Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, Kaduna state has a governor like no other one in the last nineteen years in the person of Governor Nasir Ahmed El Rufai. The man who, against all odds, emerged as the candidate of the All Progressive Congress, routed well established politicians in the state, in the last three and half years, and has taken bold and unpopular decisions that have pitched him against various forces, including members of his political party, the APC.
Though some of the decisions according to him are necessary to move the state forward, especially in the areas of education, where he has attracted many enemies, or opposition, depending on whose narrative one is reading, but how far and well has this gone? Some feel that some of his actions were taken without wide consultation and according to popular demand and are capable of truncating his chances of being re-elected in 2019. Nasir El Rufai, through his actions (or inactions as some claim) has raised a coalition of the aggrieved stakeholders who are determined to see his end in the office through the ballot box come 2019. But how far this his opponents, the unwitting members of the coalition of the aggrieved go in getting him out of office will surely be seen in the days ahead. Can the members of this coalition succeed? Even before he was sworn into office, Nasir el Rufai sign-posted a radical departure from what observers of Kaduna politics had known it to be.
It will be recalled that he had at the beginning constituted a controversial transition committee that was long in people he thought shared his vision of how to run the ideal state of his dream, and short of political patronage. Though eyebrows were raised over the novel approach being introduced by the then governor-elect, people watched with bated breath, with the expectation that he would change once he assumed office officially. But when he finally assumed office, El Rufai demonstrated that the buck stopped on his table and needed no one’s idea to succeed, so he was ready to take responsibility for any success or failure of his government by bringing in people who could help him drive the change agenda of his party, an agenda that for him became a personal creed curried with greed, and personal hidden agenda in the guise of consultancy which in no distant time manifesting its true purpose.
Though he extended a semblance of invitation to his political associates who had helped propelled him to victory to nominate capable persons into his cabinet for the fun of it, most of the nominees according to him fell short of the high standard that he had set for those who could work for and with him. He simply and tactically sidelined those who were not willing to bring in more competent persons into government and rather brought in people with previous criminal records that he thought shared in his vision for the state. And this included people who are not originally indigenes of Kaduna state as it is understood in political lexicon. Among them, Jimi Lawal, a Lagosian who had before then escaped to foreign country after running aground one of the new generation banks and was the most wanted person in the sector and one John Ofutu from Benue State who was alleged to have been his mate in ABU Zaria but had been out of the country for over 30 years. And that was the beginning of the problem between El Rufai and the motley crowd of Kaduna politicians, especially those in the APC. He allegedly abandoned those who helped got him into office and went away to scout for those who are in no way better than the indegenes and the political stakeholders just to find a conduit-pipe for syphoning money into his personal account abroad.
This would eventually become the defining relationship between him and his colleagues in the party. In style and substance, Mallam Nasir El Rufai said he represents something new, an avant-garde in Kaduna political firmament, but this remains to be seen as no meaningful change has been effected in the last 3 years of his administration than the avalanche of controversies he has generated in Kaduna State. As soon as he assumed office, he stopped political patronage of so called stakeholders; an under the table arrangement that allowed some people to take home as much as N10 Million from the state coffers monthly for no other reason than that they are from Kaduna state or reside in the state this was good enough if he has sustained it. In a deeply conservative religious state like Kaduna, Mallam El-Rufai stopped the age long practice of sponsoring thousands of people for pilgrimage to either Mecca or Jerusalem for a purely personal religious obligation. All these were good ideas in good direction, but it later became a double standerd as events were to reveal. It was a decision that jolted the state, with many predicting that the governor could not afford to embark on a battle with the religious block in the state. Three years after, the decision still remains partially sustained with firm grieve consequences.
