by Paul Onomuakpokpo
Carl Von Clausewitz has an ardent disciple in Nigeria. Clausewitz was the Prussian general and military strategist who theorised that war is an extension of politics by other means.
But Nasir El-Rufai who is evidently enamoured of this theorisation has reformulated it to suit his condition.
Obviously encumbered by his lack of access to an arsenal to prosecute his political war, the Kaduna State governor might have appropriated demolition as a form of war to extend his politics.
Remember, El-Rufai came into public consciousness in the days of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as president . Above the din of wailing and protestation, he was hailed as the fearless restorer of the Abuja master plan as he rolled out bulldozers to pull down buildings that in his estimation conflicted with the architectural vision of the capital city.
Then, not much store was set by the protestation that El-Rufai’s zest was vitiated by an absence of altruism. But what was probably kept securely for almost two decades is becoming clear to the citizens – that after all, El-Rufai might be propelled by a need other than that of serving the public.
Or why did El-Rufai choose to count himself among those who have not appreciated the overarching need to review the polity in a manner that the purpose of good governance would be better served? Through El-Rufai’s strident opposition to restructuring, he has opposed the common good. And we cannot regard the position of his political party’s committee he leads which supports restructuring as his personal position.
Indeed, it is because of his pedigree as an arch-enemy of restructuring that many people find it difficult to overcome their doubts about the sincerity of the committee.
Before then, El-Rufai declared himself the enemy of the common good by saying that he financially induced foreign herdsmen not to unleash further carnage in Southern Kaduna for an egregious injustice meted out to them. Not for him the more patriotic path of arresting these self-confessed murderers so that they could be duly punished after prosecution by the state.
It seems we are confronted with a case of a public servant who did not prepare for what his office entails. El-Rufai himself has described himself as an accidental public servant. In that case, he might have forewarned us that it was only circumstances that threw him up for positions that his ill temperament and lack of broad vision hallmarked by its capacity for accommodation render him ineligible to occupy.
This hostility to opposing views that conduce to the good of all was demonstrated just on Tuesday by his demolishing a building to further his political objective. El-Rufai deployed bulldozers to pull down the factional headquarters of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The building in a posh area of Kaduna belonged to Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi and it housed the secretariat of the factional Kaduna Restoration Group headed by Danladi Wada.
In trying to justify the demolition, El-Rufai rather exposed himself to excoriation by letting the bewildered citizens to identify his real reason for this tragic highhandedness. El-Rufai through the director-general of the Kaduna Geographical Information Service declared that Hunkuyi had not paid ground rent since 2010. And after demolishing Hunkuyi’s house, El-Rufai appropriated the land as a public park .
Despite El-Rufai’s efforts to defend his excesses, it is clear that the demolition is a product of his inability to rein in his obsessive intolerance of opposition within his political party. What clearly riles El-Rufai no end is that the factional party had the temerity to suspend him for six months for anti-party activities.
By this demolition, we are faced with the stark reality of the politics of El-Rufai that reeks of a fixation on permanent enemies. This politics is marked by its hostility to reconciling with those who disagree with him in his party. For him, the best response to Hunkuyi was to destroy his building housing the enemies’ office.
What stops him from deploying this strategy to win over his enemies such as Shehu Sani with whom he has been embroiled in a seemingly eternal bickering? Or is it only presidents that El-Rufai kneels down for?
Now, let’s make allowances for the validity of El-Rufai’s grouse. But these questions then arise – should the presumed offence attract this deleterious response? How much is the ground rent owed the state government that equals the cost of the building? What is the evidence of the state government’s previous efforts to make Hunkuyi pay this ground rent? Clearly, in resorting to self-help, El-Rufai does not model respect for the nation’s judiciary.
In this regard, it is not enough for Hunkuyi to say that he has forgiven El-Rufai. The governor’s action must be subjected to judicial scrutiny.
After all, as Hunkuyi also revealed, his bleak lot is a fallout of the demolition spree that El-Rufai has launched to consume the property of his enemies . In this misguided campaign, El-Rufai attempted to destroy another house of Hunkuyi some months ago until he was resisted by the residents of the area. But according to Hunkuyi, he succeeded in demolishing the house of the APC Northwest Deputy National Chairman, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir .
Thus, if there is no legal action to restrain El-Rufai, he would continue in his impunity. This definitely should not be among the cases that Bola Tinubu should resolve quietly as ‘ family affair.’
Again, we must take cognisance of the fact that by El-Rufai’s action, he has shown that he has not been able to engender good governance in the state. For, it remains a very remote possibility for opposition to him to brew in an environment where the lives of the citizens have been dramatically improved by the polices and programmes of his government.
If El-Rufai had done well in Kaduna, he would have been the one pleading with the people as they insist on attacking the enemies who want to disrupt the good governance that has become their lot under his leadership.
But we must also note that El-Rufai’s lawlessness is by no means different from that of his party at the federal level under Buhari. After all, El-Rufai is said to be one of the closest allies of Buhari who is a redoubt of capricious and parochial politics. The president brooks no opposition. A case in point is his bid to paralyse the businesses of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar because of his interest in contesting for the presidency in 2019.
Instead of hunting his perceived or real enemies, El-Rufai should use his time to provide good governance in Kaduna. The citizens are not interested in his fighting his political enemies.
All they need is a peaceful environment where they can live without the spectre of attacks from officially protected killer herdsmen and salvage their economic fortunes that have been battered by either by the outright torpidity or the misbegotten policies of El-Rufai’s party at the state and federal levels.
- This piece was written by Paul Onomuakpokpo/Guardian