Governor Nasir El-Rufai And His “Political Opponents” By Emmanuel Ado




” If you want to make enemies, try to change something” – Woodrow Wilson 

Man inadvertently makes enemies either at work place or in his social relationships and there are legion of reasons – from the mundane to the serious- why people dislike people. The other interesting  dimension about the hate business is that whether  people love you or love to hate you is certainly out of your hands, it’s   definitely beyond the control of any man. Even genuine efforts at correcting perceptions have in several instances tragically failed because of deep seated hatred or for some inexplicable grudges. The only option is developing a thick skin and learning to live with those who intensely dislike or hate you , because there is no known script on how to avoid making enemies. 

Nasir El-Rufai , the governor of Kaduna State has powerful political enemies most of whom by the way he made  in the line of duty, as Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises(BPE), and as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory where to the acclaim of many he restored the master plan of Abuja and introduced many landmark policies like the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS). How can El- Rufai demolish the houses of the high and mighty and that of the poor without making enemies for life or courting their anger? Though Nasir El-Rufai has been portrayed as one who has sinned more , than he has been sinned against, the fact is contrary. But the narrative  is understandable considering that his known political enemies includes the likes of Atiku Abubakar, the Vice President under whom he worked in the BPE , Bukola Saraki the President of the Senate and the likes of Senators Shehu Sani and Suleiman Hunkuyi who were essentially deployed to harass El-Rufai. 

Like Woodrow Wilson said ” If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Wilson must have had the reformists like El -Rufai in mind because rocking the boat, shaking up things in a determined bid to make them better is the essential Nasir El – Rufai,Mallam to his legion of fanatical supporters. In his desire to reposition Kaduna State , El – Rufai has obviously imbibed the eternal words of Abraham Lincoln that “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time,but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Which is not to say that he doesn’t worry about the perception of people about him,but what can he do when he is constantly misunderstood? 

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Nasir El-Rufai a die hard reformist has since he became governor shaken up every sector- from the Public Service to the Agricultural Sector,which kaduna State surly and obviously needed,but entrenched forces including civil servants have vigorously resisted. Kaduna State,the Center of Learning lagged behind states like Jigawa and Katsina in about every area,most especially in education, infrastructure and the public service which use to be the envy of other states. In one word kaduna State was creaky and had stagnated. 

El-Rufai like every man wants to be liked,but obviously for doing what is right and not for condoning wrong. His zero tolerance for the “routine” , it can be argued comes from his questioning nature ,that rebels, that challenges status quo,from a DNA that didn’t come with a “play safe” mode. Nasir El Rufai is not courageous,but conviction personified which  explains why has taken not one difficult decision ,but several difficult decisions in his first term,which other politicians have usually pushed to their second term. Take for instance,the dysfunctional public service that was largely unproductive, an aging workforce that lacked capacity to deliver,but very focused on taking care of itself – recurrent budget is always implemented as opposed to capital expenditure. For El – Rufai this clearly was repulsive, because government is for the common good of all and not a tinny minority,that in actual fact already “over” benefit from the resources accruing to the state in terms of wages etc. Thankfully the budget figures released by the Economic Planning  shows an expenditure that’s in favour of capital expenditure,which  explains the steady growth the state has continued to witness. 

There was never any doubt about El – Rufai’s capacity to “shake up” a stagnant Kaduna State,which had predictably fallen into a state of decay,with the likes of Namadi Sambo and his protege Ramallan Yero ,who lacked vision and any conviction as governors. Sambo and Yero are “twin towers” of governance defined more by looks – starched babanriga and designer sunshades- than by substance.Their times as governors remain dark chapters in the history of Kaduna State.Sambo whose motto from day one was”promises kept”,kept none of his unwieldy 11 point agenda.His legacy remains the 20 billion naira  office complex,that is in every respect in terms of functionality an architectural nightmare , which compared to the brand new Government House Complex built by Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State for less than 10 billion naira is a rip off.