With the passage of time and becoming more firmly rooted in governance, governor El Rufai may have become more stable in taking decisions or pursuing policies that many thought were impossible in the state but not without stepping on peoples toes and violating human right and even damning the consequences of his actions and court orders. He banned the ubiquitous practice of begging on Kaduna streets without proffering an alternative, introduced a Bill to regulate preaching by both Christians and Muslim clerics in the state and dealt a heavy hand with any little infringement of the law. He was criticized for leaving the main things to chase shadows. He banned members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the umbrella body of all Shiite Islamic sect, after a judicial panel of enquiry set up to investigate the clash between members of the sect and the Army in Zaria found the IMN culpable in fomenting trouble. His supporters hailed him as firm and decisive while his critics see him as draconian and autocratic. He saw himself as a reformer bent on changing the narrative of the state, but never followed due process. While many see him as a violator of Human Rights and an arrogant leader who have little or no respect for other’s lives and the rule of law. But rather than pandering to the populist expectations of the people, Mallam El-Rufai became more emboldened in his mindless conviction that he is out to make Kaduna state better than he met it. In order to improve on the quality of education in the state, the governor had embarked on massive demolition of structures around the government owned schools with the aim of renovation and in some cases, reconstruction of dilapidated structures in the state schools. But most of such structures were abandoned for over two years and work just started in the wake of the re-election electioneering period.
Nasir El Rufai subjected primary school teachers in the state to what his government called a simple competency test. Questions meant for primary 4 pupils were administered on primary school teachers in an exercise that the government insisted was done with the collaboration of the umbrella body of teachers in the state, the Nigerian Union of Teachers. The result was simply gob-smacking. Over 30,000 teachers who were supposed to teach primary school pupils failed the test and in an unprecedented show of grit and political will, the state government laid off all those who failed the test and had gone ahead for their replacements. Even in the traditional institution, El Rufai’s Tsunami of “supposed” reform was unsparing. He ordered the sack of 4,766 district and village heads but would now recognize only the 77 districts and 1,429 villages that existed prior to 2001. Although his action was based on a recommendation of a committee that he had earlier set up, but the overall report was greeted and received by the public as undemocratic.
The members of the traditional institutions who were included in the committee, critics of the government point out that the traditional rulers were basically coerced into the committee to endorse what was already accomplished. While the governor was consolidating his hold on governance, he was also doing same in the political arena. He planted his allies in key positions in the executive council of the party in the state. He effectively was in control of government and the party by allegedly taking undue advantage of the situation on ground in Kaduna to muscle the leadership of the party. Realizing the danger the El-Rufai reforms posed to their ambition, politicians in the state began to resist the nibbling away of their political influence and relevance. Senator Shehu Sani, the poster boy of the opposition against El-Rufai’s policies and politics in Kaduna began to question El-Rufai’s increasingly debilitating actions on the party. He put on a facade of fighting for the people of his state and the constituency. It was also a battle to remain politically relevant and useful. He mobilized people of like minds, including Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi to confront what is obviously an existential threat to their political survival.
The reaction from the state government was swift and severe. Senator Sani was suspended from the party along with his supporters while Hunkuyi who had the misfortune of availing his personal house as a factional office of the APC in the state had the one storey building pulled down on the nebulous excuse that he failed to pay tenement rate tax on it. Should those owing tenement rate fee have their houses pulled down? In all these, Governor El-Rufai had never hidden his intention to make his political opponent irrelevant. While he has taken actions in pursuit of this, leading to the imminent departure of almost all those who are opposed to El Rufai from APC.
He carried personal differences into politics and governance and defines his relationship with his friends and foes in clear terms. You are either his friend or you are his enemy – period.
From the sacked teachers, to members of the Shiites Islamic Sect, to the dismissed traditional rulers to aggrieved members of the All Progressive Congress, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El Rufai has created a coalition of the aggrieved who are determined to come together as a group to unseat him in 2019. For members of this group, the many infractions of the governor were enough campaign materials for them to unseat him. The driving force is on the fact that they are all aggrieved for one reason or the other. It is this perceived angst against the government that people who are aggrieved with El Rufai plan to exploit to unseat him. But for Mallam El Rufai, the coalition against him is nothing to worry about. For now, though the opposition against Mallam Nasir El Rufai is on several fronts, including from some members of his political parties, it remains to be seen how they would be able to coalesce their opposition into a potent and formidable political force that will unseat a candidate alleged to be feared and favoured by President Muhammadu Buhari, who despite some misgivings from Nigerians, still commands substantial support from Kaduna state.
