Opinion (19/7/2021): How Did Vanguard Adjudge Gov. El Rufai Nigeria’s Governor Of The Year? – By Steve Osuji

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MEDIA: MUTILATED AND MUFFLED… Someone once said that wherever a society is in decay, take a look at the press, it’s most likely to be dead.
A sense of rigour mortis is what one gets today of the Nigerian press. As the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el Rufai stepped on the podium on Saturday to be honoured with the award of the BEST GOVERNOR IN NIGERIA, by a national newspaper, VANGUARD, one’s heart bled!
It’s trite to recall that the media is the society’s watchdog; its gate keeper, standard bearer and indeed, soul and spirit.
The media is so important that it is referred to as the 4th Estate of the realm. It’s duties to any country, especially Nigeria, are so crucial that they are clearly enshrined in the constitution.
Why then has the Nigerian watchdog morphed into a tail-wagging puppy looking longingly at the master’s table to let drop some crumbs?
It’s bad enough that media houses in Nigeria are daily hawking feel good awards and honours to persons and institutions they ought to be sniffing at and monitoring closely. But the honour and recognition showered on Kaduna Governor El Rufai must be considered a blatant crossing of the red line.
The Editorial Board and Management of the VANGUARD, a national newspaper of about four decades standing owes Nigerians explanations as to how the Kaduna governor merited the honour bestowed on him.

THE CURATOR OF A KILLING FIELD…
In fact, as the governor and his wife stood on the podium, under the klieglight and getting smothered with encomium, his people were at the same moment addressing the press and tearfully drawing the attention of the world to the alleged killing fields Kaduna has become under Governor el Rufai’s charge.
Samuel Achie, President of Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA) in Southern Kaduna told the press how only five days ago, on July 15th, suspected Fulani militias invaded 12 villages in the Zangon Kataf LGA and slaughtered 42 membwrs of his people in cold blood, razed 338 houses and left a trail of destroyed properties and hundreds of displaced persons, especially children, women and the elderly.
According to Achie, the mayhem meted on him people is complete and resolute:
“Our revered places of worship were not spared as seven churches and their pastorium were razed.
“Among the houses raised by the militia are the family compound of our paramount ruler, HRH, Sir Dominic Yahaya in Magamiya, and also the Abuyab family compound of retired Maj. Gen. Shekari Billiyock, former Commandant of the Nigerian-Africa Peace Keeping Force, ECOMOG.”
The Atyap people who are peasant farmers cannot go to their farms anymore for fear of being killed; all schools are closed and burgeoning IDP camps are unattended to.
No government officials have visited and none of the perpetrators was arrested.
This has been the trend and pattern of events since el Rufai took office as governor of Kaduna State in 2015.
It is estimated that over 3000 people have been killed in el Rufai’s six years in office. None of the perpetrators of endless bloodshed has been prosecuted.

BITING THE NOSE TO SPITE THE FACE…
This is why many are of the opinion that someone aids and abets the rampaging Fulani militia. In many places in Southern Kaduna, indigenes have been sacked only for their homestead to be converted to grazing grounds.
To further buttress the charge that someone is fuelling the crisis, he is said to have dredged up the 1992 Zangon Kataf crisis which had long been forgotten, ostensibly to punish the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna who embarked on an uprising against oppressive Hausa settlers about 20 years ago.
Another grouse against the governor is that for the first time in the history of the state, he shunned ethnic and religious balancing in the State cabinet. For instance, both the governor and his deputy are both Muslims, in repudiation of the diverse nature of the State.
Apart from the problem of Southern Kaduna which predates his era, though vastly escalated in his time, el Rufai has been defined in the last two years by the crisis arising from his attempts to effect a mass retrenchment of the civil servants in the State.
It is reported that thousands of workers were billed to be laid off in one swoop and this has pitched him in a vicious face off with the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC.
One hardly hears of el Rufai commissioning a project or celebrating an accomplishment. If he provides any dividends to his people, it is never highlighted. All the news emanating from Kaduna is about bloodshed, kidnappings, crises and more crises. And it gets worse each year.

UNYIELDING, HEEDLESS AND OBDURATE…
He has not helped his cause of course. He has consistently presented a public persona of an unyielding, heedless and cantankerous character who knows it all and must be worshipped by all around him.
Where a team is required, where elders or stakeholders would do the job, he would rather display a fanatical obduracy which sets everyone on edge and keep well meaning people away.

UNSTABLE GENIUS?
There’s no doubt that the Kaduna governor is a brilliant head. At the Bureau for Public Enterprise and the Federal Capital Territory, where he held sway, he shone like a northern star. He can be indeed credited for remaking Abuja into the the aesthetic metropolis it is today but that may be because he operated a taskforce system like a military administrator.
But a State is run by collegiate consensus if you must get the buy-in of major stakeholders.

VANGUARD ASSAULT OUR SENSIBILITIES…
It is from the foregoing that VANGUARD’s award of BEST GOVERNOR to el Rufai assaults our sensibilities to no end. The daily slaughter, the victims of kidnappers, especially school children; the hapless people abandoned in IDP camps and the mass of harried workers would probably curse the platform that bestowed honor on their tormentor.
VANGUARD owes an explanation to them, to the media fraternities and to all Nigerians…
HOW DID VANGUARD ADJUDGE EL RUFAI NIGERIA’S GOVERNOR OF THE YEAR?

– Osuji is a respected veteran journalist

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