Wednesday, September 9, 2020

OPINION: Two Sides of El-Rufai's Mouth, By Yinka Odumakin

The diminutive governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasiru el-Rufai, must have a very low opinion of the public. They are no more than stupid stuff and they is why he can afford to play silly pranks with their sensibilities.

If he does not see the Nigerian public as Almajiris, he would not take them for non-thinking people in front of whom he can spin contradictory yawns and they would not be able to connect.

In August last year, he made a persuasive case for Nigeria to forget about zoning in place of "competence" and "character". Don't ask him to define what those terms mean.

But partly to warm himself into the hearts of the unwary and to also give some distractions from the security challenges confronting the country at the time he has started another song on the same subject .

He made a case for the abandonment of zoning arrangements for political offices as currently obtainable in the country in writing last year. The governor made his position known in a prologue titled, ‘Defeating a Determined Incumbent – The Nigerian Experience’, which he contributed to a book – Power of Possibilities and Politics of Change in Nigeria – written by the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman.

"Even with our success in the 2015 elections there is room for improvement. Barriers to optical equality such as our seemingly entrenched though informal rule for zoning candidates to religions of origin, need to  ought to be de-emphasized and ultimately abandoned  in favour of an emphasis on  qualification, competence and character".

Those who can read him and not his words alone knew he was only talking about "competence" because of temporary advantage and not because of being broad minded. A man who openly confessed of "settling" killers of Kaduna people who are if a different ethnic stock could not rise to such higher ideals overnight .Only political buffoons would throw their thumbs in the air for him for his latest song when he said, "The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it.

“In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?

“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design should be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.

“In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational Presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested

“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational Presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.

“I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.

“But as a group, the Northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the South, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the Presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words.”

Those who are politically dumb will read this long turenchi and miss the key phrase which negates all the sound and fury "except for extenuating circumstance".

The short men you don't in the printed word will ensure just that happens to make "zoning" impossible. Which makes me pity those who read what people like el-Rufai say without reading the speakers.

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