Therefore, if the feelers and permutations within and outside Kaduna given the above overview background is anything to go by in the run-up to 2019 General Elections, then the incumbent governor of Kaduna State will not win the election come March, 2019. Political pundits have converged on the opinion that the incumbent Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai will be on his way out of the famous Sir Kashim Ibrahim House soon.
This is based on their conviction that the majority of the Kaduna people are disenchanted with the Governor due to the many hornets’ nests he has stirred since becoming governor of the Capital of the Defunct Northern Nigeria in May 2015 against all odds by riding on the crest and the popularity of the then Candidate Buhari, who seized every opportunity to tell his APC supporters to vote all APC Candidate’s, El-Rufai inclusive.
The reception for him by the Kaduna people was tumultuous while the expectation was also so high mainly because the insecurity problem posed by the deadly boko Haram was at its peak in most parts of Northern Nigeria, but nobody foresaw the incursion of the deadly Fulani herdsmen and the devastating outcome.
Northerners were disenchanted with former President Jonathan and his administration who they alleged may have deliberately refused to solve the Boko Haram problem because he was not from the North. Whereas, it is also alleged that the same Northerners El-Rufai inclusive who wanted Jonathan out had created and funded the insurgency to frustrate the administration of Goodluck Jonathan; give it a bad name and nailed it.
As soon as he was sworn in as governor of his State after winning the election with a landslide , El-Rufai began his slow but furious journey into a collision course with stakeholders in the State; the general public, his party Chieftains, Traditional Rulers/District Heads, School Teachers, Local Government Employees, State Civil Servants etc. In fact , he opened more battle fronts than Adolf Hitler whose opening of many battle fronts became his Achilles heels that eventually consumed him and became his water loo in the second world war.
Kaduna State is one of the states, where aggrieved stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) have defected to the opposition PDP and other political parties and are working very hard to make sure the incumbent governor-Nasir el-Rufai does not return to the government House, Kaduna.
Spearheading this crusade are Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central Senatorial district, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, representing Kaduna North Senatorial district, Hon. Isah Ashiru, the current PDP governorship flag bearer who lost the governorship ticket to El-Rufai in 2014 with a narrow margin, Dr. Datti Baba Ahmed, Yaro Makama Rigachiku, a former Kaduna state chairman of the PDP, who joined the APC in the “wind of change” that swept the PDP in 2015.
Several of those, who played key roles in the election of El-Rufai, have dumped the APC over allegations that they were not carried along, after working to ensure victory for the party. Hunkuyi headed the APC campaign organisation at the time.
Also, members of the two factions of the APC in the state have left the party either for the PDP or have joined other political parties.
Other politicians, who played important roles in the campaign council especially people like Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, Anthony Ali Wakili, Mikhail Takwak, Isah Abdullahi Shika, Nuhu Audu, among several others have equally left the APC for the better with deep-seated bitterness against the governor and his party.
However, the problem in the state chapter of the party has worsened with the recent defection of Senator Shehu Sani, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, which has pitted the national secretariat of the party against the state chapter.
This, according to observers, is not good for the party, coming at a time when elections are approaching. With this scenario, the APC seems to be facing threats of likely defeat in 2019.
El-Rufai, it is believed, would need to work very hard to face the impossible gang-up against him by the opposition as well as tackle other dynamics that are likely to be played against him during the election. But can he survive it?
