I have handled several personality interviews in the course of my journalistic career that has spanned over four decades. Today, I am the one on the other side of the chair, being interviewed by newspapers and electronic media across continents.
The experience had always been thrilling, intriguing and challenging. Most times, while trying to answer a guest, one gets tempted to delve into other issues not all that related, but as the interviewee, you believe that the point you are making can further buttress the point you are making. Interviews have the ability to derail and destabilize the interviewee despite his coordination and compulsion.
There are tricky questions that can either derail thoughts or turn the interviewee into a storyteller. In 1986, as the chief correspondent of the National Concord newspaper, I was invited by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Enugu, along with Mr. Chudi Uwandu of The Guardian newspaper, as a two-man panel to interview the late Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, unfortunately as the first to ask a question, I got intimidated by the personality of the VP and derailed in articulating my first question. As I was soliloquizing, the anchorman of the morning show, Mr. Eddy Brown Anyaogu, quickly intervened.
Most often, politicians deviate from the question, in their bid to further buttress the point they want to make. They incorporate other issues, thereby turning to storytellers, like Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s recent radio interview in Hausa language. You may ask, why Hausa language? Of course, as a village boy, he understands the power of vernacular. There are certain expressions that would rightly convey the message to the listeners in their native tongue. Report said that, on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, Kaduna State Governor El-Rufai, while speaking on a radio programme, said he had been warned to be careful.
“I also heard about a video where they threatened to abduct Buhari and myself. I have been warned to be careful, including my families too,” he said.
According to him, for the past five years, he had been advocating the bombing of terrorists’ camps wherever they were, adding that it was the only solution to the problem.
El-Rufai said, “This is why I met with the President on Sunday and told him about these problems. I also told him about the video because, up to that day, he was not even aware. I told him and, the following day, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, also confirmed to him that he saw the video too, so as to take action.”
According to him, the President assured him that he met with the service chiefs four days before the meeting and he gave them a clear directive to have a comprehensive military operation to deal with those people.
He added: “We hope, God-willing, the soldiers and the police that were given the directives will hasten up to finish the job. We don’t have to wait until they (terrorists) strike before we respond.
“They (soldiers) must go after them wherever they are to deal with them. The truth is, we are worried about the security situation, but we hope the Federal Government will do the right thing.”
This is reminiscent of the biblical account of a plot to kill Paul of Tarsus but his relation’s son who heard about the evil plot was able to access Paul and relate the plot to him (Acts 23:16-21).
“And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
“Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
“Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
“And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
“But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him.”
Nigerians are very thankful to Governor El-Rufai for braving up and breaking the incommunicado barrier tale about the Presidency. The story making the rounds is that the President knows only what he is briefed about happenings around the country.
Once, it was the wife of the President who alerted the nation about those she described as “Cabals” hijacking activities at the Presidency, noting that the cabals only allow him to know what they want him to know, and someone angrily asked, “who is the Presidency?”
No doubt, El-Rufai may have stepped on the big toes of the National Security Adviser and other relevant agencies that ought to brief the President. However, what is rather painful is that El-Rufai, who was able to reach out to President Buhari, only remembered his personal case, which he tabled and discussed with the President, and also including the story of the bandits’ threat to kidnap the President, who is a four-star military general.
He forgot to brief the President about the total collapse of the Nigerian econommy. He was in haste to receive a thank-you appreciation remark from the President but forgot to brief the President about the unbelievable total collapse of the naira, which is exchanging with one dollar for N720.
Is El-Rufai not aware of the rising wave of kidnapping across the country? How come El-Rufai also forgot to brief the President about the ASUU strike that has crippled our university education?
By the way, is it out of place for the governor who wants a better Nigeria to have remembered to brief the President about the request of the United Nations about the release of IPOB leader? After all, Nnamdi Kanu was addressed as a terrorists.
The question is, those 25,000 acclaimed repentant Boko Haram terrorists, are they not wearing the same toga? Whatever crime is being hanged on Kanu also fits the other terrorists. So, for the peace of the entire Igbo states, it is in the collective interest of the country that Kanu be released .
If El-Rufai, due to protocol or time at the Presidency, forgot to brief the President on these other national issues, then it is expedient for him to make a return trip for a complete update of the ‘national security briefing’.