Soni Daniel, Regional Editor North; Emeka Mamah, Henry Umoru & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — Chieftains of the new opposition Mega party, All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd), and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, lamented that the government was concerned about its survival and was spending too much money on security at the expense of education.
Both spoke in Abuja at the presentation of a book, “Accidental Public Servant”, written by former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el- Rufai.
Buhari, in his address, regretted that unlike in the past when priority attention was given to education by the country’s leaders, the present system has not been paying more than two or five per cent to the sector.
Education first —Buhari
Buhari said: ‘The little I read about Accidental Public Servant reminded me of the visit of Obama to Ghana, leaving Nigeria and South Africa before returning to the United States. He did say that promoting democracy requires strong institutions not strong people. The British established strong institutions for us – the Police, the Civil Service, the Judiciary and the Military, that when compared to other countries, you will have some respect.
“In Nigeria here, those who were strong destroyed the institutions, now our problem is basically to get the strong to rebuild the institutions so that we can sustain our development, otherwise we are really into a big trouble.
“We are so intertwined that it is so impossible to divide. All we have to do is to improve it and that is why I respect the late Ahmadu Bello and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. When I was corrected by El- Rufai himself, the late Sarduana was spending 43 per cent of the national budget on education; El Rufai corrected me that it was 46 per cent.
“Awolowo was spending more than 55 per cent. You can’t go wrong. All we get now is only two or five per cent on education and the rest on security. This book has been written by El-Rufai to appeal to our consciences to sit up and re-organise and fix this country.”
Jonathan is pursuing third term enterprise —Tinubu
Tinubu in his speech said that ‘’the criminal third term enterprise’’ of former President Olusegun Obasanjo was being re-enacted by the current administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Sadly, the Nigerian narrative has not changed from what it was during the time Nasir has written about. The narrative has unfortunately worsened whereby Nigerians are saddled with a government concerned more about its survival, elongation in power and fighting imagined enemies than applying itself to running the country properly,’’ he said.
His words: ‘’The compelling power of Nasir’s work is the fact that he has exposed us to the mind set of those that Nigerians have entrusted with power….Nasir is an angry man and that is understandable. He is weighed down by the failure of the project a few of them under the government they served envisioned. He has demonstrated in his revelations how most of those entrusted with power even at that time could not shed their baggage and put Nigeria first.
“His book is not just a window into our world. It has opened a door that leads us into seeing what Nigeria is and how those that wield power behave and misbehave. It is a book with the potential for a long shelf life and will remain a reference point for journalists, pundits, analysts and most of those in and out of power. Most importantly, the academia and students of Political Science will benefit from it.
“Thanks to Nasir, we now know that most of our leaders are soon overcome and consumed by their unbridled lust for power and that the public or Nigerians are mere irritants. Their protests and complaints are insignificant in a situation of absolute power and too much money. The resources of the country that ought to have been deployed to better the lives of the people are being used against them to perpetuate them in poverty and political enslavement.
“Nasir, through this book, has challenged all the others that took that power ride with him to come out and tell their stories. Nigerians want to know. However, most gratifying is the fact that some of what we knew happened and which we fought against have been confirmed by Nasir. Nasir tells us Nigeria still has a long way to go and the architects of a new Nigeria are not yet in place. What we have now are wayfarers, scavengers in the corridors of power and apologists, professionals whose ethics evaporate the moment they come in contact with the paraphernalia of power.”
Lets learn from our mistakes—El-Rufai
The author, Mallam El-Rufai, who was overwhelmed by emotions as he broke down and wept openly, charged Nigerians to reflect on what those in government did right as well as their mistakes in order to move the nation forward.
EL-Rufai said: “My hope is that you people will reflect on some of the things we did in government that were right and many of the things that we did that were mistakes.
“I think that lessons are learnt when additional memories are protected when people learn from what works and what doesn’t work and personal mistakes and errors of leaders.
“That is how to build a nation; that is how future generations learn and this is why I wrote the book, I don’t think we should have the conspiracy of silence about how our government is being run, I think we should talk openly about it, celebrate what we did right and admit where we made mistakes and name names so that people will know that when you are in leadership position, history will judge you, that is what is my biggest motive here,” he said.
Don’t call God’s name in vain —Fashola
Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, who described the author of the book as a man with a character for public discourse, stated that it was either that Nigerians were familiar with his (El-Rufai’s) character or were curious about him.
Fashola urged Nigerians to emulate El-Rufai and to stop calling the name of God in vain but to do what is right at all times for the benefit of society at large.
Nigeria celebrates villains — Bakare
Fiery cleric and activist, Pastor Tunde Bakare, said that for Nigeria to be able to solve its mounting challenges, it must deviate from the path of celebrating mediocrity and entrust the affairs of the nation to only competent hands.
He said: “It is only in Nigeria that heroes are vilified and villains hailed by the society.”
Merit, competence matter —Sanusi, CBN Governor
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido said that the problem with Nigeria as a country was not only that of corruption and ethnicity, but total disregard for merit and competence.
The CBN governor stressed that if Nigeria as a country must get it right and achieve the needed growth and development, issues of ethnicity, religion must be jettisoned and those qualified to occupy certain positions of authority must be there irrespective of where they come from.
Yar’Ádua meant well for Nigeria
Sanusi used the occasion to praise the late President Umaru Yar’Adua as a detribalised Nigerian leader who appointed him to the present post based on his conviction that he (Sanusi) was qualified and competent enough to handle the CBN job.
Sanusi noted: “Yar’Adua was somebody I never met in my life before February 2009 when he sent for me and we discussed the economy and banking for about 15 minutes and the next time was May 8, 2009 when he appointed me as CBN governor.
According to Sanusi, the late President was a man who was prepared to take risk for the country.
Sanusi also urged those in government to identify the difference between loyalty and sycophancy as people must be prepared to tell their bosses the truth whether they like it or not.
The CBN governor who described El’Rufai as being more controversial than himself, said that it was people who have nothing positive to offer the nation that always propagate the issue of ethnicity and religion rather than talk about issues of national importance.
El Rufai is a statesman —Prof Odinkalu
The Book reviewer, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said that El-Rufai in the book made a transition from political activism to a statesman and that the former FCT minister cared more on what happened to the country against his personal gains.
He said governance in the country was a business of environmentalists where incompetent persons were being recycled and made to treat all aspects of governance with impunity.