Context is everything in order to arrive at a fair conclusion about a man’s true intentions. According to the Vanguard newspaper, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, has told his critics at a Town Hall Meeting to “go and climb Kufena Mountain, fall and die” if they felt so strongly about his appointments. I understand that the reporter that sent this story was not personally present at the Town Hall Meeting. He didn’t get the story first hand. However, whatever may be the case, my interest here is to explore the background to the angry words of El-Rufai.
On the surface of it, this fiery statement or outburst may sound politically incorrect. But which kinds of critics did El-Rufai have in mind when he reacted angrily? Was he seeing beyond the “innocuous” question a complainer at the Town Hall Meeting was asking?
When a man stands up and alleges that “his people” are underrepresented in El-Rufai’s government, what exactly does that mean? Does El-Rufai’s cabinet provide any solid and irrefragable evidence of underrepresentation of anybody, any group, or any of part Kaduna State? If you didn’t get all the appointments you had wanted for your people but still got some, does that mean exclusion?
If a Governor appoints his personal aides from members of his campaign team, even if some happen to be non-indigenes, does that amount to injustice against the voters? If he rewards his campaign team members, would that be a bad idea as long as the political appointments are reasonable fair? Why should a Sokoto man fight Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for making Imam Imam his media adviser on the ground that the appointee is an indigene of Zamfara State? If El-Rufai’s core political appointments such as commissioners have not ignored or overlooked the interest of all sections of Kaduna State, would there be a valid basis to cry out about marginalisation?
We should not rule out mischief in the attitude of people who may hide behind being critics to spread fear, suspicion, acrimony, division and distrust among others out of ulterior motives.
Setting one group against the other to serve selfish motives is toxic to the conditions for the growth of good governance.
Reform policies usually expose the rot in the system, and people that derive advantages from the rot may hide behind their grudges to make things difficult or unimplementable for the reformer by spreading mischief.
Governor El-Rufai would naturally be hostile to people who are all out to throw a spanner in his works, people resistant to his reform policies, who would do anything to turn the people against him by spreading falsehoods.
Inciting people cannot be part of constructive criticism. Before El-Rufai came in, millions of local government funds were going into the private pockets of individuals in the name of patronage, and they were getting this largesse for doing nothing. Any reform-minded leader determined to stop this waste of public funds is bound to fight grim battles against vested and entrenched interests who have no vision beyond their pockets.
These vested interested would take advantage of anything to discredit the reformer, even if it means spreading division to distract him. The recent nomination of Ministers was their long-awaited opportunity to unleash their anger against him. They alleged that he brought Amina Mohammed from Gombe State to represent Kaduna State Stare as Minister, but it turned out to be a baseless allegation.
El-Rufai’s Hausa/Fulani critics would normally go in the background and incite southern Kaduna people that Nasir is bringing a non-indigene against your interest.
It wasn’t by accident that the petition against Amina Mohammed was spearheaded by a Southern Kaduna Senator and an NGO. But the petition turned out to be like fighting an imagined enemy. Amina Mohammed said she never told anybody she is from Kaduna State, even though she was married to a Kaduna State indigene.
How could you write a petition against an issue that never existed? A prominent figure in the petition against Amina Mohammed and El-Rufai embarrassed himself at the Senate when he admitted that he read the allegations of her nomination to represent Kaduna State on the social media!
When people desperately try every dirty political trick to fight you, even if it means spreading mischief, deliberate falsehoods and division to create problems for you, in order to torpedo the ship of reform, we can understand why El-Rufai is so angry.
He believes there are people in both APC and PDP who are out to sabotage his reform agenda for selfish reasons, people who cannot put the higher interests of Kaduna State above their own.
His angry words should be understood within the context of this frustration.
No reasonable politician should tell voters to go to hell or go and die. On the contrary, to be a case of El-Rufai vs The Elite, and not El-Rufai vs The Voters or versus the people. The overwhelming majority of the people of Kaduna State is behind him in the implementation of his reforms. But there are selfish people who will stop at nothing to throw a fly in the ointment of his reforms. If you are dealing with people who seem determined to undermine your best efforts to make things better, you might sometimes be driven so nuts that you find yourself telling your selfish opponents to go and hang. In this context, El-Rufai was not being rude to the voter, but talking to mischief makers in the language they can understand.
Finally, let me end this analysis with a famous quote from the Irish poet Oscar Wilde, who said: “A cynic is a person who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” People with these mindsets should not consider themselves as constructive critics. If you say it is impossible to be accomplished, don’t disrupt the man who is already doing it. Critics that pander to people’s ethnic and religious emotions, demagogues that seek relevance by dividing people for selfish reasons are like a spoke in the wheel of good governance.