An attempt by Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai to rubbish the contribution of the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the Southwest to the success of the party in the 2015 presidential election has drawn the ire of many Nigerians. They condemned the statement, which he made in a memo to the President, describing it as reckless. Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN reports:
MONTHS after it became a public document, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s secret memo to President Muhammadu Buhari continues to generate controversies. He is said to be trying to belittle the significant role played by the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in President Buhari’s victory in the 2015 presidential election.
El-Rufai had in a controversial memo addressed to Buhari created the impression that Tinubu and his group from the Southwest have blown their contribution to the APC victory out of proportion. He stated in the memo: “The Lagos group, more or less led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is the most organised and proactive. This group made a key contribution in our electoral success, but like all groupings, it naturally exaggerates its role in order to increase its influence in the coming administration. The group will use the media to promote its own “GMB Boys” or suggest Northerners of their choice that they think would do their bidding.”
To lend credence to his assumption, El-Rufai alleged that “some already are boasting that they will choose the next petroleum minister and the executive leadership of the NNPC. They will seek direct control or great influence over key economic portfolios, including agencies involved in revenue generation (NNPC, FIRS, Customs, etc.) law enforcement (Attorney General, EFCC etc.) and financial services regulation (CBN, SEC, PenCom etc). This group will seek an alliance with some GMB family members to help strengthen their pre-eminent position in these areas”.
Nigerians are unanimous in condemning El-Rufai’s attempt to rubbish the contribution of Tinubu in formation of APC and its victory in 2015; and for trying to sow the seed of discord between the North and the Southwest that came together for the first time to rescue Nigeria from misrule and inept leadership.
Elder statesman and Afenifere leader Senator Ayo Fasanmi could not understand what El- Rufai wanted to achieve with his memo. He said it is absolutely impossible to write the history of APC, its formation and registration without mentioning the significant role played by Tinubu. He cautioned the Kaduna State governor against making ridiculous statements and urged him to face the business of good governance to restore peace in his state.
Fasanmi said: “Without the combined efforts of Tinubu and other progressive leaders, the story of APC could have been different. The position we find the country in which President Buhari is fighting corruption with vigour would not have existed.
“It does not matter where the president comes from. What should be our concern, I mean the progressives in this country, is how to move the country forward, which I believe is the concern of President Buhari and the leadership of the APC. I wonder why the likes of El-Rufai should be making statements that could cause division, not only within the APC, but the country as a whole.
“Nigeria must come together to rescue the country; support the administration of President Buhari in his tireless efforts to restore normalcy to the polity and reposition the country.”
A lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Monday Ubani, said El- Rufai was not sincere with his claim over the contribution of Tinubu to APC victory in 2015. He said: “El-Rufai has a very bad mindset for making such a statement. I respect him as an intelligent person, but he is very treacherous and not a sincere person; he sees himself as the Alpha and Omega. There was no way Buhari could have won, if he had gone it alone; it was Tinubu and the Southwest that made it possible for him to win”.
Ubani said Tinubu played a great role in the amalgamation of legacy parties and the emergence of the APC. “He made sure Buhari emerged as presidential candidate and won the election. Asiwaju sacrificed his personal ambition for Buhari to emerge as President after two unsuccessful attempts.
“It is true Buhari has credibility, but if he didn’t market it well, he can’t win. Tinubu and the people of the Southwest did that for him. He became popular in the South for the first time. El-Rufai’s memo cannot undermine the significant contributions made by Tinubu and Southwest.
“Let me say for record purpose that President Buhari has never forgotten the contribution of Asiwaju; he said it privately and openly that, without the support of Asiwaju and Southwest, he couldn’t have won the presidential election.”
Afenifere scribe Chief Seinde Arogbofa was disappointed with the El-Rufai’s comment. Tinubu, he said, unilaterally led the Southwest to Buhari’s camp and wondered why the governor would undermine his role.
Arogbofa said: “It was not too long ago that many people frowned at the treatment being meted out to Tinubu in the APC because we thought whatever may be his shortcoming, he didn’t deserve such treatment from a party he laboured to bring to power.
‘’Tinubu was a force in APC. Although, different political groups came together to form the APC like Action Congress of Nigeria, led by Tinubu, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Buhari’s CPC. But, the most crucial factor was that of Tinubu in making Buhari president.But for Tinubu, the success story would have been otherwise.”
Lagos State APC Chairman Otunba Oladele Ajomale said Tinubu was the brain behind the formation of APC, adding nobody can take the leadership of the party from him. He said the ACN which, Tinubu led to the negotiation table for the formation of APC, was a senior partner. “We went there with six governors, the highest produced by the parties that merged to form APC,” he stressed.
Ajomale recalled that Asiwaju started crusade for the power shift, saying that he should not be rubbished. “Whatever you do you must reap the fruits of your labour,” he said.
He lamented some leaders were trying to put things right, few are trying to create problems within the party to truncate APC’s plan for the country.
El-Rufai’s political rival, Senator Shehu Sani, also had harsh words to the governor.
Sani, who represents Kaduna Central in the Senate, said it was unfortunate that El-Rufai who, smiles with Tinubu during the day light, stings him at night. He described the governor’s act as sad, unfortunate, perfidious and the height of ingratitude.
He added: “We must accept the stark truth that without Tinubu and the principled position of the Southwest, dislodging Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling PDP could have still remain a pipe dream, a hollow hope or a political mirage.El-Rufai defecates on a broom that is supposed to clean the littered floor of the nation.
“President Buhari is the heart of APC and Asiwaju is the lungs. Tinubu’s contribution to the success of the party is unequalled. El Rufai smiles with Tinubu broad day light and stings him at night. He hugs Tinubu with a chest of hooks and shakes him with toxic palms.
“El-Rufai should publicly apologise to Tinubu and the Southwest. To insult a man publicly and apologise to him privately is to eat your cake and have it. Those heavily drinking from the liquor of power should know that they will later or lately have to drive back home.”
Source: The Nations