READ ALSO:   El-Rufai's resignation order - Full list of those affected

The real area where El -Rufai has obviously stepped on toes is in the political arena. For the political merchants who were  used to all manner of appointments Nasir El-Rufai is bad news. Even though the opposition have made efforts to masquerade behind the various reforms, like the urban renewal programmes,the civil service revitalization programme and the sales of the badly dilapidated government quarters to fight him , the truth remains that groups like the Kaduna Restoration Group,made up of enlightened people , many of whom  in fact hold citizenship of countries like United States,are fiercely opposed to El- Rufai, for appointing non – indigenes into executive positions. When it suites groups like these they question the indigene and non indigene policy,but when it shuts them out they cry foul. The big question is how can a Nigerian be shut out from contributing his/her quota to a state where by birth he/she should comfortably lay claim to? The political brouhaha of some Kaduna State “stakeholders” has to do with the governors demonstrated faith in Nigeria and trust in people from other parts of the country. 

The kaduna State Citizenship Programme of Governor Nasir El -Rufai by action and by words demonstrates this patriotism. In practical terms the policy seeks to acknowledge everyone born or resident in Kaduna State as a citizen,with same rights as an indigene. Clearly the governor and groups like the Restoration group are miles apart,in terms of their World views. In a warfare,all is said to be fair, but there is and there must be a limit to politics. It is deeply worrying that the opposition to the so called “non-indigenes” is based on their tribe, and this definitely has dangerous implications for our dear country. 

America has remained great,unlike other once great countries like “Great Britain” that collapsed , because it has continued to renew itself by attracting the very best from all over the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger,an Austrian- American only migrated to America at the age of 21, and that didn’t stop him from becoming a two term Governor of California state,the fourth largest economy of the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger in fact is the second foreign born governor of California. Back home in Nigeria,Adams Oshiomhole,the former governor of Edo State literally hijacked the late Olaitan Oyerinde from the Nigerian Labour  Congress to be his Principal Private Secretary,because like El -Rufai he was looking for loyalty, trust, capacity and competency. So the three  (3) Ibos in his cabinet are first and fit most Nigerians who happen to be Ibos. 

READ ALSO:   El-Rufai's resignation order - Full list of those affected

The problem of El – Rufai with the opposition was no doubt been worsened by the very “lean” government of the All Progressive Congress(APC), at the State and federal levels. So in the Sahara desert of appointments,the political elite believes that the “foreign” appointees  “short changed” Kaduna State indigenes, hence the loud noise. Nigerian elites are appointment driven,so Kaduna State or Nigeria is only okay depending on whether they are patronized or not.Thats not to say that they are not entitled to rewards for their efforts in getting El- Rufai, the snag is that the money is not just there anymore to support the retinue of Special Assistants,who in the true sense are only important as Party delegates. 

In the United States of America,people back candidates who will initiate policies – lower taxes, or embark on healthcare reforms or other programmes that will further free enterprise, in Nigeria everyone wants lucrative appointments and not incentives for manufacturing,because they have never manufactured and have no plans of ever manufacturing  anything in their life. Not many people remember the famous K.O is not OK headline of the Daily Times newspaper. K. O. Mbadiwe,the flamboyant politician from present Imo State had been left out in the cold by President Shehu Shagari,in spite of his “timber and caterpillar ” contributions to the success of the National Party of Nigeria at the polls. K. O only became OK, when he was eventually settled with an ambassadorial position. 

All public policies have costs and benefits, winners and losers. But the fact remains that overall good should guide public action. His actions in the FCT and in Kaduna State definitely hurt some few people who by the way  broke the law. The benefits he left in Abuja was an organised, orderly city, with high quality of social services. And in his first term in Kaduna State, Nasir El- Rufai has definitely given a credible account of himself  – from the swift implementation of governance reforms,like the Treasury Single Account, zero-based budgeting, taxation, investments, a digital land registry and public procurement, government anchored on pro-people development to his policy of national unity. He has shown the way to national unity and cohesion.  Like Anwar Sadat the late Egyptian president said” There can be hope only for a society, which acts as one big family, not as many”. 




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