A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has dismissed suggestions of a cold war between him and a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai, over the different positions they hold on the extremist Boko Haram sect and the vociferous campaign for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC).
Both former ministers, who were cabinet colleagues under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, were especially close, and had been some of the loudest critics of the present administration.
But a few weeks ago, the two politicians adopted parallel positions over how government should tackle the Boko Haram insurgency and whether an SNC is necessary for the country, sparking off suggestions nationwide that the two friends had fallen apart.
While Mr. El-Rufai advised the Federal Government to enter into negotiation with the extremist sect, Mr. Fani-Kayode described those advocating dialogue with the sect as having lost touch with reality.
Also, while the former aviation minister is rooting for an SNC, his friend believed a “sovereign” conference is not the panacea to Nigeria’s problems.
But in an exclusive chat with Premium Times Sunday, Mr. Fani-Kayode said their differences of opinion on issues “can never cause a cold war between us.”
He said, “It is true that we disagree on an issue or two. But we agree on 99 per cent of national issues and we both are striving for a prosperous and united Nigeria.
“Nasir (El-Rufai) is a strong and powerful intellectual. I have deep respect for him, and he respects my views too.
“We have deep, lively and serious discussions about our respective views before they even enter the public realm most of the time and where we do not share an opinion we simply agree to disagree. We even crack jokes about such differences once in a while. That is what intellectuals and civilised and enlightened people are meant to do.
“We certainly don’t fight over such differences of opinion and it is absolutely absurd for those who do not even understand the nature of our relationship to suggest that we are fighting over Boko Haram, SNC or anything else.”
The former minister continued, “Nothing, I say nothing can come between me and Nasir, Nuhu Ribadu, Akin Oshuntokun, Uba Sani and a few others.
“My relationship with these guys is not political and so, politics can never come between us. We are brothers. We have been close since we were in government and we have stuck together ever since.
“So those of you who are suggesting we are fighting can carry on wasting your time because you do not know what you are talking about.”