BY HAMISU ABUBAKAR
WHEN former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote that there was a political watch-list, many thought the grand old man of Nigerian politics was hallucinating. But thanks to the former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, we now know that there is indeed a list.
In fact, el-Rufai says he is number seven on the list. And also, because he has seen the list, el-Rufai knows the name of those on the list. And most of them are of the All Progressives Congress (APC) top guns.
Never mind that the diminutive man, with delusions of grandeur, thinks he is so important that he should be number seven of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s political foes.
But I suspect that such a list exists. The list is somewhere either in the Library of the Navigator or the den of the Lion of Bourdillon and leader of the APC.
I am miffed, and understandably so, at el-Rufai. A brief history will suffice here. I was in Abuja when the story made the rounds that Obasanjo gave the go-ahead to el-Rufai to roll out the bulldozers on demolition spree.
He was said to have gone to close the COJA Games (the All African Games) in the National Stadium in Abuja, during which he was booed by spectators who kept chanting Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! (Thief! Thief! Thief! Thief! Thief!)
Obasanjo was said to have maintained his cool as the embarrassment went on, but as soon as he was through, he was said to have asked an aide (some suspect it was the accidental public servant), who were those disgracing him before the African public, and by extension, the international community. The aide was said to have fingered the residents of Gwagwa, Idu, Karmo (slums in the Federal Capital City).
That singular comment reportedly led to the blank cheque that was given for the demolition of those shanties and such others in the city and its suburbs. Others caught in the demolition saga, like former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Col. Ahmadu Ali, were collateral damages and part of a grand design to whip political enemies of Obasanjo and his favourite son, el-Rufai, into line.
It was not that the former minister did not prosecute the restoration of the master plan of Abuja with single-mindedness, but he added needless wickedness with a high dose of diarrheic garrulity, as he hurled insults at anyone who questioned him. His co-traveller and Lagos Governor, Raji Fasola, did much more than el-Rufai, but he managed not to elicit the kind of pathological hatred that is the lot of el-Rufai.
And to think that the same man, who sent a lot of Igbo men back home, went there a short while ago to attempt to monitor the Anambra governorship elections! Was he hoping to be attacked so he could point a finger of guilt at Abuja?
Perhaps, what has drawn my ire so much about this man who claims to be from Zaria, but who enjoys using the tweeter so much that he makes derisive remarks about his prophet and the Lord Jesus Christ, was the comment on tweeter when an airplane he was on almost crashed and other passengers, fearful about what was about to happen, resorted to calling upon the names of Jesus Christ and Allah. He found their gesture funny and said so on his tweeter page.
What manner of man is this that thinks that people should not call on their God when in danger? This is the same man who always sought refuge under the cover of Obasanjo whenever he ran into trouble with his enemies, especially members of the National Assembly. It was better for him to run to his then political father, but it was wrong for others to run to the owner of the heavens and the earth.
Back to the political watch-list, if any, made popular by el-Rufai’s former godfather, Obasanjo. Many have said commentators and the presidency should concentrate on the message in Obasanjo’s letter rather than the messenger. But what if the messenger is actually the message? I mean, what if the message lacks credibility and the messenger throws his weight of dubious credibility behind the message?
That is a matter for another day. el-Rufai claims that four other prominent Nigerians like former military head of state, General (retd) Muhammadu Buhari; former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu; the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, are also on the list.
So if these prominent Nigerians, and others like Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), AbdulFatah (Kwara), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Bukola Saraki, Danjuma Goje, etc. are on this phantom list, how did el-Rufai get to number seven; or was the list not in order of political importance?
Amaechi has claimed that he is number one on the list. He made the allegation at a rally of the APC held at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on December 28, 2013, where he formally declared for the party. He had said: “I read the President’s letter; he said Obasanjo should prove and name those on the list. I am number one on the list. I am number one.”
So Tinubu and Buhari are not that important to occupy the top numbers? In his tweet, el-Rufai said: “On this note, I am going to bed. I am number 7 on the GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) snipers’ list; so I will only worry when GMB (General Muhammadu Buhari), Asiwaju, Amaechi, Akande, etc., are killed.”
Now I am a little confused; are we talking about a political watch-list or a sniper’s list? Where is Obasanjo to iron out the differences? This is because as I was preparing to doze off last night, I saw a list, and I was number 1000 on the list, marked political watch-list (it could be sniper’s list); I am however sure that before they get to me, if the targets are to be hit in descending order, I would have flown to Russia for political asylum. May be Putin will give me a room next door to Edward Snowden.
*Mr. Abubakar, a pubic affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.