No regrets over Abuja demolitions – El-Rufai
By Soni Danie, Regional Editor, North
ABUJA—Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has said he had no regrets whatsoever for the spate of demolition of buildings in the city during his tenure as minister, which left many families stranded and unable to regain their balance till date.
In his new book, “Accidental Public Servant” due for presentation in Abuja today, El-Rufai also explained why he quit the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in 2010, saying the party had lost focus and direction.
“As I say to anyone who cares to ask why I decided to leave the PDP in 2010, it was because the party had evolved within four years into a totally different party-more toxic, self-centred and controlled by a tiny clique of morally-flexible people,” the former minister stated.
Sounding unapologetic over his tenure, which led to the demolition of no fewer than 200 buildings in the FCT and thousands in the satellite towns, the former minister maintained that he had to take drastic actions to save Abuja from being turned into a slum by influential persons in the corridors of power.
The former minister said in the 627-page book: “For me restoring order in the chaos that we found in many aspect of living in Abuja at the time, was simply consistent with my personal philosophy in life, a preference for rules and orderliness- a burden that I needed to discharge personally so I could sleep well at night.
“It was without question worth giving four years of my life pursuing. Therefore, I have no regrets for attempting to do what we did. We did what we believed was right at the time.”
Dislodging the cabal
El-Rufai said he was able to dislodge the cabal distorting the Abuja Master plan and using land allocations to enrich themselves at the expense of the country and its people.
According to him, the rich and powerful elements in the military and politics, who had cornered choice plots in the city through the backdoor, were more interested in trading with the plots for higher profits rather than building on the land, which had stipulated timeframe.
He admitted, “I love Abuja and gave nearly four years of my life to its restoration, orderliness and development.
Obasanjo’s love for Abuja
“I was able to do my assignment because Obasanjo, who appointed me minister, considered Abuja as his own child and supported me as his son for the FCT assignment and up to this point in time, I have not disappointed him,” he explained.
The author noted that he had to urgently deal with the rot that was fast creeping into the capital city not minding whose ox was gored, because of his firm belief that anyone in leadership position had no alternative than doing what was right for its own sake.
El-Rufai explained that it was his honesty that convinced him to demolish the house of the then PDP national chairman, Senator Ahmadu Ali, without caring a hoot.
He pointed out that given his closeness to the former chairman he would have overlooked the infraction committed by him and spared his building in Asokoro District, which was sitting on a sewage line.
The former minister regretted that it would not have been possible under the PDP of today to pull down the house of its national chairman, saying that the current situation was a setback to the country.
He asked rhetorically: “Is it possible in the PDP of 2010, I always ask, for any minister of the FCT to take down a building owned by the chairman of the ruling party? “No way”-virtually everyone would respond.
“However, we did what we did, life continued like nothing had happened as it should. Rules should apply to everyone without fear or favour.”
El-Rufai noted that his actions were premised on the public good, saying that his conscience had not pricked him in anyway even after leaving office.
The Congress for Progress Change big wig stated that the actions he took were premised on certain lessons, which Nigerians should learn and reflect on them so as to move forward.
As he puts it, ‘’it is posterity in this life, and the Almighty God in the next that will ultimately judge our decisions and actions and not those timorous souls too quick to render opinions based on the short term.
“Finally, there is an important message for the discerning arising from the corrective actions we took. It would teach a lesson that although a ‘big man’ may presume to have clout to violate the regulations of today but sooner than later, the law would catch up with him and often at a greater cost,” he warned.
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