Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has given a rare insight into his very close relationship with late President Umaru YarAdua.The former minister who spoke in an exclusive interview with Newsdiaryonline.com in Abuja said despite his closeness to the former president, and quite contrary to earlier impressions,he did not expect to be part of YarAdua’s government . He had his personal plans which he told YarAdua about.
Strangely, his relation with the former president turned sour so much so that the former president wanted him dead, the ex minister said.
Given the the knowledge of how closely himself and Nuhu Ribadu ,former EFCC Chairman worked to ensure YarAdua’s victory during the Presidential elections, El Rufai was asked why did the relationship with the late president turn so bad that he had to go into exile?
El Rufai replied “I honestly don’t know for sure.I can only tell you all the snippets I have heard because one of the things I had to do was to try to figure out why,what happened to YarAdua?What did I do wrong?You know because as a human being, I must open myself to learning what did I do wrong?What did I do to offend this man that he would want me dead,because YarAdua wanted me dead.It was that bad.”
He added :”I had very reliable information from very senior security sources that there was a point at which if I came back to Nigeria,I was not going to be left alive,I was going to get killed.It was that bad and the person that told me is not a flippant person and he was well connected in the administration. And I had to ask myself so, why,what happened? This man that I had seen like someone like an elder brother from 1972 when I first met him. What happened? What did I do wrong? So to try to find answers to that question, I had tried to speak to many people that were close to YarAdua in his presidency. Many that were his advisers, many that were his minister ,some governors like James Ibori .I went to visit James Ibori in Dubai prison to ask him precisely that question. As YarAdua confided in you as to what I did to him?
Asked what did Ibori say? El Rufai launched into an amazing revelation of the snippets of information he has pieced together. The former FCT minister said , “I will not be specific but let me tell you the two or three stories I have heard.Some people in th YarAdua circle said Obasanjo told YarAdua to be very careful of Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir el Rufai.That we were stubborn and we were going to give YarAdua problem.So YarAdua felt the need to take us out,because Obasanjo sort of scared him into that we ‘d be threats to him.Now,I don’t buy that.I don’t buy that because I knew for sure that it was not everything that Obasanjo told YarAdua that he did.So,if he picked and chose what he wanted to do,why did he pick and choose this to go after me or after Nuhu?..It wasn’t like Obasanjo tells YarAdua go to the toilet and he does and so on.So for me, even if that is true and I doubt it,I still hold YarAdua responsible because he took his action,he chose what to act upon and what not to act upon.
“The other one we’ve heard was that YarAdua just felt that Nuhu and myself were too visible and we thought too much of ourselves.That Obasanjo gave us too much lee way and we had become national figures and he just felt threatened by us and he felt the need to clip our wings.But I was not in government.I was not even in the country when all these things started.When the public hearings that he sponsored against me in the Senate started, I was in London trying to complete my law degree.I came back just to appear before the committee .I was not even I the country.So how could someone that has left the country and minding his own business be a threat to you. You understand,of course Nuhu was here and doing his job.So perhaps Nuhu appeared as a threat. But I didn’t see us, I didn’t see me as a threat.The third one that we heard which to me is probably more believable because it made more sense knowing YarAdua and his links to spiritualists was that a particular spiritualist that YarAdua listened to a lot told him that a certain person that is slender,wearing glasses,whose name starts with the letter N was going to run for president in 2011.And YarAdua thought that must be me,because there were also stories going round then,even when YarAdua picked the nomination forms that Obasanjo considered me or him in the final shortlist.I don’t think it is true .As far as I know, the people on Obasanjo’s final shortlist were YarAdua,(Ahmed )Makarfi and Abdullahi Adamu.These were the three I knew that Obasanjo was actively considering when it was clear he couldn’t hand over to (Peter)Odili.But Odili was his (Obasanjo’s) first choice.These we knew.All of us in the government, we knew.Okay?So I don’t think my name ever came into any shortlist.But YarAdua must have heard that and now, a marabout telling him that somebody whose name starts with the letter N was going to run for president in 2011 ,was going to challenge him.So he felt that he needed to go after us.To go after me and may be Nuhu,because Nuhu’s name starts with N too.And maybe the marabout was right afterall because in 2011,Nuhu Ribadu ran for president.But it wasn’t me.But I wear glasses and Iam slender like Nuhu.I don’t think they said the guy was tall or short.If they had said the guy was tall,maybe I would have been saved the aggravation.But this version to me is more believable,knowing Umaru YarAdua and his fixation on spiritualists and marabouts and all that.So I have spoken to many people.I don’t want to mention their names because some of them spoke to me in strictest confidence.But my visit to James Ibori was widely known,so I will say that.So I spoke to people like that close to YarAdua to try to figure out what did I do wrong, because I need to learn,because there is no point repeating the same mistakes.What did I do because as far as I know all I have done for Umaru YarAdua all my life was respect, affection and help and support.And I don’t want to go into the ways and means I have supported him all through the years because I have.I know that his family knows .Those close to know know what I did for him even in his presidential one.So I don’t need to go into that.But how can I be nice to someone and then he turns back and goes after me and even wanting me dead,I had to learn….But at the end of the day,again out of fate only confused because I couldn’t get anything substantive as to what it was I did.It was mostly what he felt I would do or you know…So I was convicted of a crime that I was yet to commit in the Yar Adua court.That was all.”
Watch out for the full interview with Nasir El Rufai on Newsdiaryonline.com.The former minister spoke on Jonathan, Boko Haram, Buhari and the merger talks of opposition parties ahead of 2015 and other issues in this no –holds-barred interview.