The lamentation about the impact of corruption on Nigeria is loud on a deafening scale. But in obsessing with corruption, there is a collective loss of sight of a more insidious evil in the polity, which is the activity of those who actively sabotage Nigeria for the benefit of foreign interests in exchange for personal gains.
Alarmingly, what makes this set of saboteurs dangerous is the way they package their destructive intent to appear as patriotic intervention or advocacy for best practice. Combined with the access they have to the mainstream and social media, they can derail national focus and send the rest of us pursuing inanities.
Enter Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani. A major operator in this destructive spectrum, he recently reasserted himself as unrepentant during his appearance on Channels TV’s Politics Today. In the television interview, Rafsanjani infamously asserted that the Aviation Ministry needs a minister with a stable mind as if to say the person currently manning that portfolio is unstable.
Festus Keyamo, a seasoned legal practitioner, is the incumbent Minister of Aviation following his appointment, screening, and confirmation by the Senate, and swearing-in by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Keyamo served in the immediate past cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, in which he excelled to the point of being noted as one of the best brains in the country.
Of course, the initial ministerial nomination lists did not contain Keyamo’s name, an anomaly that was protested by right-thinking Nigerians and one that President Tinubu promptly addressed with his inclusion. As expected, given Keyamo’s outspoken personality and his penchant for stepping on toes in the pursuit of national interest, some drama played out at the Senate around his confirmation, but this too was amicably resolved in the interest of reason.
For a public office holder to enjoy such goodwill among his political peers and the public is not a happenstance. It is the product of consistently acting on the right side of history, acting in the public interest, and adding value to national life by leveraging the positions he held to always do the right things.
It is, therefore, perplexing that Rafsanjani threw caution to the wind and picked Keyamo as the person to attack among the scores of persons that made President Tinubu’s cabinet as Ministers. In framing his attack, Rafsanjani tenuously attempted to dress Keyamo in borrowed garb by attributing to him characters that Nigerians do not know him for.
He even went as far as hallucinating by saying “I think President Bola Ahmed Tinubu brought Festus Keyamo just to disgrace him.” Such naivety. What President of repute will waste an opportunity to develop the country in a bid to disgrace a phantom enemy? Certainly not President Tinubu, who sees and treats Keyamo as an ally instead of an enemy as Rafsanjani assumed.
Rafsanjani’s double-facedness was exposed when he attempted to attenuate his attacks on Keyamo by referring to him as a “friend and former comrade” which was disingenuous, to say the least, because he undid that token patronage with the backstab of accusing Keyamo of being capable of creating chaos that he should have given him something (a ministry that is) less controversial.
It is interesting to note that Rafsanjani is currently less of an activist than Keyamo is, even as a public officeholder; the penchant for chaos that Rafsanjani alluded to is the activist in Keyamo coming into play in the discharge of his official duties. He is passionate about protecting the rights and interests of citizens, which the Executive Director of CISLAC wrongly interpreted as being chaotic. By the way, the abuse that Nigerians have suffered at the hands of some airline operators requires the kind of activism that Keyamo can deliver.
Meanwhile, proof of Rafsanjani’s compromise as a saboteur working for foreign interests against the good of Nigeria was in his assertion that “The European Union in their report on the last election quoted the character of Keyamo as someone whose actions and utterances were undemocratic.” The import is that Rafsanjani was on that television show to reactivate the foreign-backed operation to undermine the outcome of the 2023 General Elections and consequently Nigeria’s democracy. This means Rafsanjani is the undemocratic one since he is working for entities that are interested in derailing Nigeria’s democracy.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to be reminded that the foreign interests seeking to undermine the outcome of the 2023 General Elections are interested in installing proxy a government of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), or a mishmash of both. Rafsanjani should be sincere in declaring which of these parties he belongs to so that his intervention in public discourse that relates to governance can be better assessed to understand his biases. Keyamo once dared to expose Rafsanjani as a mole planted by the PDP in Civil Society, so this character’s anger against the Minister of Aviation might also be tempered by that memory.
It is pertinent to note that Rafsanjani runs the shop for the destructive neocon entities behind this plot under various guises including being on the boards of Transparency International and Amnesty International in Nigeria, two entities on whose behalf he has attacked other public office holders and institutions in the past. These enterprises failed.
Because of his failed attempts to undermine Nigeria in the past, Rafsanjani is now desperately looking for a new business enterprise after his most recent misadventures. It is on record that this character used Amnesty International to frustrate Nigeria’s war against terrorism with claims of human rights abuses, so, the country must now be on the lookout because it appears a consortium of foreign airlines have reached out to him, as there are reports that the airlines are jittery at the reforms that Keyamo is planning in the aviation sector to protect the interest of Nigerian passengers.
In conclusion, one must urge Keyamo not to be deterred by whatever Rafsanjani throws at him by way of criticism. If the latter’s modus operandi holds, he will later hold news conferences, write opinion articles, and explore media appearances to further launch attacks on the Minister. But Keyamo must always remember, especially given his experience in civil society, that this is a nuisance that is best ignored.
To Rafsanjani, a friendly advisor, his foray into the aviation sector to harassattackking the Minister has failed again just as the other neocon enterprises he undertook in the past.
Udenyi, a public affairs analyst wrote this piece from Kaduna.