By Tony Eluemunor
The Mallam Nasir el-Rufai as President speculation has refused to die despite his denying it recently, simply because it has never been unwarranted. That was why I was shocked when El-Rufai denied it in an August 2020 Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview where he called it baseless.
If El-Rufai had left it at that, perhaps, this piece would never have been written. But he didn’t. He said in that interview:“It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not, if He wants it, He will give it to you, but I have never sought the presidency of Nigeria, no one can say I have ever sought it.
”Well, when the late Mrs Remi Oyo, then former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s spokesperson said that Obasanjo never even planned to build a Presidential Library until the idea came towards the end of his presidency, I told her to think again because I had written in the Saturday Guardian in October 1999 that Obasanjo would be the first Nigerian president to own a presidential library. I got the information from somewhere.
Is inference allowed in elevated discourse? If so, it is truly easy to infer that the El-Rufai-for-Presidency scheme was on, and I would expect El-Rufai to have known about it.
To advance my evidence, I will call Mallam Nasir el-Rufai himself as my only witness. I will plead in this court of public discourse that El-Rufai should please bring his book, The Accidental Public Servant to court.
As the author of that book, he should remember the section where he wrote about the source of the trouble he and the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, had with the late President Umar Yar’Adua. So, as our Senior Advocates of Nigeria are wont to do in court, I would assume an intimidating posture, clear my throat and with all relish, drama and unbridled authority, ask the governor to open to page 358, in a section titled: “Umaru Asks Nuhu for Support: the Beginning of Our Trouble.”
Then I would ask him to read that section aloud. Then he would read what he wrote with his own hand:that Ribadu was so maddened that Obasanjo had favoured Yar’Adua above Nasir-el-Rufai to succeed him as president in 2007 that he told Yar’Adua to his face: “Well, Obasanjo has not told me, and as far as the presidency is concerned, I have my candidate for president, and that is El-Rufai.”
I know many people will argue that even if the fact that Ribadu wanted El-Rufai to succeed Obasanjo was proved beyond reasonable doubt, it still does not prove the speculation that El-Rufai himself was in on the scheme, or was keen on it.
So, did El-Rufai know about the El-Rufai by all means possible project? Well, I will still have to call in my witness to the stand against and I would then ask El-Rufai to open to page 359 of that same book, The Accidental Public Servant. Then he would entertain the court with what follows:“It took sometime before Nuhu figured out Obasanjo’s games and what was really happening. Nuhu’s instinctive reaction was that of a typical policeman—dust of EFCC’s files and comb for petitions against Umaru.
Nuhu did not realize it at that time, but he was the one in trouble not Obasanjo or Umaru. He dusted off all the files against Umaru and launched investigations. He was clearly trying to take Yar’Adua out of the race and narrow all options to zero except for El-Rufai.” (You now know why Yar’Adua removed Ribadu from his EFCC Chairman’s post so as to stop unjust arrests, arrest of political opponents, and the hypocrisy of claiming to be fighting corruption when the claimant was neck deep in the worst corruption— maligning others just because of politics. But liars told you it was because Ribadu arraigned Ibori in court ).
Ah Ha! So, El-Rufai knew what scheme Ribadu was actually neck-deep into for El-Rufai’s sake. Yet, anyone could still argue that awareness alone would not mean that El-Rufai was in support of the plan, let alone the ploy and subterfuge involved which in some luckier countries could have qualified as a thorough going abuse of office to help land the official’s bosom friend into the president’s office.
Here, I would tender a document that would make Nicolo Machiavelli’s The Prince sound like a kindergarten book; Machiavelli was not as unscrupulous and outright immoral as the authors of that document that argued that a member of Obasanjo’s Economic Team should succeed Obasanjo in office for two reasons. One, that only such a person would continue with the Obasanjo administration’s policies. Two, that the members of the Economic Team would be hunted down and punished if power eluded them.
So far, all well and good, but the document went beyond that and into the all evil and gruesome realm. It recommended that all security agencies should be used to ensure only Economic Team members succeeded Obasanjo and that only vetted and approved members of the public should be allowed into political offices from Aso Rock to Councilor.
So, Ribadu wasn’t just going rogue when he insisted on stopping Yar’Adua from becoming president. Before then, and perhaps as an example to the Military, the police and other security agencies, Ribadu, addressing the Senate, pronounced 33 state governors tainted or as Ribadu said, had cases to answer.
They had not been tried in any court…but Nigerians understood the speech and the nuances, termed them corrupt and clapped. Even lawyers and Civil Rights Organisations applauded. It was all part of that ploy to make someone president. And I know Ribadu didn’t write that paper. A plan was on, an audacious plan.