Presidency and El-Rufai in war of words

The presidency has clashed with a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and now chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nasir El-Rufai, after Mr. El-Rufai accused President Goodluck Jonathan of playing ethnic and religious politics.

The presidency said in a statement, that the former minister was a well-known liar whose comments about the president are ”untrue” and bear better description of Mr. El-Rufai himself.

“That El-Rufai is not above lying to the media to achieve his political objective was proven in Segun Adeniyi’s book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’ when El-Rufai was quoted to have confessed in the presence of multiple witnesses who are still alive today that “There was no cabal, we created the myth to neutralize Turai”. El-Rufai sold Nigerians the dummy of a Turai cabal which was a lie used to further his own political ends,” the statement said by spokesman, Reuben Abati, said.

“In any case, we have a record of what El-Rufai truly thinks of President Jonathan from the leaked secret diplomatic memo from the U.S. embassy in Abuja which revealed that just before the April 2007 Presidential election El-Rufai had told the then U.S. ambassador to Nigeria that the then Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was “clean and honest”.

The statement followed an earlier response on Sunday also to a leader of the newly-registered APC, Bisi Akande, who dismissed Mr. Jonathan as an “unserious president” who runs a “kindergarten presidency”.

Mr. El-Rufai’s comment came on a radio program in Kaduna where he said Mr. Jonathan had a penchant for stirring religious and ethnic consciousness whenever faced with a serious national issue.

“It is the political strategy of Jonathan to always use ethnicity and religion whenever there is a problem.

“Whenever there is a big issue about excess crude account or subsidy issue, they bring this issue of ethnicity and religion. But I have not lost hope because I know that Nigerians can see through their pranks and their game and will vote them out in the next election. The challenge for the next president is to build trust among the various ethnic groups so that Nigeria can walk towards one direction,” the former FCT minister said.

“This country has gone through one Civil War; I don’t know of any country that can survive two civil wars and those that are stealing crude oil; buying and stockpiling arms should know it is not the number of arms you have that decides who wins a war.

“I know that Nigeria will survive these bad and incompetent leaders, who steal during the day and drink and womanize at night instead of working for the Nigerian people.”

But the presidency dismissed the claims about religion and ethnicity.

“For instance, the Muslim Ummah just emerged from the Ramadan fast and the President, though a Christian, joined them in fasting and severally broke the fast with Muslims at the Presidential Villa,” the statement by Mr. Abati said.

“Also, in the history of the existence of Nigeria as a nation, no leader has spent the quantum of funds that President Jonathan has spent on education specifically tailored for Islamic itinerant scholars known as the almajiri. In the composition of his cabinet, the President has appointed Muslims into sensitive positions and ensured a balance that has been commended by many in the Islamic fold.

“But it is most curious that this allegation is coming from Nasir El-Rufai, a man who profaned the name of Jesus Christ on Twitter by tweeting a joke which is too indecent to mention in the presence of civilized persons. This same El-Rufai is the same man who in June of last year claimed that Christians were behind the bombings of their own churches rather than terrorists and were doing this to further a Christian agenda.”

The statement also accused Mr. El-Rufai of contradicting his earlier claims about former military head of state whom he once said was “perpetually unelectable”.

“It is only a measure of his inconsistency that El-Rufai is today accusing the Presidency of being afraid of General Muhammadu Buhari whom the same El-Rufai said was “perpetually unelectable””, the statement said.

“In fact, the accusation El-Rufai is now making against the President is precisely the same accusation he made against General Muhammadu Buhari on October 4, 2010 when he said Buhari’s “insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known”. Today, El-Rufai is serving this same Buhari.”