Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has refuted the allegation that he bit the fingers that fed him by criticizing former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, in his book, The Accidental Public Servant.
The former director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), who spoke withSaturday Sun in Abuja, questioned the rationale behind such notion, saying that Atiku didn’t make him the person he is.
The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said he was already a self-made man before he came into government, saying the insinuation that Atiku made him is utter nonsense.
In this interview with AIDOGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja, the former minister also gave reasons he has persistently criticized President Goodluck Jonathan, even as he spoke on the prospects of the newly registered APC, former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari as his best presidential candidate for 2015, while also taking a swipe at the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, whom he said, is the propaganda chief of the PDP. Excerpts…
Your book, the Accidental Public Servant, has continued to generate controversy. How do you feel each time any heat comes out of it, like in the case of Professor Soludo who fumed over the book?
When you write a book that is 700 pages long and most of the dramatis personae are still around and alive, you would expect some of them to disagree with your version of events. That is normal. You will expect some of them that have political aspirations to get angry because they have been represented as being less than perfect. That is understandable. What I say to all these people is, write your own book, write your own version of what happened and let Nigerians read both and judge. I don’t think that was unexpected at all.
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, felt indicted in the book. Did you set out to smear his name or you wrote exactly what took place?
I tried to write exactly what took place because I think that Nigerians are entitled to an inner picture of their leaders and how ordinary they are, with their flaws, as well as their strengths. But I can understand if the former vice president does not like it because some of the things in the book are not things that most people know about him that are negative. But there are many other things about him in the book that are positive that also came out. But of course, he didn’t see that. As I said, people with political ambitions don’t like to be portrayed accurately because it brings them out as human. They have flaws, as well as strengths and they don’t like to present themselves as part or devoid of any flaws because they are looking for your votes. But what I wrote in the book is what happened when I was in government and I felt that it was a duty to Nigerians to have a picture of how their government runs so that we can all learn and improve it in the future.
Some said your account of Atiku in the book was like attacking the man that made you. What is your take on that?
Those that said that because Atiku played some role in getting me appointed in the BPE, are wrong. I was bound by my oath of office which pledged allegiance not to any human, not to even the President, but to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, when he is wrong, I disagreed with him. And it was so when I was in government and it will be so for the rest of my life.
So, you disagreed with him while in government?
Oh yeah! Even with Obasanjo. If you read the book, you will see many areas we disagreed. Those of us that were in government then knew the position that some of us took on many issues. We disagreed with even the President. The perception that because you are in government you can’t disagree with your boss is flawed. We disagreed vehemently on many issues with our leaders and we told them so.
Prior to reading the book, there was this issue that it was through Atiku that you met Obasanjo. It was after reading the book that I discovered that you were even part of the team that briefed Obasanjo before he was sworn into office.
(Cuts in) Look, the Atiku Media Team, is very good at repeatedly, repeating a lie so that it becomes the truth. How I met Obasanjo, how I met Atiku, is all in the book and whatever people write that departs from that narrative is false. That is it. Part of the reason I wrote the book is to correct some of these stories. But the most important reason really, is for Nigerians to know how their government runs.
But some are of the opinion that because of the role he played in your life, you ought not to have criticized him in the book.
That is a wrong conception. First, what role did he play in my life? Did he educate me? Did he give me my skills and my abilities? It is utter nonsense. All right? I was already a self-made man when I came into government. So, nobody can start boasting that he played a dominant role in my life. We all get to where we are with the intervention of others. So, I am not denying that Atiku played a role, but what role? And does that mean that I am his slave for life? Does that mean that when he does something that is unlawful, I will not complain? Or does that mean that when he does something against the overall interest of Nigeria, I should accept it? That is utter nonsense and it is that kind of sycophancy that draws Nigeria to where it is.
When a leader is wrong, you tell him and if he doesn’t like it, let him fire you. But none of them fired me even though consistently, I told them where I disagreed with them and where I felt they were wrong. So, all those people that are making noise don’t even know what happened. Those that were in government with me at the time, know who I am. Those that were ministers at the time we were in government, they know who we are and they know what we stood for.
So, those who are trying to dismiss the book are just mere jokers?
They are side kicks in the whole arena. They were not there. There is no one who sat at the table with us when we were making these decisions and advancing these arguments that have come out to say that what I wrote there is not true. None! Only hired hands of politically, ambitious people. That is all.
What is your present relationship with Atiku? Do you still talk?
It is in the book. The last time I saw him was in November 2009, in Dubai.
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