Sacking of Traditional Rulers/District Heads
Traditional heads, who are the closest to the people at the grassroots would have been used by the governor to mobilize the electorate at that level to cast their votes for him but, being at loggerheads with majority of them whom he had sacked with the excuse that his administration has no resources to bear the burden of paying their salaries would be the albatross of the governor ahead of 2019 General elections.
Listing the obstacles that might hinder the APC from winning in Kaduna, Abubakar said the traditional institution in the state which plays important role in elections in the state had fallen apart with the governor and they are not likely to support him during the elections.
According to Abubakar, “the traditional institutions in the state are key players who determine who becomes the governor of Kaduna, today the governor is at loggerheads with virtually all of them.
“He sacked many of them for no justifiable reasons. Recall that a High Court sitting in Zaria, on Wednesday 7th Nov., 2018 ordered the Kaduna Govt. to reinstate all the dethroned 77 district heads, pending the determination of a case filed by them. Delivering a ruling, Judge Kabir Dabo held that the governor had no constitutional rights to tamper with judicial matters pending in a court of law. Another important segment that he has fought or he is fighting with is the civil servants. Many of them were sacked and the governor made them useless and today, have lost their value. Many civil servants and teachers were sacked in the name of reforms, these civil servants and their relations may not vote for El-Rufai,” he added.
Abubakar also pointed out that the APC would find it difficult to make an inroad in the southern part of Kaduna, the traditional home of the PDP, where votes come en bloc.
“The governor also has issues with the southern Kaduna people and it is not likely that they will support his second term bid. They are accusing him of marginalisation. The growing insecurity in the state, occasioned by killings and kidnapping will not favour his re-election. Out of all these, the government has not performed anything apart from making promises and causing ethnic and religious rivalry.
“The Shiite are also mobilising their members to register and vote in the 2019 elections, they will not vote for El-Rufai because of the massacre of their members in Zaria and the continued detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky alleged to have been instigated by Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai.
“When you analyze these things, you don’t need to be told that APC will not come back to power in Kaduna State in 2019,” Abubakar said.
To start with, the governor first Albatross was the way and manner with which he announced his intention to demolish houses and structures illegally built according to him around school areas. He specifically singled out Primary and Secondary Schools which he said needed befitting and conducive learning environment. Most of those demolished buildings were owned by non-indigenes businessmen and women between Gwari Road, Jama’a, Muri, Lagos and Lokoja Roads in the heart of Kaduna town.
He started with Zaria, his home town where he demolished peoples’ residential quarters around Barewa and Al-hudahuda Colleges.
It was a scene of wailings and cries of anguish by the people affected by that Zaria demolition exercise as bulldozers rolled onto houses hitherto occupied by people and turned them to rubbles within hours.
The most touching aspect of it was that these victims of his action were the poor who could not afford alternative houses to move into and to compound their problem, the governor said no compensation would be awarded because the people affected had no Certificates of Occupancy.
Alas! The inglorious Abuja demolition action in the name of restoring the nation’s Capital Master Plan where Mallam el-Rufai allegedly converted such seized lands to himself and his cronies was being replicated in Kaduna by same man whose action is still being criticized and his life continually cursed.
Unending nightmares, insomnia and fear of the governor replicating what he did in Abuja where he sent thousands of families back to the village and many more to their early graves after destroying their homes and means of livelihood, Kaduna residents in such areas marked for demolition (Rimi College, Gbagyi Villa, Abakpa College Road, Kurmin Mashi and many others) rushed to the judiciary for sanctuary and sought a court order restraining the governor from demolishing their homes. Fortunately, the Court granted their wish by asking the belligerent parties to maintain the status quo. That became their saving grace.
The Southern Kaduna Challenge
The Southern Kaduna senatorial zone which has eight Local Government Areas has been a PDP stronghold since the return to Democratic rule in 1999, and no party has won majority of votes from that Zone other than PDP. The party has produced all the previous Senators for that Zone since 1999.
