Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State

El-Rufai In Kaduna: Like Nnamdi Kanu … Like Sunday Igboho?

11 mins read


Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Ahmad Nasir El-Rufai’s statewide address on Thursday, February 16, 2023 comes across as an unconscionable counter action to President Muhammed Buhari’s nationwide address on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s controversial Naira policy.

Caustic and virulent, El-Rufai went for the jugular as usual.

What is very disturbing and bringing a throwback to the Nigeria-Biafra civil war was the governor’s declaration that all the affected old currencies – N200, N500 and N1000 notes – remain legal tender in Kaduna State, contrary to federal government’s policy.

READ ALSO: Naira Policy: Governor El-Rufai Confirms Deeper Cracks In APC, Counters Buhari’s National Broadcast

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This is indeed similar to Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s action that resorted to introduction of Biafra currency (even though he had no option at the time). Governor El-Rufai is yet to be pushed to the wall; so, why declare Kaduna State sovereign over the federal government’s currency policy? Has the Nigerian presidency become so weak?

The governor of Kaduna State actually said so much that amount to poking fingers in the eyes of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Coming in the garb of addressing the people on a federal policy, he characteristically threw caution to the wind.

Historically, El-Rufai is versed in political controversy: During the 2019 presidential election, Governor El-Rufai had threatened international election observers that they would be taken out of Kaduna State in “body bags.” So, he is versed in  controversy. However, before now, it had been a bunch of diatribe against political opponents of his party, APC. But surprisingly now it’s a shift of his well known acerbics to the person and office of the President and any party member supporting the president.

He has had to burst out recently over “presidency cabals” who are using Mr. President against their party. He practically accused the President of of anti-party acts. He has also cried out that their presidential candidate is not getting Mr. President’s support. He followed up to categorically disown “northern elders” and sent a confrontational signal to northern groups that there are no elder of repute. This statement disparages the northern religio-political and cultural class.

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The recent caustic, disruptive utterances and behaviour of the Kaduna governor became more scandalous when he was quoted to have said that he no longer have respect for Mr. President. A few days after this viral declaration, he followed with his “Kaduna Address” which came in the same day of Mr. President’s national broadcast,

The 31-point address was seen by some as a politically contorted devise to counter and bring Mr. President to public opprobrium – a declaration of a parallel government in Kaduna State headed by El-Rufai, akin to the claims of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Mr. Sunday Igboho.

The address came a few days after Mr. President had told Nigerians that he had fulfilled his promises to them under an APC government. This El-Rufai address is nothing other than an incitement of Kaduna State, the North and Nigerians against Mr. President, using the currency redesign policy as a cloak. Days back, he had engaged himself in several media outbursts against Mr. President and his perceived APC enemies.

But all of this is toward a personal political capital in post-Buhari APC government. It speaks deeply about a man who can do anything for political power. In his calculation, Buhari’s usefulness is already exhausted. This is not different from the Ganduje script of vituperation against President Buhari. El-Rufai and Ganduje are not mincing words at all.

It is shocking that El-Rufai of all people is the one going for the president’s jugular. At what point did he realise there is a cabal in Aso Rock? At what point did he realise that Mr. President is antiparty? At what point did he himself cease  being part of the president’s cabal? Or did he lose out in secret game?

Like many have observed, why didn’t El-Rufai, Matawale, Ganduje and Yahaya Bello go to court to force Buhari to settle with the Academic Staff Union of uiversities during the eight-month-long strike? Why didn’t they protest or go to court to force Buhari to stop all the herder-farmer killings? Why didn’t they, in the last eight years, go to court to force Buhari to build refineries avert the persisting fuel scarcity? Today El-Rufai adds to the currency design allegation the issue of fuel scarcity as part of Buhari’s anti-APC policy.

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This is a governor who is bent like Buhari to institutionalise the CPC agenda which they have almost successfully achieved by superimposing it on APC in the pretension of a merger. For eagle-eyed observers, it is not difficult to conclude that the unpopular path the APC has trodden in eight years is a consequence of the hawkish influence of CPC elements.

Now in his terrorist-infested Kaduna State, El-Rufai sees nothing wrong in a Muslim-muslim ticket. This is the driving force for which he wants Tinubu to be president. It was one of the backdoor tactics to which elements like him subjected Tinubu, after he won the party’s primary ticket to become the presidential candidate. Why it took the ruling party a very long time for Tinubu to come out with a running mate  can only be imagined. Once he succumbed to the same-faith running mate, the coast came clear for him.

He was the first northern governor to openly encourage ransom payment to terrorists. He argued that it was the sensible thing to do to keep terrorists back in their countries. Today, Nigerians know better: terrorists have surged in Kaduna, making it one of the most terrorized states in Nigeria, even amidst heavy military power of Kaduna as the military capital of Nigeria. El-Rufai is about the only governor in a mixed faith state with same-faith deputy.

It is shocking that El-Rufai has dared the federal government with his statewide address. It is worrisome that he is inciting people against the president. He lacks patience. He lacks loyalty. He lacks respect. He adores power. Plenty power. It’s about a post Buhari era. He is fighting to be relevant in post Buhari APC government. This is what all the fight is about. It’s not for the collective good of Kaduna citizens. Not for the good of Nigerians. El-Rufai only dreams of El-Rufai; anything short of this is unacceptable to him.

But it seems the die is cast for him and President Buhari. El-Rufai apparently underrates the president. He believes that having been one of the arrowheads of the CPC that made Buhari having mutated into APC, and an acclaimed early member of the Aso Rock cabal, he knows the president too well. Though taciturn most times, the Buhari of today may not be the one El-Rufai is intending to undermine.

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The Buhari of today seems to have broken loose from the original Aso cabal and wants to be remembered for good by history. This he has repeatedly said concerning his readiness to hand over political power to another elected government through a peaceful, fair and transparent election. At different fora, he has repeated himself.

President Buhari probably remembers that this is why his predecessor President Goodluck Jonathan still has his head up in the skies. He wouldn’t want less for himself after May 29.

The president sees what many, including El-Rufai, do not see as it does with governance. He knows the landmines in Nigeria.

It is an unconscionable audacity for El-Rufai to be daring the president in this manner. He cannot engage in wrongful and dangerous deployment of his immunity by going overboard. The vituperation and gang-ups against the president are attitudes the governor would not tolerate from anyone else against Mr. President, especially from the other divide.

But many believe that it is high time the federal government reined in all forces within his ruling APC who, for their selfish political ambition, are pushing the country to the brink.

May El-Rufai not derail Nigeria in 2023.

Ibe lives in Lagos.


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Ifeanyi Ibe
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