Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has been in the news lately, peddling all manners of allegations. The most glaring is that some close associates of President Muhammadu Buhari do not want the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Tinubu to win. However, while such an opinion may appear plausible, the messenger is notoriously suspect.
Anyone who has read the book, “Accidental Public Servant” by el-Rufai could reason that the man is a pestilent personality, pathological liar, ethnic bigot, ego maniac cum rabble-rouser. Any credible psychiatrist who takes a closer look at him could tell that he is a borderline mental case. In short, whatever he lacks in personality, he makes up for foolishness. If he is not threatening to send back foreign election watchers in body bags, he would be swearing that Peter Obi of the Labour Party could not draw a crowd of 200 people in Kaduna state. If he is not belittling the entire Nollywood movie industry, he is busy insulting the elders from entire Northern Nigeria.
What is more? The el-Rufai goes on to infer that Bola Tinubu is a crooked election rigger who has sustained power in Lagos by suppressing the state’s votes by terror. Yet, he is pushing the same man for the presidency of the entire of Nigeria. Worse still, Nasir el-Rufai continues to dissociate the ruling APC and Tinubu from Buhari’s policies. Yet, he is demanding the total support of the same Buhari for Tinubu.
This unstable character makes people view every claim by el-Rufai with a grain of salt. But the very same psychiatrist would profess that beyond the façade of any recurring madness lies a semblance of sense that still qualifies such an individual as a human being. The simple import is that we must not always wish away every rambling outburst from el-Rufai as senseless. This point is that the man probably knew what he was talking about when he stated on national television that Aso Rock elements are working against Tinubu. Also important, the Kaduna governor noted that the decision by the Buhari people to root against Tinubu is informed by the president’s commitment to do what is right.
After watching a clip of el-Rufai’s outburst on TV, I quickly placed a call to a confidant at the Aso Rock villa. The takeaway is that the charge by the Kaduna governor has a ring to it: There is a serious concern with the Tinubu candidacy within the Presidency. “Baba may appear to be supporting him because they are in the same party, but his heart tells him no.” Here are the reasons deduced from the conversation:
1. Anti-Fulani Sentiments: A surprising concern is that Tinubu’s greed was responsible for the anti-Fulani sentiment that contributed to Buhari’s lack of popularity, particularly among the Southerners. There is a prevailing notion within the Villa that Tinubu has continued to play the victim in his relationship with Buhari, despite cornering most of the influential portfolios to his loyalists. This conflict with Tinubu, they claim, is what incited the Southern press against Buhari at an early stage of the administration and they never recovered. “Jagaban wanted more or less a co-presidency…As you may observe, he still refers to us as “they”… “He looks at us as people who owe him and do not want to hand him the presidency…Moreover, you ask yourself, why is a character like Fani-Kayode, an unapologetic Fulani basher, the face of the Tinubu campaign?”
2. Tinubu’s Health: Buhari recognizes that the challenges associated with old age or ill health do not augur well with the demands of the president. He is worried that Tinubu’s public outings do not portray a man who is physically or mentally fit for the presidency.
3. Corruption: President Buhari will forever be remembered with the quote: “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.” However, it has finally dawned on him that history will view him as a hypocrite if he has a hand in making Tinubu president. It would become the first time a man who is generally perceived to be very corrupt is sworn in as president of Nigeria. Take the 4th Republic, for instance. Like or hate them, from Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, to Muhammadu Buhari; no one could label any of them corrupt at the time of swearing in 1999, 2007, 2010/2011, and 2015, respectively.
4. Free and Fair Election: Tinubu was never Buhari’s candidate from the get-go. The president is aware that the former Lagos governor bought the presidential ticket, and he is counting on his financial power to win the general election. “The president is not happy about this, because he wants to be remembered like Jonathan for conducting free and fair elections. Now you see some APC governors want Buhari to extend the deadline for the old naira notes. Why do you think they are doing that? Jagaban is behind it all the way.”
Finally, there have been different reports, suggesting that Buhari sympathizes with the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar. But my Aso Rock source quickly dispelled such rumour. Buhari sees Atiku with the same lens he sees Tinubu, especially with corruption, ill health, and old age. “Baba has relationships with both Jagaban and Atiku, quite alright, but he has a conscience. He wants to do the right thing. You may see more surprises before the election.”
SKC Ogbonnia, a former APC Presidential Aspirant writes from Houston, Texas. February 13, 2023
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