It seems, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has murdered sleep, and he is no longer likely to sleep with his two eyes closed. Going by the revelations filtering into the open at the moment, the worrisome Nigeria’s security mess was politically engineered by forces that were desperate for political power. That by now should not be in doubt. Secondly, it is becoming clearer that there are political potentates in Nigeria who are profiting from the gushing blood well.
The iconic Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, in one of his plural prophetic lyrics says when cat sleep rat go bite him tail wetin he dey find, palaver. In relation to the unfolding Nigeria’s political soap opera, this may be Governor El-Rufai’s season of palaver. With the Shia Islam case yet unsettled, he unkindly ‘poisoned’ his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom. Now, the man is vomiting the secret venom of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So it seems.
Interestingly, after ditching the party that made him, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Kaduna governor became a political bed fellow of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one of the coalition parties that formed the APC. Before returning to the PDP, Ortom was an inner figure of the APC. On that note, it will not be security wise to dismiss his outburst on El-Rufai as mere bad politics.
The attacking Kaduna governor said his firing back Benue counterpart is using the insecurity in his state to attack the Buhari administration in order to cover up his own failure. For El-Rufai, he is no longer taking Ortom seriously. He said so while responding to a video showing Ortom addressing protesters after some killings in Benue. The video was played during a webinar organised by the Africa Leadership Group.
”I did not hear what Governor Ortom said (in the video) but I know him and he is not somebody I take very seriously, frankly. He has other issues of governance that he is using the Federal Government as a punching bag to distract attention from his failures. Go and find out how many months’ salaries are being owed teachers and public servants in Benue State then you can understand a lot of what Ortom is doing”,
El-Rufai said, admitting that there is a fundamental problem with the capacity of the Armed Forces and the police.
Adding, he said, ”we have a serious national problem. I wouldn’t say we are totally helpless but we are in a situation where the Armed Forces and the police have lost significant confidence in themselves and their institutions”, pointing out that security agents need more weapons and there is a need to increase the number of operatives.
Opening a seeming can of worms on the godfathers of terrorism disturbing Nigeria, Governor Ortom accused El-Rufai of directly being behind the attacks in parts of the country, insisting that his kaduna state counterpart paid terrorists in the past and has continued to facilitate their operations in the country.
Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, in a statement said, “Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him. He is among the very few persons who have misled President Buhari. El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.”
Ortom is claiming that El-Rufai does not possess the credentials to counsel anyone on payment of salaries and the welfare of workers, pointing out, ”this is a governor who recently sacked 4,000 workers for no just cause. He ought to be ashamed of himself. What happened to the lofty promises he made to Kaduna people in 2015?
“We want to believe that El-Rufai was wrongly quoted. A man who has failed in several aspects as governor of Kaduna has no moral justification to accuse another governor. A governor who has divided the good people of Kaduna against one another by not hiding his hatred of indigenes of the state on account of religion and ethnicity is not qualified to judge another Governor on any issue whatsoever.
”A governor who chose a Muslim deputy in a state where Christians have a huge population is certainly not one to preach unity and peaceful co-existence. El-Rufai’s attack on Governor Ortom is merely to make him look good before the Presidency. He has apparently fallen out of favour at the Villa and wants to use Governor Ortom as a launch pad back to reckoning.
”How has he handled his own problems in Kaduna? This is a man who has insulted almost every prominent Nigerian including the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former President Olusegun Obasanjo; a man who is his former boss and one who brought him to limelight.
“Nigerians have not forgotten the unprintable things El-Rufai said during Goodluck Jonathan’s time as President. He insulted the then President and publicly supported terrorists attacking parts of the country. His statements on the abduction of Chibok girls and several other acts of terrorism are still fresh in our minds. El-Rufai is on record to have said repeatedly that Fulani people must retaliate any wrong done to them no matter how long it takes.
“Is Governor Ortom responsible for El-Rufai’s inability to ensure peace in Kaduna State where bandits have taken over some communities while kidnappings and killings occur on daily basis?
“El-Rufai admitted to paying Fulani herdsmen whom he invited from other West African countries in the name of stopping attacks in Southern Kaduna. Since he made the confessional statement, attacks on the people of Southern Kaduna have escalated. This is why he wants men of good conscience like Governor Ortom to be silent to pave way for the conquest and expansion agenda to succeed.
”Kidnapping has become a common crime in Kaduna under Nasir el-Rufai. Aside the much celebrated cases, it has been estimated that at every given time, not less that 300 persons are abducted in Kaduna by kidnappers who are always identified as El-Rufai’s kinsmen. He pays them billions to embolden them. He has turned the state into one of the most unsafe places to live in Nigeria today.
“Talking about taking someone seriously, if other Nigerians take El-Rufai seriously, we in Benue do not do same. A man who has no regard for humanity does not deserve our attention.
“The Kaduna governor should know that only two days ago, the people of Benue State met at a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi and unanimously passed a vote of confidence on Governor Ortom in recognition of his performance. That meeting was attended across party lines with leaders of APC also present.
“El-Rufai and his conspirators must note that Benue State will not repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, no matter the amount of blackmail, hatred and threats they wage against Governor Ortom. We advise the Kaduna State governor to focus on addressing the numerous problems he has created in his state and leave Governor Ortom to lead Benue in peace.”
In the mean time, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is condemning a statement credited to El Rufai, that the South-East region will not get the 2023 Presidency by insulting and threatening other Nigerians.
In a statement by Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the pan-Igbo group described El-Rufai’s assertion as “idiotic and laughable”, stating further that the 2023 Igbo presidency belonged to the Igbo and the Kaduna governor should stop blackmailing the region and focus on the security challenges confronting his state.
El-Rufai spoke during a webinar organised by the Africa Leadership Group and tagged “Developing a Viable Nation 2”. Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House hosted the event.
El-Rufai, while responding to a question about why someone of Igbo extraction had not become Nigeria’s president yet, had said, “I don’t think anyone has stopped the South-East from going for the Presidency. But you see, you cannot get the Presidency of Nigeria by threats or by shouting victimhood. This is a political process, and you have to engage other parts of Nigeria to convince them to support you.
“I think the South-East is going about it the wrong way because if you look at the APC, for instance, we do not have many footprints in the South-East.”
But Ohanaeze Ndigbo say, “Nigerians are aware of the backstage activities of Gov El Rufai as the ‘Idi Amin of the North’, whose interest is contradictory to the Northern collective interests. He is only pushing the selfishness of the few cabals deceiving President Muhammadu Buhari without any solution to the insecurity challenges in the north and now spreading in the south. We urge El Rufai to fix the Kaduna State insecurity challenges before discussing the 2023 elections.
“South-East is not alone in the secessionist movements. We have seen Oduduwa and Middle belt ethnic groups displaying flags of Oduduwa and Middle belt nations, as both groups are in the same self-determination struggle as the Igbos. We are aware that in1999, Nigerians voted for Yoruba presidency based on the injustices meted against MKO Abiola which brought Obasanjo Presidency. We are aware that Niger delta struggles brought former President Jonathan to power in 2011.
“We are also aware that El Rufai and other northerners used the Northern insurgency to push President Buhari to power in 2015. It’s time to use the 2023 Igbo Presidency project to end the Biafra agitation, as any attempt by El-Rufai and co-travellers to blackmail Igbos with secessionist movements is dead on arrival.”