By; SADIYA ABBA
Just before now, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the North’s best friend – politically speaking. But from the point he started attacking influential Northern political leaders like Governor Nasir el-Rufai, I knew he would suffer a slip in popularity.
I read somewhere that his comments against Kaduna’s Governor el-Rufai has angered key politicians in the country, especially those in the Northern parts.
Looking back at the political history of the North, elder politicians are handled with care because the political culture of the area is guided by respect for elders. This is one environment where, when you disagree with political leaders you do so politely.
And in this clime, you don’t suppress opinions or others’ rights to such an expression. It is on this premise that Governor el-Rufai set the tone for building a new national political culture that would make the democratic space open to suggestions for reforms in tune with the reality of our political firmament.
What the Kaduna Governor was saying, in my mind’s eye is that expanding the frontiers of right of choice for Nigerian voters is feasible and practical.
He proceeded to use his own State as a classical example of its workability. He did not mention names or singled out anyone. It was a general recommendation on the way out of imposition in Nigerian politics.
The fact that he made the comment in Lagos, as some conspiracy theorist would have us believe, is no less different from making the same statement in Zamfara or anywhere else.
It’s all about a better Nigeria under the democratic system. It does not really matter where the Kaduna offers his voluntary advice on how to sanitize the democratic space. Those who thought he made the advice to spite anyone are conspiracy theorists, cashing in on a situation to score cheap points.
What seems to be el-Rufai’s Lagos declaration was therefore an innocent voluntary advice. The governor would have been a beneficiary of godfatherism too, but as a realist he chose the appropriate democratic path of non- interference with voter’s rights.
el-Rufai conducted free and fair Local Government elections with pioneer electronic voting system and even lost some Local Governments and refused to subvert the voters’ will. On a lighter note, he cued to vote and rejected offer to jump the cue and vote early because of his status as governor of Kaduna State during the 2019 polls at his Unguwan Sarki Ward.
And I wonder why the deperation to suddenly pull the blind wool over the people’s eyes by Tinubu’s media attack dogs, who unleashed torrents of damaging newspaper articles and unverified news as a means of giving it back to the man for his innocent remark.
For now, it will not be easy to revive the gradually waning popularity of Tinubu in the North. The assumption now is that the Lagos political giant has goofed in a hurried attempt to score a political point by taking on the most vocal Northern governor of our time.
Someone should advice this National Leader of the ruling party to return to his Northern friends, make amends and move on. Otherwise, his current political fortunes are on a man-made downward slide.
And a waning popularity for any politician is injurious to political fortunes he has built overtime. It is my conviction that it’s not late to take the appropriate steps, first my stopping the anti-elRufai media campaign by subjective columnists and spread of unverifiable news against el-Rufai.
One example of such fake news was the latest one spun by Tinubu’s media outfits, that el-Rufai had wanted to become Chairman of Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF) and was holding nocturnal meetings with PDP members of the Forum a few days ago, when the governor has since travelled out of the country.
This desperation to use media against the man by fabricating stories smacks of a veiled attempt to drag an institution of public service into self-serving political calculations.
I just hope the forces behind Tinubu boys attacking el-Rufai would have by now learnt their bitter lesson in avoidable instigation and the attendant provocation. I’m also happy about el-Rufai’s exemplary style and maturity, in not dragging the officials of his government – not even his media aides – into the smear campaign of the Tinubu boys. This is itself an eye-opener. Whoever has ear let him hear.
Sadiya, a public commentator, wrote from Garki in Abuja
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