Ordinarily, it would be a hard nut to crack for the governor el-Rufai, but he has worsened his chances of winning their hearts by his actions and inactions as he failed to extend the proverbial olive branch to the Southern Kaduna people who are predominantly Christian have continually come under incessant attacks from suspected herdsmen who have left behind after every attack anguish and sorrows in the attacked communities.
The people have once showed their anger by smashing cars in the governor’s convoy including the one he was in when he visited one of the attacked communities by suspected herdsmen after several other settlements had been attacked and the governor did nothing about them.
He responded, by punishing the whole community through the imposition of dusk to dawn curfew on them and denying the mostly Christian Population the joy of having a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year celebrations.
Southern Kaduna people have also complained of being marginalized by the governor el-Rufai’s administration who they alleged have not executed any meaningful projects in that area inspite of the fact that the deputy governor come from there.
Another puzzle to this is the decision of the deputy governor, Arc. Bala Bantex not to run as El-Rufai’s running mate in the forthcoming General Election but went for the Senate instead.
Most people believe that Mr Bantex may have seen that they stand no chance of being re-elected.
However, the odds and time are against el-Rufai to appease the Southern Kaduna people before the next election.
Sacking Of Teachers and Civil Servants
Not done yet with the demolition exercise, the Governor stirred controversy number 2 when he sacked thousands of teachers, Civil servants and Local government Employees whose monthly take home pays could barely feed members of their families for seven consecutive days while the State government’s appointees who receive fat salaries that should have been the concern of the governor were left untouched.
Teachers who were rendered jobless due to the governor’s action have continued around Kaduna Metropolis raining all kind of curses on the governor el-Rufai and his family and have vowed to vote him out of the government house in 2019.
To achieve this, they have formed different groups under different names on social media liaising among themselves on how to truncate the governor’s return to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
School Feeding Programme
The short lived school feeding programme of the State Government is another classic example of a policy somersault by an administration that preaches transparency and accountability in governance. The feeding programme barely lasted three months before it was discontinued by the governor who said he had spent a whopping sum of 2.4 billion naira on a program that had received knocks across the State due to the low quality of meals served the pupils.
Collision Course with NUJ Kaduna Council
Members of the State’s 4th Estate of the Realm have been disenchanted with the state governor who they alleged had not been carrying them along which is a sharp contrast with his predecessors who regularly visited the Journalists at their Press Centre.
Gov. El-Rufai has severally demonstrated his mindless disregards for the media by dragging so many Kaduna based journalists and media houses to court at the slightest provocation. The case of Luka Bunniyat of Vanguard who spent close to one year in prison is an example of how badly the governor’s relationship with the Journalists had deteriorated.
There are several other Journalists who are still in Courts on the accounts of the governor who found their news stories offensive, among them Gabriel Idibia of Union Newspapers.
The recent reconciliatory move made by Saidu Adamu, the governor’s appointee to NUJ was thwarted by the governor who said Mr Adamu was not speaking for him. Having observed that the governor’s relationship with the media was not cordial, Saidu Adamu made a move to reconcile him with the Kaduna based journalists but el-Rufai rebuffed him and distanced himself from such move.
Dearth of Infrastructures in the State
Even travellers on transit through the State Capital are conversant with the potholes-ridden-highways that make smooth rides through Kaduna so difficult, the state’s Western Bypass and other adjoining roads recently patched up by the el-Rufai administration have now become deplorable due to low quality works done .
The governor prefers to award contracts to friends and family members who have done shady and bad jobs unchallenged.
The governor has not carried out a comprehensive road rehabilitations and reconstructions since he assumed leadership of the state. The dualization of Rigasa Road is being undertaken by the Federal Government due to the Train Station located there has not been completed.
Dualization projects initiated by the Governor in U/Dosa and Sabon Kawo have not been completed. While works on Barnawa Major Road has not even started and the portions that have been tarred on Ungwan Dosa Roads have been washed off by rainfall.
