Atiku dismisses El Rufai’s book as “collection of lies”

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar said the controversial book is a mere fiction.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has dismissed former minister, Nasir El Rufai’s new memoir, which characterised Mr. Atiku as a corrupt power monger, who based his decisions on the counsel of fortune-tellers.

Mr. Abubakar said on Thursday the book’s accounts were mere “fiction, half-truths, exaggeration and reflection of selective memory.”

In a Facebook post, the former vice president said he is “amazed” by the claims, but would not be angered by them, citing Mr. El Rufai’s recent controversial Twitter post on Jesus Christ, as proof the former minister needs prayers instead.

“El-Rufai’s attack on my person is to say the least not surprising considering that this is the same man who has notoriety for disparaging religions and their icons, including lately, Jesus Christ,” Mr. Atiku said.

“If he could go to such irreverent extent to disparage religious icons, who is an ordinary mortal like me? It is my belief that any man that can cross the boundary of reason and decency deserves prayers rather than anger.”

Mr. El Rufai’s book, Accidental Servant Leader, has stirred immediate controversy ahead of its public presentation, with critical reviews of key politicians who served between the Obasanjo administration, which Mr. El Rufai served; and the Jonathan administration, which he has consistently criticised.

The book chronicled multiple abuses by officials of government and the ruling party; scheming for power, and betrayals by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr. Atiku, and current president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. El Rufai portrayed Mr. Atiku as an over-ambitious politician, who hoped Mr. Obasanjo would not complete his tenure, and attempted to manipulate influential power brokers, including former military head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, to back his ambition for the presidency.

Mr. Abubakar, in his capacity as the chairman of the National Council on Privatisation, also interfered with the privatisation process handled by the Bureau of Public Enterprise which Mr. El Rufai headed then, the book says.

At some point, Mr. El Rufai said he threatened to quit over the pressure.

In his reaction, Mr. Abubakar accused the former minister of lying and contradicting his earlier testimony before a senate committee, where the former minister absolved the former vice president of interfering with his work at the Bureau.

During an appearance before the senate privatisation committee in August 2011, Mr. El Rufai assured the lawmakers that the decisions taken during his tenure did not receive external influence.

“We took everything we did to the privatisation council,” Mr. El Rufai had told the lawmakers, “And I swear to God, I am under oath. Except for one time that the vice president called me and said; look I’ve got calls from A and B to help this guy win this, I said Mr. Vice president you know the rules, tell him to bid the highest price because the highest price wins and he said yes I know, I am just telling you in case they contact you.”

“And I don’t want them to say I didn’t pass on their requests. That was the only time. But no one tried to interfere with my work. There were attempts to block it. President Obasanjo blocked the privatisation of Nigeria airways practically. Okay because Kema Chikwe will go and tell him stories. And what is the result today. The company is dead,” Mr. El Rufai told the lawmakers.

Mr. Atiku also dismissed claims in the book that former president, Mr. Obasanjo, went on “bended knees” to secure his support for the 2003 election, saying the meeting was private and Mr. El Rufai could not have known what transpired.

“Such claim lacks any credibility because Obasanjo and I were alone together behind closed doors,” Mr. Atiku said. “I wonder whether el-Rufai was a fly on the wall to discuss the details of a private meeting between the two of us.”