By Chuks Ekpeneru
For the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, this may not be best of times as he has come under pressure on all sides.
As at daybreak on Friday, more than 30,000 persons had signed a petition calling on the United Kingdom and the European Union to place a travel ban on him for allegedly promoting religious and political intolerance in Kaduna State.
The petition, which was initiated by a former Presidential aide, Reno Omokri, on Tuesday, was addressed to the UK Parliament, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.
This came at a time the governor is rumoured to be among those slammed with visa restrictions by the US government for various alleged discretions against democratic tenets.
The governor had been in the eye of the storm with allegations that he did not manage the issues that arose from the Southern Kaduna killings well.
This led the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) to allege that El-Rufai was not ready for peace in the state.
The allegations against him made the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to withdraw his invitation as a speaker at the just concluded annual general conference of the NBA.
6,476 persons signed the petition to stop him from speaking at the last Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
El Rufai is not new to controversy. He has travelled on this road severally.
As the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) between 1999 and 2003, he was reportedly under pressure especially to deliver government assets to emerging politicians who took over from the military.
The sale of NITEL to fly-by-night consortium called PENTASCOPE, is an issue that he still finds difficult to explain.
When he moved up to become the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he performed his job with zeal, though wide condenmation trailed his attempts to return the nation’s capital to the original plans.
Out of office, he expected to be part of the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, this was not to be as the enemies he made in office came after him.
He subsequently went into a self-imposed exile for two years, a period he described as one of the most difficult periods of his life.
According to him “At a time I was very despondent, I was very angry over the persecution I was going through at a time after my years of service,” El-Rufai said.
“I felt that I gave my best time, talent, everything, as a DG of BPE (Bureau of Public Enterprises) and minister of FCT.
“I did what I thought was best for the country but what I got in return from someone who was like an elder brother to me, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory was persecution. I was exiled.”
Especially given his international exposure and comportment among the best in his profession, the dent of subjecting him to the opprobrium of an international visa ban is bound to be excruciating for a man who by every estimation has the spring for higher political office.