Nasir El-Rufai: The perception and the reality


Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna state is a classical victim of the yawning gap between perception and reality. 

He furnishes a proof of the deep gulf between reality and appearance. Perception, like appearance, is deceitful, dangerously misleading, and extremely damaging. Unfortunately, these are two notorious words that have largely shaped the reaction of most traducers of El-Rufai. 

El-Rufai’s traducers are always in denial, even on matters as straightforward as the quantum of foreign investments that he has attracted to Kaduna state, and the improvement of internally generated revenue, from a paltry N12 billion in 2015 to N50.7 billion by 2021.

The naysayers often overlook the facts in front of their noses, and bury their faces in the sands of erroneous perception. Their spurious and laughable argument, is that due to the security challenges no investor will dare invest in kaduna state. Of course, nobody can deny the security challenges many parts of the country, Kaduna inclusive, are facing. That they  deny verifiable facts of Kaduna state’s  outstanding success in attracting foreign investments,  visible even to blind, is a clear evidence of the depth of the problem. 

The investments include, but not limited to, the commissioning of Olams Feeds, Hatchery and Flour Company, Tomatoes Jos, the Mahrinda Tractor Plant, and many  more. Unfortunately these investments, amounting to over 2.8 billion dollars, have not changed the opinion of hateful opponents.  Again, it’s a case of wrongful perception standing in the way of self-evident realities.

So very obviously, the attack on Governor El-Rufai bothers on a perplexing negative perception, as opposed to the reality. For instance, some of his rabid haters will swear by whatever they believe in, that he is a religious bigot, based on the continuous falsehoods dished out by vested interests. Again, the facts clearly prove otherwise. For instance, he never knew that Ibrahim, his late Aide- de- Camp was a Christian,until some self righteous people,angry that he was surrounded by too many Christians, brought it to his attention. But it  changed absolutely nothing,as Ibrahim remained his ADC,as Minister and in his first term as governor of kaduna State. Same with Peter, a perfect gentleman that has been his Personal Assistant and later  deputy chief of staff, for more than 30 years. There are too many other Christians around him, including Altine, the Director-General of the Kaduna State Information Geographical Service, from Adamawa State, that he dragged out of retirement,to replicate the success of the Abuja Geographical Services.

For some more charitable opponents, El-Rufai’s self-confidence is nothing but sheer arrogance, a tragic charge, because in reality, the man is humility personified. So many of those who loathe him, do so because they have swallowed the lies vigorously pushed out against him, hook, line and sinker. The other allegation, very closely tied to his alleged arrogance, is that he prides himself as having a monopoly of knowledge. Again it’s an allegation that falls flat, as times without number, he has publicly acknowledged “copying” some policies from left, right and center. Being learned, he can never claim to be all knowing, since only  God is. 

For instance, he publicly acknowledged copying his educational policies from Rauf Aregbesola, the former governor of Osun state. While, the public service reforms, have their root from Singapore, where an efficient public service made a huge difference. The only difference, is that El- Rufai as a good copycat, painstakingly improves on what he copies, and with the benefit of insight, avoids the pitfalls of those before him. Like the saying goes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

Clearly, El-Rufai has made enemies, very powerful ones, but all in the course of his public service. And it wasn’t as if he set out to make these enemies. But his policies  impacted negatively on the so-called enemies, who resorted to feeding the public the large doses of negatives, that have shaped their perceptions of him. 

His enemies are either those who have scores to settle, from his days as the Director – General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), or as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). El- Rufai’s high crime is serving with dedication and total commitment, which unfortunately many Nigerian public servants lack. 

The first group holds El-Rufai solely responsible for their failure to acquire any of the juicy privatized enterprises under the Privatization and Commercial programme of President Olusegun Obasanjo administration. While the second set are the so called  “victims” of his unwavering commitment to the  restoration of the Abuja Master plan, which had been bastardized beyond recognition. 

For nation that needs every hand on deck to develop, the implication of the concerted demonization of Nasir El- Rufai,  is not only that competent hands are forced to keep away from politics, but that charlatans will continue to run the country in their ugly image and likeness. There is also an alarming absence of elite consensus about the  direction the country should head, talk less of the medley of hard measures required to make things change for the better. China is an example of what a determined country can achieve based on elite consensus. In 40 years, it moved from a poverty-stricken country to attain first world status. In the process, they lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and made the country the second largest economy in the world.

Generally, Nigerians lack patience for the long term plans. They are ever always in a hurry. Nigerians clamour for development, but they seem to prefer the easy way out. They want omelette, but without breaking the eggs. 

Now, back to Governor Nasir El-Rufai. You’d ask, why is it difficult for people who celebrated his works in Abuja, to now make the necessary connections, and come to the realization, that the well-packaged negative narratives against him, originated from the dislodged mafia trying to get even with a man who has consistently given his all, in the service of his motherland? The answer is perception, because people want to believe the worst. 

El-Rufai’s other political crime was persuading then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari to come out from retirement and contest the 2015 elections, which led to the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan. Though from the South-South zone, the South-East had appropriated him. This is the fundamental reason El-Rufai is in the bad books of some people from both zones. The real first crime was giving life to the first ever successful merger of political parties, which led to the defeat of an incumbent government. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be a victim of an organized campaign of calumny.


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