[Lai Labode Leadership Circuit] Nasir El-Rufai: Accidental Public Servant or Accidental Politician?
While we must acknowledge and appreciate efforts by many political actors of the Obasanjo years to document their activities while in offices of public trust , we owe it to ourselves , our people and history to dig deeper into the core of what the motivation of these exercises might be especially when there is still a lot to play for politically by the authors .
I am definitely not one of Mallam Nasir el-Rufai biggest fans but i can not help but admit that he is one of Nigeria’s best known socially relevant intellectuals in his own right . I also know that documentations of this nature are hardly ever written purely for academic purposes . Politics is surely in the bag , either way , the work is desirable .
In the last week , at least five friends and a number of political associates have asked me what my thoughts are on Mallam Nasir’s TAPS . While I tactically avoided answering the question before i finished reading the book , I have been particularly impressed with the interest of many young people in documented accounts of key players in NIGERIA’s democratic years under President OBASANJO .
While some of my friends berated Mallam Nasir for being too self righteous , some others talked passionately about his achievements as minister of FCT and as Chairman of BPE , some others contend that irrespective of whatever he wrote in his new book , Mallam unfortunately has very low electability coefficient and would most probably make a better social critic than a politician .
The first time I read a tweet from the ever present Omojuwa on Mallam El-Rufai’s much anticipate book , I started looking forward to a controversial accounts of Malam El-Rufai’s role in the Obasanjo years in power , an abundance of explanations of the rationale behind his actions and a spirited justification of those rationales . I have not been disappointed. I have started to look forward to Mallam El-Rufai’s full fledged entry into Nigeria’s Political Intellectual Arena . I have no doubts that the reactions , responses and rejoinders to TAPS will inspire Mallam to write another book in no distant time .
One thing I however agree with in all I have heard and read so far on reactions to TAPS is that TAPS surely chronicles a struggle between the life of a politician and that of a social critic whose eyes are still firmly on the prospects of a chance to serve again. The combination of politics and the life of a social critic can only be but complicated .
I had not read up to fifty pages of the book when I made up my mind to Commission a completely independent and unemotional research into the activities of all the members of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet during his eight year rule . I feel a compelling need to document an unbiased opinion for the benefit of our people and history .
Mallam El-Rufai’s TAPS irrespective of its motives and expectations unwittingly challenged anyone interested in public service to dig deeper into the workings of our political system . It’s lies , half truths , fictions , conspiracies ,betrayals and achievement are all a part of the wheels that keeps our democracy going .
TAPS is definitely a rich resource base for friends and enemies of Mallam El-Rufai . The book opens a floodgate of issues that cuts across an entire system that everyone agrees needs reforms . I have no doubts that Mallam Nasir cannot escape some of history’s ugly submissions if he must share in history’s finest verdicts of the OBASANJO years.
While Mallam El-Rufai may hope that more people would believe he was telling the ‘whole story’ to primarily document events that can provide a resource base for aspiring administrators in terms of the possible challenges of public service , he also unconsciously opened a new window for better examination of his character as an administrator and as politician vis -a -vis his interactions with other key players in the OBASANJO years .
In my humble opinion , Malam El-Rufai is by every means is one of the finest administrators this country has seen , his personal inadequacies not withstanding , he represents an intellectual force that exhibited the better of his prowess in the best days of the undeniably eventful President Olusegun OBASANJO Years .
Many have questioned Mallam’s political intelligence by contending that Mallam El-Rufai is too short eyed in the management of political relationships which they say relegates him almost permanently in the class of those whose best days politically may find itself harder to come than easier to flourish again.
I do not think it is good enough to question Mallam’s political intelligence without attempting understand what in our individual opinions he set out to achieve and what he actually achieved with his controversial book .
While I am eager to share a detailed opinion or review on TAPS , my intellectual instincts cautioned me against immediate reaction until I had done a little more research on a lot of the submissions made in the book , my political instincts however encouraged me to let out a little of my thoughts about the political character of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and set the stage for my up coming review of the book .
Mallam El-Rufai’s political character as deduced from TAPS in my fallible political opinion can be summed up in the following four broad headings ; The first is understandable Instinctive Self Preservation , the second is Political Animosity for known and perceived persecutors , the third is Positioning for History’s favorable verdict and the fourth is the ever desirable window of political opportunity to serve again.
The book began with Pastor Bakare’s expected attempt to introduce a ‘politically flawless ‘ politician in the person of Mallam El-Rufai that showcases the best of selflessness in Nigeria’s history of public administration . Pastor Tunde Bakare may have fallen short of a good enough attempt by his non-acknowledgment of Mallam’s inevitable political flaws which would have added more credibility to his submission . Pastor’s Bakare’s foreword was based clearly on some personally processed facts / opinion and some heartfelt obligation to be politically on the same page as his younger friend ,fellow political co-traveller and fellow social critic . I have no doubt that Omojuwa would have done a more receptive job. I can however live with the choice if the rationale behind Mallam’s choice is to find higher profiled personality that understands him ‘better’ personally and will be willing to defend the postulations in the book more enthusiastically .
I dare say that by the time the season of first level analysis of TAPS is over , it would have inspired more intellectual contribution to Nigeria’s evolving political landscape from many ‘concerned’ parties in the Nigerian political terrain .
Just before my full analysis comes , i have an advice for those who read . Look out for Madam Obi Ezekwesiki , Madam Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala and Andy Uba’s account of the Obasanjo years . Save up for them if possible !
“Politics is too uncertain for both the wise and the foolish” LL
Lai Labode , 24th Feb 2013
Lai Labode is the CEO of Salt & Einstein Ltd. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School
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