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In The Accidental Public Servant, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai sets out to do more than merely break the unwritten rules of ex-political office holders in Nigeria; he utterly annihilates them.
For a vocal politician with somewhat activist credentials who only turned 50 in 2010, the motives of his narrative will be the subject of speculation for some time to come irrespective of whatever he says or believes are his own reasons for putting this out.
By this book, this author says in effect that Nigeria is bigger than any one person and he cares more about Nigeria than any temporary benefits from partisan politics. In setting out this tale, El-Rufai manages to serve up a memoir whose principal characters hark back to Udoji’s title; whose narrative evokes Fatayi Williams; and whose title could also easily have been Adebo’s.
The book has three organizing themes that indeed resolve into one. It is a story about how, in Nigeria, “governance outcomes really depend on a series of accidents rather than any meritocratic or rigorous process.”1 This is the origin of its title.
There is a bigger theme, however, which the author goes back to repeatedly in the book: in Nigeria, “we are pretty much the same everywhere.”