‘I missed Nigeria, my family’
AFTER over two years of self-imposed exile,Â Â former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai yesterday returned to the country declaring that he missed Nigeria, his family, friends and everyone.
El-Rufai who arrived aboard aÂ British Airways plane was warmly received by over 100 family members and well wishers at the Abuja airport.He was thereafter driven in a black Range Rover to his No.31, Musa Ahmed Crescent, Jabi District, Abuja residence.
After a 10-hour rest, he came out to pray and laterÂ spoke to journalists.He commended Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, for initiating moves geared towards bringing about positive reforms in Nigeriaâ€™s electoral system.
The former minister who said he was happy to return home said for now he would keep quiet and study the government and the country, just as he promised to work with Nigerians he described as â€˜agents of changeâ€™, adding that he was not rattled.
Mallam El-Rufai promised to go to the office of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) this week to pursue what he termedÂ politically motivated charges that were being levelled against him by the Commission.
He also issued a statement saying: â€œMy dear Nigerians, it feels good to be back. I am delighted to return home after almost two years of absence. It is a period within which I enhanced my education and endured much vilification and persecution.
â€œThrough it all, I have retained my faith in Nigeria, its people and its possibilities; and I have been encouraged by the appreciation my compatriots continue to show for my contributions in public service. It is also fitting that I thank all those groups and persons that have supported me in very trying moments. I salute Nigerians for their growing insistence that this country can and should be better run. This is further cause for hope because it shows that there is an abiding faith that this can yet become a great country in fact, and not just by aspiration.
â€œIt is my hope that Nigerians in the Diaspora, spread across the world; Nigerians who love their country; who understand its vast potential, feel compelled to return to Nigeria.Â There is a small window of opportunity to build a new Nigeria â€“ where the government is accountable to its people; where civil society becomes the guardian of its democracy.Â There is an opportunity to have Nigeria open for business, but not business as usual.Â Â â€œThere is an opportunity to take the reins of control from small corrupt elite and return it to its rightful owners â€“ the 150 million Nigerians.
There is an opportunity for the â€œagents of changeâ€ to take the arch of history and bend and shape it to their willâ€.
â€œWe need to work with those â€œagents of changeâ€ to ensure a free and fair election in Nigeria.Â Towards this end, I applaud the decisive actions of acting President Goodluck Jonathan in setting a new direction for good governance, and most recently, for paving the way for the re-constitution of the Independent National Electoral Commission.Â I also commend him for his successful visit to the United States where he was able to reinvigorate Nigeriaâ€™s bilateral relationship with that major world power.
â€œIt is already well known that I am working with like minded Nigerians to promote the robust participation of Nigerians in their own governance. Aside from this collective vision, please know that my first personal priority is to clear my name from the onslaught of political attacks and slander perpetrated against my person in the past two years. Many of the false allegations have since been dropped and it is instructive to note that only one criminal charge has been filed against me after over two years of extensive and endless investigations. It is my intention to vigorously defend the spurious charge and work within the legal system to exonerate myselfâ€.
The former Minister who praised Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola for what he said he heard about his transforming Lagos, promised to visit him in the next few weeks.