Engage Nasir el-Rufai on the issues, please!


By Kennedy Emetulu


Anybody who cares knows I’m not a fan of Nasir el-Rufai. I have never had anything good to say about him, because at the core of most of his public actions is that deceitful, pompous, self-serving disposition and a sense of entitlement that rule the minds of the worst we’ve ever produced in public service. However, I’ve been following the furore generated by his analysis of Anambra’s budget and developmental agenda, including Governor Peter Obi’s response to him amongst others. So far, I’m highly disappointed in the responses to el-Rufai.

No matter what el-Rufai’s true motives are and no matter our views of him, one thing that cannot be denied is that his public engagement of this type has elevated issues to the fore, rather than personalities. There was nothing personal against Obi in his piece and there was nothing insulting against the people of Anambra. He just has a view on developments within the State and he deployed statistical information to pass a not-so-charitable verdict. What I expected those challenging him to do was go out there and investigate his statistics and their sources and get their own statistics countering him, if they think his statistics are suspect, including making better contextualization of his comparisons. But all the personal attacks without addressing the substance of the debate do not help their case one bit.

Governor Obi’s response wasn’t stellar, but it was by and large a measured attempt at addressing what he considered to be the misinformation in el-Rufai’s piece. Discerning people reading both of them can reach their own conclusions, but it’s worth observing that Obi’s response sounded rather trite and detached. It did not effectively address el-Rufai’s comments pointedly on the issue, except list what he considered to be his government’s achievements. A rebuttal needs to do more than that.

All in all, I personally believe Obi should heed some of the advice given in the piece and try to do his best to leave a better development legacy than he met. He will be doing so irrespective of the fact that the advice is given by someone who could not walk the talk as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, someone whose service record is as tainted as the worst of them. What matters is that the right thing is being done, even if the advice is coming from the wrong person. Indeed, crucifying el-Rufai would be counterproductive. Rather, he should be praised for engaging in politics of issues, rather than personalities and should be carpeted for using wrong statistics, indices or analyses where found to be so. But all the ethnic jingoism and unfounded accusations should stop. He’s a Nigerian and entitled to express himself on state administration or governance at any level.

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