In the coming weeks, Nigerians should expect to see more fireworks as “The Accidental Public Servant”, a memoir written by former FCT Minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai was yesterday presented to the public. It is bound to elicit heated debates and refutals from the actors involved. Already, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the accuracy of the contents of the book which contains disparaging remarks about him, Atiku.
In a statement by his media office, Atiku accused el-Rufai’s of writing fiction for self-glorification at the expense of truth and dismissed the book as “a collection of fiction, half-truths, exaggeration and reflection of selective memory.”
The statement took exception to el-Rufai’s claim that he had almost resigned as the former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) because of alleged persistent pressure and interference by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who was then the Chairman of the National Council on Privatization.
The statement refreshed the FCT Minister’s memory to what he said at the Senate Public Hearing on BPE August 8-13, 2011. It recalled el-Rufai as saying that he had special relationship with former President Obasanjo, which gave him direct access and the discretion to bypass the Council on Privatization headed by Atiku in order to get the approval of the President.
The Media Office wondered how el-Rufai could reconcile his threat of resignation with the accounts he told the Senate about the degree of freedom he enjoyed at BPE because of his closeness to former President Obasanjo.
“In that testimony, el-Rufai told the Senate that, and we quote: “Thank you very much Distinguished Senator. Mr. Chairman, as a matter of principle Mr. Chairman, I am reluctant to judge my successors. So, whenever I do a job, I move on; I don’t comment on what my successors have done. All I can say is this. Mr. Chairman, if you go through my tenure in BPE, you will see that we try to do everything by the rules, by the book. And we resisted every attempt at political interference. There is a process; step by step. Privatization is a mechanical process. Once you have the process published, every step should not be missed. And there was never a time that we deviated from that process.
“We took everything we did to the privatization council. That’s how we ran the place. And I swear to God, I am under oath. Except for one time that the vice president called me and said; look I’ve got calls from A and B to help this guy win this, I said Mr. Vice president you know the rules, tell him to bid the highest price because the highest price wins and he said yes I know, I am just telling you in case they contact you. And I don’t want them to say I didn’t pass on their requests. That was the only time. But no one tried to interfere with my work. There were attempts to block it. President Obasanjo blocked the privatization of Nigeria airways practically. Okay because Kema Chikwe will go and tell him stories. And what is the result today. The company is dead.”
On the claim by el-Rufai that former President Obasanjo went on bended knees before former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to seek his support for second term bid in 2003, the statement dismissed the claim as a figment of el-Rufai’s wild imagination. It said such claim lacked any credibility because Atiku and Obasanjo were alone together behind closed doors and that they alone knew what actually transpired between them.
The statement said the former Minister should have provided or quoted the authority for such claim since he was not at the private meeting between former President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar and wondered “whether el-Rufai was a fly on the wall to discuss the details of a private meeting between the two of us.”
The statement noted that “El-Rufai’s attack on my person is to say the least not surprising considering that this is the same man who has notoriety for disparaging religions and their icons, including lately Jesus Christ.
“If he could go to such irreverent extent to disparage religious icons, who is an ordinary mortal like me?” Atiku queried.
According to the statement, “any man that can cross the boundary of reason and decency deserves prayers rather than anger.”