The Presidency on Sunday alleged that the former FCT Minister who is also the Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, was attacking President Goodluck Jonathan, because he sought a favour which was not granted.
A statement by the Special Assistant (New Media) to the President, Mr. Reno Omokri, in Abuja, described as unfortunate, el-Rufai’s comments contained in the interview published in a national daily, not The Punch, on Saturday.
Omokri said El-Rufai had also said in the interview that “nothing can make Jonathan succeed and that the President is grossly incompetent, because he doesn’t listen, and doesn’t even understand the issues.”
But the Presidential aide urged the public “not to be misled by the machinations of el-Rufai, a man who is in dire need of prayers and perhaps psychological assistance.”
Omokri alleged that “Nasir el-Rufai wanted something from the President which was why he visited him at the Presidential Villa to heap unsolicited praise on the President in 2010.”
He added, “When he did not get what he wanted, he became bitter and since the days of yore when the fox that could not get the grapes tagged them ‘sour grapes’ to mask its frustration, it has always been the habit of persons who cannot compete on the basis of ideas to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
“Thus, El-Rufai, having run out of ideas, has tagged this administration as ‘incompetent,” Omokri stated.
But El-Rufai through his media advisor, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, challenged the Presidency to make public the request he made which was turned down by Jonathan.
He noted that el- Rufai had anticipated the discomfort which his latest newspaper interview would cause the Presidency, and he was not surprised by the resort to innuendos in the statement the Presidency released.
He said, “The personal attacks on me cannot redress the competence deficit that afflicts this government or make the poor performance go away.
“I have never asked anything from the Jonathan government, and I challenge them to make public any such request. The history of my meetings with Jonathan upon my return from exile in 2010 is detailed in my book.
“Jonathan is the one who requested my support for his presidential ambition, a request I declined. After the three meetings in 2010, they have sent a variety of people to solicit cooperation and make offers which I have rejected.
“Regarding my relationship with General Muhammad Buhari, there is no doubt that we have had our differences. But we have put those behind us in our quest to help this country achieve the quality of leadership that can pull it from potential to greatness.
“Some of us speak candidly, but we are also educated enough to act on new information and reflections,” he added.
Omokri nevertheless recalled that contrary to his position in the interview, El-Rufai had at a meeting with Ambassador John Campbell in April of 2007 described Jonathan, the then Vice Presidential nominee of the People’s Democratic Party, as a clean and honest leader”.
He also added that El Rufai had told the ambassador that “Jonathan was the only candidate that met Obasanjo’s guidelines, which was honesty and being an Ijaw.”