President Obasanjo once told El-Rufai thus:
“Listen, let me tell you- you know , you have three problems. Each one of them is enough of a problem by itself , but you have all three. Your first problem is that you are very clever. People generally do not like clever people. You are clever . That alone will attract you enemies.”
“But you have a second problem – your second problem is that you look clever. One look at your face and a person knows that this one is very clever, and that is a bigger problem. Look at me . In my time, I was not as clever as you are. I have gone through your grades in school. You are very bright. You got A’s in high school , A’s in A levels, first class honours. I did not go to University but I took my high school graduation exams a year in advance and I also got A’s so I was also clever in school. But I am lucky – God gave me a not -so- clever face . People think I am stupid . So you can not look at me and know what is going on in my brain. But in your own case , you do not have that luck. You know what I do? I behave like a bushman. See what that has done to me. I am here , far smarter people than me are out there. There is nothing you can do about your face, but you can reduce the enemies you have by avoiding the the problem of being too clever.”
“Your third problem – you speak clever, you act clever , you are impatient with people who are not as smart as you. You talk down to them. You do those things. So you have these these three problems… You are smart ; you look smart, talk and act smart. Many people will not like you. You must learn to look simple ,to be patient with people who can’t think as fast as you . You must learn to talk less and listen more and agree even more with not -so- clever people. Unless you do that, you will continue to have problems and it is my duty to protect you, and develop you, because you are a good person…”
– The Accidental Public Servant (p.127).