A former FCT Minister and governorship aspirant for Kaduna State under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, on Wednesday slammed the national president of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, describing him as an “irresponsible” leader, who has abused his revered office by involving himself in politics.
El-Rufai was reacting to a statement by CAN’s Director of National Issues, Sunday Oibe, Tuesday, who accused some APC chieftains, notably the ex-minister and the opposition party’s spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, of blackmailing Oritsejafor because of his support for President Goodluck Jonathan.
In his response Wednesday, Mr. El Rufai said the CAN president is becoming “jittery” because his private jet was identified as the aircraft impounded by the South African authorities for ferrying $9.3m cash into their country for the purchase of arms.
Mr. El-Rufai also said after being unable to shake off his connection to the aircraft, the CAN leader has resorted to abuse and vilification.
“Were he more reflective, he would be pondering how, of all the private jets available in Nigeria, it was his that came to be involved in a covert arms purchase scandal.
“Would he have managed any objectivity if the plane involved happened to belong to a prominent person of another faith or political persuasion”, a statement signed by the former minister’s media aide, Muyiwa Adekeye, said.
Mr. El-Rufai also said the CAN President should explain if the jet involved in the scandal is the same one that was “donated” to him in 2012.
“Did he register it as a commercial aircraft or is the plane illegally moonlighting as one? Has he ever reflected on the impropriety of mixing his religious role with politics?
“Having strayed into politics, and an irresponsible variant at that, can he expect the veneration enjoyed by his predecessors such as Cardinals Olubunmi Okogie and John Onaiyekan?
“Why is he the first CAN leader to provoke pitiful mirth and amusement when he is not being derided as a tragedy, a sort of Ichabod, desperate to separate glory from a revered body?” Mr. El-Rufai said.
He also advised the cleric to “look beyond the bling to ask himself if it was any of the individuals he abused yesterday that asked him to make his aircraft available for monkey business, or get himself involved in the politics of division”.
The former Minister also advised the Nigerian government to act responsibly in its bid to procure arms to fight the on-going insurgency in the country.
“Our country needs to bolster its military and security forces with the material resources they need to defeat insurgency and restore security to every inch of its territory.
“This would require arms imports. But should Nigeria violate the arms export regulations of other countries in this endeavour?
“Should the FG recklessly impair and jeopardise diplomatic relations by conducting covert arms purchases in friendly countries without the consent of their governments? Such conduct invariably leads to suspicions that such covert arms procurement may not be for purposes of national security”, he said.
Mr. El-Rufai said arms procurement outside official channels amidst an escalating insurgency must concern every patriot.