Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, has been criticized by the Director General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Balogun Akin Osuntokun, as the proverbial leopard that cannot change its spots.
In reaction to the Kaduna State Governor’s attempt to minimize Obi’s chances in the 2018 Presidential elections, Osuntokun made this statement.
In a statement released on Thursday in Abuja, the Campaign DG noted that El-Rufai is an advocate of racial and religious bigotry. Under his watch, hundreds of law-abiding citizens were murdered by bandits in Kaduna.
He claimed that El-historical Rufai’s antecedents as an ethnic and religious bigot who is the driving force behind the weaponization of religion in Nigeria’s politics was saddened by the Kaduna State Governor’s attempt to paint Peter Obi with the brush of ethno-religious prejudice.
Osuntokun said, “It is ironical that a man who tags the Labour Party (Obi) with the tar brush of ‘ethnicity and religious bigotry’ is the leading light if not the evil genius behind the weaponization of religious cleavage indicated in the Muslim/Muslim presidential ticket of his political party.
“This has been the template he brought to Kaduna State politics. And he has a long tendentious history of this behaviour.
“On January 28th, 2013, El-Rufai tweeted that ‘if Jesus criticises Jonathan’s government, Maku, Abati or Okupe will say that he slept with Mary Magdalene”.
“On April 6, 2016, he said “Here in Kaduna we have a significant Muslim majority, 70 percent and 30 percent Christian minority” Recall how he similarly (at his latest outing) denigrated ‘Christian enclaves in the North but how many are they?
“At the height of the devastation of Southern Kaduna by the Fulani militia, his arbitration was that “tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost”.
Continuing he said, “Another feather to his cap of unrestrained notoriety and bellicosity is not limited to Nigeria. Knowing fully well that a free, fair and credible election (and as attested by foreign observer teams), was not in the interest of his party in the 2019 general elections, he issued a threat to the latter on the eve of the elections. ‘Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags.
El Rufai enjoys the dubious distinction of duplicating the carnage and festival of bloodletting on Kaduna State what his principal has visited on the larger Nigeria community in the past seven years.
“This is a governor who should hourly beseech the mercy and forgiveness of God for the calamity he wreaked on a segment of Kaduna State populace.
“That such a mouthpiece of the disastrous stewardship of the APC should presume to pontificate and cast aspersions on someone with a vastly superior record of public service is the height of insolence and impunity.“
He questioned how a political heavyweight like Obi could be denigrated as a candidate for Nollywood if, as El-Rufai spitefully acknowledged, and assuming but not acknowledging that Obi will sweep the South-East and do well in the South-South and the Christian North.
In contrast, no Nigerian politician, living or dead, possesses a comparable level of political sway in the South and the Middle Belt, according to Osuntokun. I want the public to be understanding and show the greatest respect for their memory, but neither Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, nor Awolowo had a similar status.
“It is in recent memory that El Rufai was one of the star proxies of their presidential candidate who couldn’t speak for himself at the Chatham house – to the humiliation and disgrace of Nigeria before a bewildered international community.
“Between El-Rufai and the many independent polls that indicated Obi as the frontrunner, who should we believe? He really ought to be more concerned at the tragic roadshow the campaign of his party’s candidate has become.
“Of the present cast of presidential candidates, especially between Obi and his presidential candidate, who best personifies the Nollywood world of make-belief whereelse but in movies would anyone speak in tongues of the blu blaba boo variety? Or remind us that contrary to street side common knowledge, Atiku Abubakar was indeed ‘Senate President’, not Vice President?
He pointed out that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory has become the classic pathetic case of hysterically pointing at an illusory speck in another man’s eyes while his eyesight is playing host to a conspicuous log.
Osuntokun said, “Though it is in character, it is nonetheless uncharitable of him to denigrate our Nollywood actors.
“They have contributed more to our nation’s greatness and promise than some politicians whose legacy is crisis, unnecessary controversies, and preachment of belligerent confrontation.
“The good news of Obi’s emergence is that win or lose, he has fostered a seismic change in the political configuration and culture of Nigeria. It is the dawn in which El-Rufai and the retrogressive forces he represents are going to be on permanent disorderly retreat. God does not start a project He cannot finish.”
Remember that in a broadcast interview El-Rufai called Peter Obi a Nollywood candidate, saying, “He (Peter Obi) will sweep South Eastern States, he will do well in the South-South States, he will do well in the Christian enclaves in the North, but how many are there…ethnicity and religious intolerance is what the Labour Party is about… He isn’t doing well anywhere else, save from a dip in the ocean of Lagos, in the South-West. All of Anambra’s votes are cast in only one Kaduna local government.”
Actors from NollyWood and other Nigerians who felt hurt by his comments reacted angrily to him.