The drainage project all around Kaduna Metropolis started by him have been abandoned halfway and residents have been left with no option than to cover up craters and gutters that were dug around their homes and left unattended to by contractors who are allegedly family members of the governor, Nasiru el-Rufai.
Schools owned by the State, secondary schools in particular have no adequate learning and instructional facilities. Pupils sit on bare floors to learn when the governor and his team mates have their children all studying abroad. That was one of the reasons he was criticized for wasting billions in the name of school feeding programme that was later abandoned.
Fractured APC in the State
Since assuming office in 2015, perhaps, there is no other governor, who has courted more crises and controversies like the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasiru El-rufai. For a man, who once described his three senators as useless, he chose to fight dirty a long time ago.
While he was alleged to have sponsored candidates against the three senators, one of them, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi had challenged him in the governorship contest, having left their party, APC to seek nomination elsewhere.
El-rufai also has issues with Senator Shehu Sani, as he is believed to have sponsored Uba Sani against him. Unfortunately, his moves come with an unpleasant burden. Senator Sani seems initially to have had the support of the president, who was alleged to have assured him of his return ticket, when he refused to go back to the party after initially defecting with the first set of senators, who left for the PDP on the floor of the senate.
What this means is that Buhari’s credibility is at stake, even as the current state of Kaduna politics is believed to have strained the relationship between El-rufai and Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the Party who is ready to do the president’s bidding even if it was at a cost he could not afford.
It is no more news that APC in Kaduna has been fragmented into three camps with the governor el-Rufai in a constamnt head on collision with members of other factions. The governor had to demolish a party Secretariat and a residence belonging to heads of the two factions opposing his style of leadership in the state.
The governor also publicly rained curses on the three Senators of the state who according to him had blocked his chance of getting an foreign loan grant.
Senator Shehu Sani in particular who is the Chairman Senate’s committee on Loan and Debts management disapproved el-Rufai’s loan request saying the terms and conditions of the loan were not favourable to the State. The committee said the burden of the loan would be carried over by generations yet unborn in the state.
The duo of Senators Shehu Sani and Suleiman Hunkuyi teamed up against the governor who they termed as arrogant, self-centered and excessively too hard on the people of the State through his many anti masses policies which they alleged have impoverished the people of the state.
Shehu Sani’s decision to leave the ruling APC was therefore not unconnected with the resolve of the national leadership of the party to give El-Rufai’s political appointee the ticket of the Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone.
This development would further unite the governor el-Rufia’s adversaries into a formidable force to work towards scuttling the chances of the Governor being reelected.
Survival of the Fittest
No doubt, Governor Nasiru el-Rufai has successful pushed out his adversaries in the APC. The last of them, Senator Shehu Sani, did not find it funny and had no option than to defect to another party. He was one senator believed to have initially had his back covered by President Muhammadu Buhari for refusing to go when other senators defected on the floor of the senate.
Unfortunately, he came up in arms against a governor, who detests being dictated to by anyone, to say the least, the president. In fact, the governor was said to have frowned at how the president unilaterally handed the Imo State party structure to Governor Rochas Okorocha without recourse to legality or due process.
Thus, when the president allegedly promised he would get Sani his ticket to return to the senate, el-Rufai must have snickered cheaply, since he knew he would never take such an order from the president.
As it is, Sani, who recently left the APC and with a poem to depict the state of the party has a huge battle to fight. But other tendencies like Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi might eventually cooperate with him to confront a common enemy. Kaduna, evidently, would be a battle ground with its many interesting dynamics.
The Ashiru and Sani’s Factor
The emergence of Isa Ashiru Kudan as PDP Guber Candidate ahead of the 2019 Election, a popular personality among youth in the State, a strong contender for the Kaduna top position must have unsettled the Governor’s camp as they have increased the tempo of their campaigns of calumny against the opposition in conventional and unconventional Media.
Ashiru was a strong contender seeking the APC governorship ticket in the run up to the 2015 party’s primaries but was prevailed upon to soft pedal for El-Rufai who eventually clinched the party’s ticket while Ashiru came second.
