El-Rufai: Peeing inside Goodluck Jonathan’s tent

Olumide Iyanda

Buzz by Olumide Iyanda

Email: oiyanda@yahoo.com Twitter: @mightyng

Olumide-IyandaWhen faced with the choice of removing John Edgar Hoover as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), President Lyndon B. Johnson of the United State of America said “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent p***ing out, than outside p***ing in”.

Johnson was famous for his colourful language and the word he used rhymes with kissing.

That was in 1971, and Hoover, who was appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 aged 77, had become a controversial figure in Washington and beyond. Critics accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI, using it to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders and to collect evidence using illegal methods.

The FBI director served under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. Johnson didn’t particularly like or trust him, but he knew it was safer to keep him in the corridors of power than to throw him out.

President Goodluck Jonathan, like every other smart politician, must appreciate the wisdom in Johnson’s statement above. And you must give it to the Nigerian leader; he has travelled as far as his legs, presidential jet and social media to can carry him “keep his friends close and enemies closer.”

Two of the “enemies” Jonathan inherited from his predecessor, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, were pioneer Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu; and former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai. Both men were untouchables during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s time in Aso Rock. They were so powerful that some referred to the duo as de facto vice presidents after Obasanjo erased his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, from his good book.

The coming of Yar’Adua saw however Ribadu and el-Rufai leave their respective positions in circumstances that still rankle with people in certain quarters.  They both went back to school or what some people have termed self-exile outside the country.

If interviews and articles could kill, Yar’Adua would have died from the shots fired by Ribadu and el-Rufai, but the President died of other causes on May 5, 2010.  Jonathan, who was rightly seen as a continuation of the Yar’Adua administration, was warmly received at first but has managed to become the targets of written and verbal attacks even by ordinary Nigerians who campaigned for him.

Ribadu contested against Jonathan in the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), but with his appointment as chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF) earlier this year the former EFCC boss is more inside the tent than outside. El-Rufai, though, has remained outside and is doing more than p***ing in.

What started, according to el-Rufai, when “Umaru Yar’Adua went after me with a vengeance because he thought I was taking a break to contest in 2011” has snowballed into a bitter war between the former director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the current occupier of Aso Rock.

If truly the social media has become a scourge, then very few people have deployed it to a more effective use against Jonathan than el-Rufai. The President’s handlers may have arrogantly and ignorantly claimed that he brought Facebook to Nigeria, but his steady loss of goodwill has made him the butt of cruel jokes and insult in cyber space. That platform on which Mr. President officially declared his intention to run in the 2011 general elections has been taken over by the former FCT minister and his sympathisers.

Perhaps, Aso Rock needs to be told that many of the people who pay el-Rufai attention and are now on his side were among those he once said “had night vigils and prayers in churches and mosques against me” while he was a powerful member of the Obasanjo kitchen cabinet and demolishing houses in Abuja. Some of them have in the past also asked him about FCT land allocation and the privatisation programme while he called the shots as DG of BPE.

Surely, the man who returned from self-exile in November 2009 didn’t leave office as FCT minister on 27 July 2007 smelling of roses, neither has his dumping Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wiped out all his past political “sins”.

People have simply bought into the former Demolition Man’s crusade because Jonathan is no longer the man they used to know. The once popular Mr. President has made many enemies he does not need among Nigerians, and many now stand outside with el-Rufai p***ing inside Aso Rock.

  • This article is adapted from a piece originally written in 2012