Nasir El-Rufai. Two things come to mind. One, a man who is disliked by so many Nigerians. And two, a man who is fighting for a political relevance. If El-Rufai is a Religion, I do not belong to his faith-circle. I do not want to sound either like an El-Rufai apologetics. I do not set out to write about him for any gainful reasons. I have no commitments, whatsoever, to his political dreams or ambitions. I write from a pure observational purview. But one thing I cannot deny is this, he is pragmatic. With his usual tick ring of classes circling his eyes, he speaks softly and slowly like a man whose mouth is lacking in moisture. Obviously, his physiological appearance portrays a man with a fragile frame, a frailty coming not from any physical infirmity nor advancement in age but from his nature-given thinness of bodily characteristics. But within this nature of his, El-Rufai radiates a formidable charisma of optimism and leadership
The reason why so many elements in Nigeria sustain a high voltage of resentment and crude antagonism against him baffles my mind particularly. To my political awareness, El-Fufai is among the reformers that Nigeria has been craving for since independence. He is surgical, fearless, focused and very revolutionary in administration. Only these kinds of folks can transform Nigeria. Who actually can talk about the face of the New Abuja without talking about the revolutionary leadership of El-Rufai. Before him, the Federal Capital Territory was a mess. Military dictatorship and civil corruption had turned the master plan of the city like any other city in Nigeria–unorganized, unplanned, rowdy, spontaneous, unkempt, careless, neglected, dirty and disgraceful. It was this manâ€™s dreams and commitment that rebuild Abuja to what it is today. Perhaps, FCT would have remained the way it was had El-Rufai not appointed minister.
It was a paralyzing shock to so many individuals and families in Nigeria. The demolition (of illegal structures) that went on under El-Rufai made national headlines. And for me, this is one of the channels thought which mass resentment welled-up tremendously against him. Lots of hardworking Nigerian lost everything they have labored hard to achieve–homes, offices, businesses and landed properties. Many left Abuja during the period and went back to the village unemployed and disenfranchised. Who would loose all these and not complain? I would too. But the fact remains that it was a necessary evil that needed to happen before FCT could be clean and dissent.
I cringe when I look at cities in Nigeria. How did we come all these way only to realize we have been on a wrong route? How did we come to building cities, erecting gigantic infrastructures that are out of order with the true master plans of national development? Cities like Onitsha, Aba, Kano, Jos, Port Harcourt, and so many others, that boom with excessively high population density, but with little or no government infrastructural plan in place to sustance the population surge are time bombs waiting to explode. The brilliant governor of Lagos state is already taking up heat for demolishing illegal structures to create a sanitary city worthy of the 21st century.
Nigeria would eventually get out of its present political, social and economic quagmire and development would start happening. And a time would surely come when the greater percentage of all these illegal structure would need to go. People would cry, threat, hate, complain and most of all loose millions of naira on the process. These are the pains that go before healings. And they are surely necessary to occur.
I do sympathize with the new generation of Nigeria reformists. Folk like Nuhu Ribadu, life is by no means easy. Accusation after accusation were pilled up against him. He once stated thus: â€œwhen you fight corruption, it fights backâ€. This is a simple fact. These energetic reformers expose themselves and their families to all kinds of threats. But these are the only hope for the new Nigeria. There can never be true transformation in Nigeria without certain courageous folk standing up to the challenges. Nigeria is a gigantic nation that is very dysfunctional from within. A country where tax system does not work. Property development is not strictly regulated by the government. Majority of the businesses are unregulated. Government bureaucracy is to porous to detect and punish crimes. The institution of the police force is so corrupt the people do not trust it. No developmental machinery works. And ordinary people on the street do not care. They are content living the way they do because that is the only life they know. Any person with a reformist agenda is not only derided from the top but also from â€˜the peopleâ€™ themselves. That is why change is hard in Nigeria.
Does the Nigeria people actually understand that the like of El-Rufai is not the enemy but rather he is a man with a transformative agenda. And this is what he did: he â€˜disturbsâ€™ the present in order to change the future. Nigerians say they want change, but how many want the present to be DISTURBED? That is the real question. If the Nigerian government today enact a Total Land Reformation Act as a way of fostering socio-economic and infrastructural development, how many Nigeria are ready to fight against such reforms. These are what obtains in developed nations. Government bureaucracy injects orderliness and moderation though regulatory laws, policies and programs. And those who are appointed to bring such implementation to life should not be hunted down with vindictive and bogus accusations.
I believe sincerely that El-Rufai should be ready and willing to answer questions on corrupt practices and misuse of office as the minister of the Federal Capital Territory as he is being accused. If he is found guilty, let the law take its full effect. And on the other hand, shady-minded elements in Nigeria, who are anti-reform, should give way in order for Nigeria to grow. It is obvious that there are ill-will citizens who were benefiting financially with the laxity of property development laws in Abuja before El-Rufai was appointed. I am also sure that these folks, having being stripped of their shady powers, were angry and would do whatever it takes to ruin him.
Mr. El-Rufaiâ€™s political image has been in a downward spiral. And I see a man who is highly distresses and fighting for a political re-emergence in the Nigerian political scenery. He has resorted to sporadic use of the internet as a modus operandi for a political come-back. And one wonders if dropping comments here and there on the internet would serve him any good. As far as any form of political come-back in Nigeria is concern, this is my theory. I do not think that El-Rufai can genuinely contest and win any office based on â€˜the peopleâ€™sâ€™ elective power. The ordinary people, who do not understand his job as the FCT minister, might not vote him into any office. They simply see him as the enemy who ruined their livelihood. Even though, this is by no means the case.
And this is the major line-divide between El- Rufai and his exilic contemporay, Nuhu Ribadu. The people of Nigeria tend to lean toward the camp of Ribadu than they are to Rufai. The reason, ordinary Nigerians see Ribadu as going after the big men in power and cracking down on their corrupt practices. But they think of El-Rufai as destroying their homes and businesses and forcing them out of the Federal Capital Territory.
El-Rufai can only come back to government through special appointment. This is the only way he can regain his fame. Anything else is a mirage dream as far as the present Nigeria mass consciousness is concerned. But I have no doubt in my heart that if he is given a official appointment, he will make a best job out of it.