Isa Ashiru Kudan, is from Zone A as the governor and he commands a large followers among youth population in the state who see him as a beacon of hope and inspiration.
His emergence as PDP’s flag bearer has automatically given him the block votes of Southern Kaduna, a PDP stronghold which has always rallied behind PDP Governorship Candidates irrespective of tribe or religion.
Now that this; former APC member and former member of the House of Representatives, Isa Ashiru Kudan, is the PDP governorship candidate in Kaduna State. He will face Governor Nasir el Rufai of the APC in what some people expect to be a keen contest.
The PDP considers Ashiru, a one-time APC aspirant, who was the first runner-up in the 2015 primaries that produced Governor el-Rufai, as a force capable of giving the governor a run for his money and even dust him in terms of popularity.
Ashiru had defeated notables politicians like a former Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mohammed Sani Sidi; Senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial District, Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, immediate past governor of the state, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and Kaduna business mogul, Shuaibi Idris Miqati to pick the party ticket and yet, the party seems ready to unite to fight their common enemy: Governor el-Rufai.
However, as one who reckons that he has done enough to get massive support from his people, el-Rufai seems rather unperturbed. He is going into next year’s election convinced that his vision, governance, developmental programmes, clout, and commitment to serve and move the state forward as well as focus on the job would speak for him in spite of the facts that he had stepped on many toes.
But he would contend again with other contradictions that are his own doing like the way and manner he had bungled election of Senator Shehu Sani in favour of his anointed candidate Uba Sani. He will be going into the election faced with bitter party loyalists who may have not defected but would never work in his favour and that could affect his performance in the election.
Shehu Sani on the other hand would never support the Governor’s reelection bid. The human rights activist turned politician has as a well teeming youth supporters who would have added value to El-Rufai if he were in good terms with the Senator who had from day one criticized every policy of the Governor. He was the first among political office holders from the State to blast the governor’s quit notice to Street beggars to leave the state saying the Governor didn’t say he was going to chase out beggars during campaign. So, he saw no reason why he should do that now.
The Buhari factor
Unlike in the run up to the 2015 General Elections where the then Candidate Buhari raised the hands of APC flag bearers across the country including el-Rufai and asked his supporters to cast their votes for them, 2019 is definitely going to be a herculean task for Nasiru el-Rufai judging by the President’s body language. It will definitely be a different ball game in the run up to 2019 elections mainly because the President is not satisfied with the performance of majority of the APC governors who will now be left to sort themselves out with the Electorates.
Too Much at Once
The impact of the outcome of the party primaries in Kaduna State that took place barely two months ago has not been a good one, sadly on all counts. Although Governor Nasiru el-Rufai eventually got his most desired result – denying Senator Shehu Sani a re-election – the last, of course, has not been heard of the political development in that state especially with the reported defection of Senator Sani to another party.
The other factor that is not likely to make this any easy for el-Rufai is that his rejection of Sani is believed to be in clear disobedience to the order and wish of President Buhari, an insubordination that may not go unpunished at the end of the day.
However, even more disturbing was the recent ethno-religious crisis, which also culminated in the kidnap and eventual killing of a traditional ruler in Southern Kaduna, Agom Adara, Maiwada Raphael Galadima. His killing, clearly, has increased the body counts in a crisis that reportedly started with mere misunderstanding between two people. Agom Adara was buried on Saturday 10th of November, 2018. While all fingers are pointing in the direction of the state governor for being behind the Kidnap and eventual killing, some have spoken in his defence that the state government allegedly paid the ransom.
