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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Botched El-Rufai’s Ministerial Confirmation

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Out of the forty-eight ministerial nominees sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, failed to make the final list. His problem began when Sunday Karimi, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, waved a petition, bordering on security against the former governor.

At that point, it was clear to el-Rufai himself that he was at a cross-road as he sought the leave of Senators to address the issue. However, Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, seemed to have saved the situation by emphasising that even if there was a petition against the nominee, it was not within the ambit of the Senate to discuss a petition not before it. At the end of the close-door session, the Senate emerged without the name of el-Rufai on the confirmed list. His rejection by the Senate has become a topic of national discourse since then. In fact, the news of his non-confirmation was received with mixed feelings.

El-rufai’s supporters have risen in defence of their man detailing his stand and support for Tinubu in times of political need. His performance as the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was also an achievement always on the table whenever it matters to el-Rufai. They also brandished his sterling performance in infrastructural development, especially road construction in Kaduna as major achievements. With this development, it has become very glaring that the former governor has lost out in the political equation and power game. Last week, after a brief visit to Tinubu, it was hushed in low tones that el-Rufai has foreclosed any plan to serve as a minister in this administration. It was reported that he had suggested a new name to fill the vacant ministerial slot for Kaduna state.

Credible sources disclosed that el-rufai informed the president that his major preoccupation now is to complete his Doctoral Degree Programme abroad.

These are the reasons behind el-rufai’s botched ministerial confirmation. First, the fear of his duplicity and proclivity to manipulate. The original Tinubu loyalists from the days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) would not accommodate the likes of el-Rufai, who is seen as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Second, strategic positioning for power and permutations ahead of 2027 within the north was said to have worked against el-Rufai. The likes of Vice President Kashim Shettima, George Akume and Nuhu Ribadu, would like to leverage their positions to consolidate their powers, thus, would not like strong contenders or obstacles to their aspirations.

Third, the emergence of el-Rufai in the political scene is mired with tales of his notoriety for political betrayal and backstabbing. He is said to be a political Judas who destroys even his masters provided he climbs the available political ladder.

Stories were rife on how he betrayed his benefactor – former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who raised him from the ashes of obscurity to the political limelight. As the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation, Atiku appointed him the Director–General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), but when succession drama between Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku brewed, el-Rufai pitched tent with Obasanjo and became the arrowhead of the group commissioned to pull Atiku down by all means.

In the end, Obasanjo summed up the man el-Rufai thus in his book, My Watch Vol.II, “Nasir’s penchant for reputation savaging is almost pathological. Why does he do it? I recognised his weaknesses; the worst being his inability to be loyal to anybody or any issue consistently for long, but only to Nasir el-Rufai. He barefacedly lies, which he did to me against his colleagues and so-called friends. I have heard of how he ruthlessly savaged the reputation of his uncle, a man who was like, in the African setting, his foster father. I shuddered when I heard the story of what he did to his half-brother in the Air Force who is senior to him in age.”

Fourth, his high-handedness is second to none. Nobody says no when el-Rufai has said yes despite how reasonable. To conclude that he is arrogant and wielded authoritarian powers even in democracy is to say the least.

Fifth, since 2003 when he became the minister of FCT, el-Rufai has capitalised on taking undue political advantage of situations against individuals to enrich his political resume. Before 2023, he was one of the closest allies of Muhammadu Buhari who sources say nursed presidential ambition and saw no good in Tinubu becoming the president.

Some months before the elections, el-Rufai was known to have described Tinubu in unprintable terms. In fact, he was a latter-day apostle of Tinubu’s candidacy. Sixth, the precarious security situation in Kaduna, which led to the death of at least 1,266 and the kidnap of 4,973 persons in one year according to sources, was the last straw that broke Camel’s back. His nonchalant attitude to the incessant killings and kidnapping of innocent travellers along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway with little or no effort to tame it was an established case of negligence.

Numerous attacks on communities in Southern Kaduna by terrorist groups and bandits known to be of Fulani ethnic nationality and his indifference to their plight was one sour point of his administration. Seventh, petitions bordering on human rights violations against him were rife. The killing of over 300 Shi’ia members in Zaria in 2015 under his watch has continued to reverberate. Many court cases challenging demolition notices government-served communities, land matters and seized or destroyed properties of individuals are legal issues he had
left behind for the new administration in Kaduna to sort out. Eight, he has no regard for the rule of law. His penchant for disobeying court orders restraining him from taking further actions on his intentions to demolish what he called illegal structures, new communities, schools and rationalisation of the state civil service will continue to bear witness against el-Rufai.

Nothing lasts forever, not even our lives. Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has straddled the political firmament of Nigeria like a colossus for over two decades. Incidentally, the end of his political career and relevance is finally here. Nobody is a saint but good character is one virtue that could make or mar a person in both life and politics. Apart from beneficiaries of el-rufai’s hegemony and those who pick crumbs from his political table, street opinion of good governance if carried today will not favour him. People take note and often refer to the role one plays to raise or destroy the political fortunes and profile of leaders at one point or the other.

Therefore, becoming relevant in a new political dispensation is determined by how people view your take on power, position and authority. How those you vilified or crushed with power at your disposal years ago on account of your influence and position see you today matters. There is always a payback time. The fate of el-rufai today is compensation for his good deeds of yesterday. Being in a position of authority is a trust to do good to all without fear or favour. Political power is transient. What goes around comes around. That’s the way the cookie crumbled.

By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

Mr. Eze is a Media and Development Communication Specialist via sunnyeze02@yahoo.com and can be reached on 08060901201

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