I have one request to make and Allah is my helper. Any attack on Nasir el Rufai or on Nuhu Ribadu is an attack on me. Nasir is to my mind is one of the greatest and most patriotic Nigerians to have served in public office and he is by far the best FCT minister we have ever had. Like all of us he is not perfect.
In my AIT interview I said I agreed with 90% of what he said a day before our interview and the two bits I didn’t agree with I stated: I don’t agree that there is no subsidy and I believe Nasir was quoting contributions from trusted experts which have been flying around recently including Prof Tam David West.
And we have debated this issue of accounting and economic concepts in this forum. I also do not agree that it is easy in the short-term to have massive fiscal retrenchment without a huge political backlash-indeed the fuel subsidy is one such case and retrenchment for instance would also bring people out.
But Nasir is one person for whom I have always had the highest level of personal respect. His integrity is beyond reproach-of course, people will say anything but after years of trying no one is yet able to show any evidence backing up allegations. Intellectually, I am yet to know anyone who can match him and this has been the case since the 1970s. Femi Fani-Kayode has written in Nasir’s defence but these are not Nasir’s words and if you knew Femi well you would not be surprised or bothered by his peculiar choice of language. I have seen Femi transit from a rabid ethnic chauvinist and christian fanatic who thought Obasanjo was a stooge of the backward Muslim north, to a minister in Obasanjo’s cabinet preaching national unity, and now to some freelance activist and public commentator.
This is just a stage he is going through but I like to think he means well. When AIT requested me to speak they never said it was to respond to Nasir and when we started and they played their clip we told them we didn’t want to personalise this. Nasir and I were friends and brothers as teenagers. We have remained friends and brothers and will remain
friends after office.
We don’t have to agree 100%. He also understands that so long as I am in government I have 100% loyalty to the president. If I feel I cannot be loyal I should step down. This does not mean supporting every policy but it means standing up to play my part in doing what is good for the economy.
I, therefore, request please that no one defending me should attack his person. And only those who don’t know Nasir will even think I am his intellectual match- he is just exceptional in his brilliance.
PS: Femi Fani-Kayode’s response to this piece is here