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HomeTop NewsThe Travail of ‘accidental civil servant’ El-Rufai in his second journey to...

The Travail of ‘accidental civil servant’ El-Rufai in his second journey to become minister

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By Oludare Mayowa

The former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, is undeniably a very controversial personality who has traversed the power corridor since the inception of Democracy in 1999.

He was first appointed the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), where he worked with the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who also headed the National Council of Privatization (NCP), which was the clearing house of the government privatization program.

Not long after, then President Olusegun Obasanjo found him worthy enough to make him minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). El-Rufai’s performance at the FCT further consolidates his reputation as a pragmatic and effective leader. It also cemented his reputation as the most controversial public official to date, as his policy to reclaim the master plan of Abuja became the most effective and yet most controversial of his actions in public office until he became the governor of his state in 2015.

What gave him the governorship election in Kaduna was his performance at the FCT, which many saw as his best performance and a credential booster for him.

However, as part of his many controversies, he was at loggerheads with Atiku Abubakar, who was reputed to have been instrumental to his appointment as the BPE DG and subsequently the minister of FCT.

While Atiku fell out with his boss, President Obasanjo, the former Kaduna governor took sides and jettisoned his supposed benefactor to remain relevant in the scheme of things.

In the precursor to the 2015 general election, El-rufai became a prominent personality around the immediate past president, Mohammadu Buhari, and subsequently became the governor of Kaduna, where he spent the last eight years governing.

Many had expected a spectacular performance from him considering his feats and ruthless enforcement of order in Abuja as the minister in his efforts to restore the master plan of the capital city.

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However, from all indications, his performance fell short of the expectations of those who admired him and looked forward to a stellar performance as governor.

Rather than pursuing developmental activities that would bring relief to the people of the state, he was enmeshed in politics of religion and divisiveness, which perhaps distracted him from achieving the maximum for his people.

The people of southern Kaduna today remain marginalized in the scheme of things, as he considers Christians in the state second-class citizens and directs his policy of annihilation toward that section of the state.

The first salvo to demonstrate his disdain for Christianity in the state was his decision to choose a fellow Muslim as his deputy, saying even if he chose a person of another religion, the people belonging to that faith would still not vote for him.

Though he canvassed a hard-line position against bandits and those who are involved in the deliberate annihilation of the people of Southern Kaduna with the intention to grab their land from them, no fewer people believe that he was merely playing to the gallery with his campaigning.

As governor, he failed to take proactive measures to curb the killings in southern Kaduna by suspected Fulani jihadists who seek to take over the land from the indigenous and covert it for their cattle grazing.

Despite his religious fanaticism, however, his relationship with Islamic clerics in the state was not as smooth as it ought to be. The way and manner in which he dealt with Sheik Zakyzaky will continue to be a reference point in despotism. Admittedly, the Sheik and his followers were often excessive in their religious activities, but El-Rufai, as leader, failed to demonstrate tolerance in his response to the religious sect’s activities.

He ruthlessly dealt with the sect and almost crippled the activities of the sect in the state because of his major disagreement with them.

Also, El-Rufai has the capacity to speak in support of whatever cause could benefit him personally and his close interests. Take, for instance, his initial campaign against the dominance of President Bola Tinubu in the politics of Lagos. He had indirectly pushed against the continued domination of Lagos politics and did not hide his disdain for Tinubu’s politics in Lagos.

However, his sudden volte face in the run-up to the presidential primary election of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) last year in support of Tinubu demonstrated his love for controversy and ability to read trends and align appropriately as they suit his interests.

Having noticed that the immediate past president, Mohammadu Buhari, was gradually losing grip on the party and politics, he quickly switched to the side of Tinubu and pushed forcefully his support to ensure the emergence of the former Lagos Governor as the candidate of the part and subsequently the 16th president of Nigeria.

El-Rufai was reported last week to have withdrawn interest in becoming one of President Tinubu’s cabinet members after he faced stiff opposition from the National Assembly for his clearance as one of the nominees. The report says that his journey toward becoming a minister of the federal republic for the second time was truncated by the damning security report, which was largely seen as a mere excuse to finally nail him and reduce his political influence within the politics.

By not confirming him, he may have been disempowered by the powers that be from causing any upset within the politics of the next dispensation. Politicians usually look forward to the next election immediately after they finish one election. His being denied confirmation by the Senate, using the instrument of Security report may be his adversary way of getting at him and paying him back in his own coin.

Analysts are saying that the travails of El-Rufai at the Senate were unusual and that if the president really wanted him in his cabinet, he would have influenced it and paved the way for his clearance by the security agency and subsequent confirmation by the senators.

El-Rufai was not a stranger to Senate politics because he once had an issue with his confirmation during the Obasanjo administration, but the president stepped in and he was eventually cleared by the Senate to later become the FCT minister.

As some analysts claimed, El-Rufai may have been a victim of the politics of 2027, and by his rejection in the Senate, using a security report, his adversary may have succeeded in clipping his wings and reducing his ability to remain relevant in the party in the future. The plan was to raise another political leader within his territory in a bid to checkmate and reduce his influence in the scheme of things.

The coming days will unveil the cloud around the politics of his rejection as a ministerial nominee by the Senate beyond the claim of the security report. Since he was the one who volunteered to withdraw interest in the ministerial position, his adversary may have successfully deflected blame from the president and his inner team for now.

The question is would El-Rufai be able to bounce back to the political reckoning after his Doctoral voyage to the Netherlands or would his status remain diminished by his political adversary and who hope to retire him to the political sidewalk?

(Contact; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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