attempting to impress him that day. There was a problem and we were there in his office to discuss the way forward. I just basically expressed an opinion. But he seemed so impressed by my thought and perhaps my elocution that he interrupted me, asked for my name, and complimented me in such a blatant manner. So I have nothing against the man and have always considered him a ball of fire, in terms of his intellectual capacity.
Why should such a person talk like he does not care about the unity of Nigeria — as long as his religion is apparently in the ascendancy? Is this wisdom or foolishness? Nasir El-Rufai may think he and people like him hold the four aces, but may I remind him that there is Someone upstairs? Someone is watching and has once declared the following words, which may catch Nasir El-Rufai one of these days: “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Sir, I love you. That’s why I hereby warn you to beware. This country is bigger than anybody and history does repeat itself. Before you were appointed FCT Minister, Obasanjo appointed Architect Ibrahim Bunu and then Engineer Muhammed Abba-Gana. Incidentally, I interviewed Engr. Abba-Gana recently and I wish to see Muslims with his kind of liberal ideology at the helm of affairs in this country.
There will be peace and great progress. What I can say in summary is that Engr Muhammed Abba-Gana is not like you. He takes Islam seriously and is probably more faithful to its teachings than you are — but he cannot say the sort of things you just said. Does that make Abba-Gana less of a Muslim? Do you not know that the man fears God so much he has no property in Abuja, even though he was FCT Minster from February 2001 to May 2003? Will Engr Abba-Gana’s respect for Christians shut him out of Aljanah? So, who is a better Muslim? Is it the absolutely honest Muslim who also loves his neighbor as himself (no matter their religion) or the one who is tickling the base sentiments of other Muslims for personal advantage?
What do you want us to do with our Muslim friends? Stop relating with them? By the grace of God, there are more Muslims in Nigeria that think soberly than those who think like you. So your failure is guaranteed. Do you know what would happen if every Muslim in Nigeria thought like you? How would Nigeria work out? Yet you are highly educated and supposedly sophisticated. Is this the product of your education or is this just sadism?
Have you heard of the name Chief Sunday Awoniyi? He was a Yoruba man and he was the Chairman of the well-known Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. Don’t you think Nigeria is better off with such developments of Christians and Muslims doing their best to tolerate one another and respect one another’s differences rather than gloating the way you did in that unfortunate video?
What is the value of civilization and education if not in equipping one to coexist especially with those one does not agree with in some way? I rest my case, saddened beyond measure that a man I admired so much has finally provided evidence that he is exactly what many people have been accusing him of — a religious bigot. For those who want to hear Nasir El-Rufai vomit words that should disturb every well-meaning Muslim and alarm every well-meaning Christian, the said video is available on request.
Watch out for my next article titled: The Greatest Deception in Modern Christianity.
Joe Dauda is a public affairs commentator and analyst and can be reached through email@example.com