The governor of Kaduna State, and some may say de facto prime minister of Nigeria, Nasir el-Rufai took to Twitter on Independence Day to highlight what he termed: “The APC/PMB change we voted for”.
He listed the costs of Independence Day celebrations for the past five years:
2011 – 13bn naira
2012 – 15bn naira
2013 – 14bn naira
2014 – 22bn naira
And now with “change we voted for” with the All Progressives Congress and President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) in office, we have an austere Independence Day celebration budget of 70m naira.
For starters, the profligacy of the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan is worthy of condemnation. A single dime shouldn’t be spent celebrating “independence” in a country that continues to confirm its descent into failed statehood. Such backslapping frivolity by the Nigerian ruling elite smacks of Emperor Nero fiddling while the country is literally burning. Yesterday there were three suicide bomb attacks by Boko Haram in the outskirts of Maiduguri and a raid against some villages in Adamawa State, with multiple fatalities.
But why did el-Rufai fail to disclose information about the costs of Independence Day celebrations from 2000 – 2010? From 2003 -2007 he was the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he now claims the APC has saved Nigeria from. The Olusegun Obasanjo administration that el-Rufai served in was just as profligate and corrupt as the Jonathan administration.
A Senate committee investigation in 2008 found that 32bn naira ($217m) was missing from the accounts of the Federal Capital Territory when el-Rufai was minister. The Senate also stated that: “We came to the inevitable conclusion that Nasir el-Rufai is not a fit and proper person to hold public office in a democratic set-up.”
El-Rufai fled Nigeria in 2008 after he was accused of corruption in the allocation of land in Abuja. While cooling off in London, the former minister was able to pay £10,000 into the account of a female friend to help her with stuff she was shipping to Nigeria. In recent years, photographs of his son Bashir flashing pound notes have surfaced online.
So it is a bit rich (pun intended) of el-Rufai to be trying to paint himself as an agent of “change” and a prudent protector of public funds.