For now, this might be a little too much for the state and the government, and as the state approaches the demands of next elections, echoes of issues like this will definitely not be silenced. So moving to the NEXT LEVEL will certainly be a herculean task. However, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai does not care a hoot if he looses his re-election as long as his mission of defining clearly the different between the Northern Kaduna majority Muslims and the Southern Kaduna minority Christians has been achieved. More so that, according to him he has exceeded his family’s life expectancy of 50years to becoming the prominent figure that he is today when his family members usually di before they are 50years, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai has broken the family jinx by exceeding 50years. So what else does he need?
El-Rufai’s Enviable Political Fiefdom
If there was any governor, who had comfortably ‘called the bluff’ of the president and party and is having his way pretty good, it is the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai. He did not joke when he said Senator Shehu Sani would not secure his re-election ticket and despite the many interventions by the president and other APC stakeholders to compensate Sani for being such a “good boy” at a critical time, el-Rufai stood his ground and won the battle.
His candidate, Ubah Sani eventually got the ticket and has been recognised by the national leadership and eventually submitted to and published by INEC.
However, whilst the dust raised by that was yet to settle, el-Rufai is being accused of picking a Muslim woman, Hadiza Abubakar Balarabe from Southern Kaduna, which is predominantly Christian as his running mate. His current deputy, Barnabas Bala has taken his career a notch up by heading out to the senate. Unfortunately, the choice of Balarabe is believed to have since created some ill-feeling in the state as grossly insensitive especially, considering that there is serious crisis in that part of the state now.
El-Rufai further called the bluff when he asked his critics to go to hell for all he cares. He said that after all there have been Christian-Christian tickets in states like Plateau and Benue which are in the North and nobody has ever challenged them, so what difference did this, then make for him to have nominated a Muslim from the Southern part of Kaduna as a running mate? While some have applauded the choice of a female candidate, critics have accused the governor of insensitivity in picking a fellow Muslim for a religiously delicate state as Kaduna. He also claimed to have sought the counsel of Mr. President before making his choice. He went further to say that “the people that have criticized me most on this are people who never voted me in the first place, so are they not supposed to be celebrating if in their own opinion I have made a wrong choice? Then, why are they mourning? Mallam el-Rufai had asked. However, a versatile and fearless Muslim cleric Sheikh Gummi has el-Rufai of the impending danger of picking a Muslim as his running mate.
Between the El-Rufai and the Presidency
Not very happy presently is the Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru el-Rufai, who has successfully pushed endlessly to truncate the ambition of Senator Shehu Sani for Kaduna Central. It is public knowledge that there is no-love-lost between Sani and el-Rufai and the governor sees the election as an opportunity to finally settle scores.
Unfortunately, for the governor, the presidency has always been interested in Sani’s matter and that has made it difficult for el-Rufai to deal with Sani initially. It is not clear yet whether or not the governor would still find a way to further get at Sani, since he has defected to another party and would now be fighting and dinning with long spoons. But there is more to come the ways of both men soon in terms of their disagreement; Senator Shehu Sani by the calculation of many politicians will surely beat Uba Sani hands down come 2019. Meanwhile, other details have just emerged of how the Kaduna Central Senatorial District ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) was sold for $2million to Uba Sani, Political Adviser to Nasiru el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna. a source privy to the deal spoke exclusively to Saharareporters in Abuja on Friday the 16th November, 2018.
According to the source, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, who is one of the closest associate of el-Rufai and who singlehandedly gave the money to Farouk Adamu who headed a Presidential Committee on the APC primaries without the knowledge of other members. He said Adamu collected the cash in Abuja on behalf of Adam Oshimohole, National hairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC). He revealed that the sum of N50million was also offered to the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena by Uba Sani, which he turned down. This allegation was not confirmed at the time of going to press.
The die is now cast and the gladiators and their foot soldiers are out with different political strategies towards winning the hearts of the electorate ahead of the day of verdict when the people will either choose to continue with the status quo or change the Guard at Sir Kashim Ibrahim’s House.
Can Malam Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai swim his way out of the political tides enumerated above and be re-elected? Considering the fact, that time is not on his side, with barely less than three months before elections? Only time will tell.