culled from DAILY TRUST, November 7, 2006
It is amazing how some Nigerians arrogate to themselves the power of the almighty complete with the ability to foretell and control the future. Yet how deluded, short-sighted and downright ignorant they turn out to be, for the simple and highly clichéd reason that “no one knows tomorrow.
No one, that is, except one faceless writer, Jide Ayobolu whose crass writing defiled the prized pages of the highly-rated Daily Trust of Friday, November 3rd, 2006 ( http://www.dawodu.com/ayobolu7.htm ). He set out in the doggerel he penned to announce that he has been to God’s throne to find out that the minister of the Federal Capital Territory; Nasiru el-Rufai, will never become president. He tried to be a poor imitation of the real political seers in our society whose views are respected.
Jide, if he exists, must be fronting for the sacred cows not spared by the el-Rufai revolution. It is a manifest fact that the people mostly affected by the demolitions are the high and mighty who till recently got away with their impunity, erecting structures on sewage and buying up lands indiscriminately. These aggrieved fellas have targeted the minister for their hate and use every opportunity to heckle him. But to the minister’s credit, he has soldiered on without fear and continues to build up the FCT to resemble other great capitals of the world. Today, Abuja is playing host to thousands of tourists who have come to rate the city high in terms of its beauty and serenity.
In case you, dear reader, have not seen it, Jide’s write-up is everything but accurate. He stood logic on its head by mischievously raking up all sorts of inanities as the reasons for disqualifying el- Rufai. I would have allowed this imaginary Jide his right to sound off his frustration if I thought he said something worth hearing. He would have won me over to his side if he had advanced intelligent points and superior arguments on why he thinks the minister should not be his president. If he had raised researched debates on the performance of el-Rufai and the question of ability to deliver, I wouldn’t join issues with him.
But Jide merely appealed to primordial sentiments, talking about the victims of demolition as if el-Rufai is a heartless soul who gets a kick from watching destitute on the streets. If that was the writer’s objective to demonise the man, then he has failed because Nigerians by nature have a way of seeing through such puerile tactics. For somewhere in the sub-consciousness of Nigerians, they commend what el-Rufai is doing in Abuja. There are many people who feel the minister has had the courage and political will that his predecessors lacked in tackling the decay in Abuja. They secretly admire him for his pursuit of excellence and are proud that the city is gradually emerging as a first-class capital of an African country. That is leadership.
Inside them also, many Nigerians are willing to give el- Rufai a chance at sanitising the society. For beyond the demolitions lies the courage, strength of character, astuteness of a man willing to bear the pains that come with negative branding. Leading a nation is the job of people interested in pleasing everyone. Like Chairman Mao of the Chinese revolution, true leaders know they cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. That is the burden of leadership. It takes a real man to do what el-Rufai is doing at the FCT. In the past, it would have been business as usual. Abuja was fast turning into a glorified dump site before el-Rufai came around.
What about the horrible living conditions of the suburbs? Nigerians when left alone can be lawless and as a people we just don’t like to be asked to stay the course of discipline. And so, rules and standards are alien words to most of us. Take the seat belt thing, for instance. It took the persuasion of the road safety people to enforce it and even then with only small success. We hate to do the right thing. el-Rufai is thus a symbol of enforcing the right thing and I dare say that is what this country needs. The nation needs a surgeon who is not afraid of using the scalpel to root out a germ.
We need someone who can harness the human resources of this country and check its decay. We must have a president whose words are his bond and the FCT minister has demonstrated he knows how to keep his words. He showed it in his resilience and determination to change the FCT. You can accuse the minister of being overzealous but there is work to be done. Nigeria cannot advance without the energy and radical dynamism of men such as el-Rufai who has broken off from the tradition of tardiness.
Just as he halted the drift into the disintegration of the FCT, I believe strongly that the minister can extend that to the whole of the country. There is need for Nigerians to go back to the drawing boards and begin to implement the master plan envisioned by our founding fathers at independence. Only a visionary, articulate, mission-oriented, passionate and selfless person can do that. el-Rufai in the past years has shown he is not the everyday Nigerian: the typical corrupt and self-centred person.
In 2007, God must give us someone who can rally the nation and force it into glory. We need men of steel like el- Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu who, though young, are determined to make this nation proud. They are the new faces of hope, the glad noises of a rescue van and the types of leadership that will catapult Nigeria to the Promised Land.
This country cannot afford to go back and some of the presidential aspirants today are the same cancerous elements who led this nation astray. These are men without conscience whose understanding of democracy is to eat up everything in the treasury. Politics for them is an avenue to grab what remains of the nation’s till and walk tall among their people in flowing agbada, while starved folks chant “ranka dede” at them. But this will never happen again. Nigeria is on the move and no one can stop it.
Jide also spoke of the bribery scandal when el-Rufai was to be made a minister. So what about it? Is el-Rufai not vindicated concerning Ibrahim Mantu? Were Nigerians not amazed at the amount of filth surrounding the deputy Senate president during the third term debacle? Who would you rather believe today between a Mantu and an el-Rufai? In any case, does it not show strength of character to come out and expose evil? Was it not equally a rare demonstration of humility for the FCT minister to apologise to the senators when he told them the truth?
The next president of this country must combine most of the attributes of el-Rufai, and like I outlined, the person must be resolute, determined, result-oriented, cosmopolitan, intelligent and sound in his calling. It is astonishing that Jide, the armchair critic, cannot recognise these qualities in the FCT minister. But then again, it takes the third eye to see such things. Alas, Jide only sees in the natural.
Lawan wrote from House No. 14, Badarawa, Kaduna, Kaduna State.