Re: Between el-Rufai and free speech

“War without end.” – Unknown

Sun Tuz was a brilliant military strategist. But to the bewilderment of historians, Tuz was so preoccupied with finding ways to avert war, that he was tagged a pacifist. Tuz is credited with securing countless victories without having to wage a war. In “The Art of War”, Tuz admonished warmongers to “appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”, a confirmation of his cherished strategy that the “wise warrior avoids the battle”, unless it becomes absolutely unavoidable. Bola Ahmed Tinubu a presidential hopeful on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform, would do well to arm himself with the seminal works of Tuz, if he is to rescue what is left of his presidential ambition, which seems already in tatters, because of the “Area Boy” strategy he has seemingly adopted.

The media empire of Bola Tinubu has consistently waged a concerted media war against Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna state Governor, who they perceive as a stumbling block to the presidential ambition of their principal. From Idowu Akinlotan’s  “The Waspish El-Rufai”, Festus Eriye’s “El-Rufai the godfather slayer”, Segun Ayobolu’s “El-Rufai’s thoughts and non – thoughts on godfatherism” to Sam Omatseye’s  “A Divider In Chief Of Kaduna Politics – El-Rufai double talk” the vexatious news  reports and articles are what Akinlotan was frank enough to describe as reactions to “Nasir El Rufai’s inflammatory remarks against the “National Leader” of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu”. The Nation columnists and reporters deserve credit for fighting real and imaginary battles of their master, thus disabusing the assumption that the media can be neutral and confirming that serving the interest of the public is most often secondary.

On September 15, 2019 Barometer in the article “Between El-Rufai and free speech” continued from where the others had left off , in what clearly is a “war without end” strategy of “containing” and ultimately forcing El-Rufai to abandon any interest in the presidency. Though El-Rufai has not indicated interest, it would be naive for anyone to conclude that at the appropriate time and all things being equal he won’t exercise his constitutional right to run or not to run for the presidency. It’s clearly lack of knowledge about El-Rufai that makes some motor park strategists believe that he can be persuaded by rough tactics to jettison the idea. But assuming without conceding that the motor park strategy works and El-Rufai is forced not to run, it’s safe to conclude that Tinubu won’t be getting the support of Kaduna state which is firmly in El-Rufai’s control. Tinubu, the celebrated “strategist,” obviously hasn’t given this some hard thoughts.

What triggered the latest volley of unwarranted attacks from Barometer, The Nation newspaper columnist, was El-Rufai’s matter of fact statement at the public presentation of “Digital Wealth” by the blogger, Japheth Omojewa, that henceforth the Kaduna state government would diligently prosecute any purveyor of fake news, especially if the tweet, re -tweet or the Facebook fake posts lead to loss of life or breakdown of law and order. Rather than condemnation, El-Rufai deserves praise for upholding the rule of law, and for not resorting to self help, like some other governors are wont to, and for his manifest faith in the judiciary.

In the warped opinion of Barometer, enforcing the law amounts to destruction of the “foundations of democracy”. For the benefit of Barometer and his likes, El-Rufai, it must be restated, ran for the governorship of Kaduna state on a strong law and order agenda, based on the Rule of Law- and not might. This explains why he sent packing the “big men” who had shamelessly appropriated school lands and paid compensation in cases where the occupiers had valid allocation from previous governments. He has also implemented the reports of commissions of inquiry into the various communal crises, as a deterrent to those who would want to take the laws into their hands, believing that as in the past they can get away with blue murder.

Late Robert Kennedy eloquently made the point that “every community (country) gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.” While it might be okay for Lagos state where Barometer resides to condone fake news, Kaduna state based on real time experience of the consequences of fake posts would definitely not tolerate them, the point El-Rufai stridently made and for which he owes Barometer no apology. El-Rufai hasn’t in anyway appropriated the powers of the judiciary by declaring the likes of Chidi Odinkalu who clearly crossed the red line guilty, rather the Kaduna state government has painstakingly made its case against him and others whose actions on the net has precipitated or escalated communal crisis in the state to the law enforcement agencies whose duty it’s to investigate and prosecute.

Following series of fake posts by “social media activists” and the traditional media about events in Southern Kaduna, there were unpalatable reactions, which if the other parts of the state had retaliated, Kaduna state would have certainly witnessed several civil strifes, which going by previous incidents would definitely had affected other parts of the country. In the specific case of The Vanguard newspaper reports for which Luka Binniyat and Audu Maikori are standing trial, it was without doubt the mother of fake news. The Vanguard reported with certainty the purported killing of some students of the Kaduna State College of Education, Kafanchan by Fulani herdsmen. Audu Maikori, a popular music promoter, amplified the false report that led to increased tension. Refuting the report, the college asserted that the “report was fabricated by the reporter to compound the security situation in the state.”

Barometer like many other uninformed commentators without facts made far-reaching conclusions on Suleiman Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani. Had Barometer bothered or cared, he would have confirmed that El-Rufai lost several cases at the state high court and like the democrat that he is, he appealed them. About Hunkuyi and Sani, it’s a shame that in order to achieve some political objectives Barometer would turn facts upside down, maybe because Hunkuyi and Sani at the behest of their Lagos based political master displayed an amazing lack of respect for the party that made them and for the leaders of the party including the president, to the applause of the likes of Barometer. Seeing the handwriting on the wall they both decamped and were roundly trounced in the 2019 general elections. Pity that these are they men Tinubu is building his project on.

Ado writes from Kaduna.

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