El-Rufai and Asari Dokubo: Who is better?



Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Deputy National Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Malam Nasir el-Rufai, over the weekend on Sahara TV said that he cannot be compared to Niger Delta “militant”, Asari Dokubo. He buttressed: “Asari Dokubo is a thug. I do not compare myself with thugs. I have never taken arms against a state. I have never stolen crude oil. I have never been called a militant. I’m a normal human being like every other Nigerian.”

The deduction could hence be made that el-Rufai is convinced he is better than Dokubo. To him there are no grounds for comparison. Maybe, what makes him assume he is better is because he was once a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the mirror from which el-Rufai sees himself, he thinks he is better than Dokubo. Nevertheless, a big chasm exists between how someone sees himself and how people see the person. At the end, what matters is how people see a person. Our leaders live in a fool’s paradise, where don’t care how ordinary Nigerians see them. As I have said in this column before, notwithstanding how our leaders see themselves, no matter what office they hold or have held, and no matter how many national honours they share among themselves, what counts is how Nigerians regard them. This is what will last immortality, since power is transient. In this regard, the story of Nelson Mandela is very instructive.

Not open to dispute is the fact that contrary to el-Rufai’s assertion he is not like every other Nigerian. Though it could be conceded to him that unlike many Nigeria leaders he has some principles. However, the bottom-line remains that he is part of a greedy Nigerian elite that shortchanged a generation. As a former FCT Minister, he was one of those who masterminded a federal capital which lacks a human face. Abuja remains the only capital city in the world, where the ordinary people have no place.

El-Rufai may fancy himself now as a critic, but his past (especially being part of the regime of former President Obasanjo) will continue to haunt him. Even if you cloth a wolf with sheep’s clothing, it remains a wolf.
It might be that el-Rufai is craving to become a better person or that he is obsessed with the desire to carve a new niche for himself politically. This is a legitimate aspiration for any citizen of the Republic. However, you don’t get better by talking other people down. At the end, one is judged by the life he has lived and what he has done and not by what he had said.

El-Rufai calling Dokubo a thug is recklessly unguided. A politician ought to choose his words. It is only in Nigeria that politicians think that they can climb up the political ladder by running their opponents down. This is the problem I have with the APC. Yes, Jonathan is a bad president. APC leaders and members don’t need to tell Nigerians this to win the 2015 election. What Nigerians want to see from them is what they can offer in the alternative. They will never win the presidency merely by criticizing Jonathan, even when it is unnecessary.

Nobody is perfect; Dokubo has his excesses. His inflammatory outbursts are quite unhelpful. Even so, like Dokubo or hate him, the truth remains that a cross section of the country sees him as a leader. So when you call him a thug, you are also insulting these people.
It is hallucinatory for el-Rufai to think that he is better than Dokubo. Unlike, el-Rufai, who played his part in the shortchanging of a generation, Dokubo shunned his middle-class background to fight for the common man. Today the people in the Niger Delta are better off due to the struggle championed by him and his ilk. An Ijaw man will never have been president if not for that struggle. Yes, they took up arms.

Former late American President, JFK Kennedy was right when he said: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Many terms have been used by the oppressors to label people fighting to free themselves from oppression. Such includes terrorist, rebel, thug, militant etc. Mandela was once described as a terrorist by the white oppressors. History later exonerated him and other noble people who fought to free Africa from colonialism. These present times will surely pass. History will surely pass its judgment on el-Rufai and Dokubo. At the end one cannot be compared to the other. But certainly history will definitely tell who is better.

For me, the Niger Delta was only a noun until I visited the region five years ago. I was shocked to see the severity of the injustice meted to the Niger Delta people. Despite the fact that the wealth which sustains Nigeria comes mainly from that part of the country, the place was like a wilderness. It is a wound on the conscience of the nation. Certainly, someone who fought and put his life on the line to correct this injustice cannot be called a thug.

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