News The African Way

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, My Hero Of The 2023 Presidential Contest, By Ismail Omipidan

I may not be qualified to call myself a Kaduna boy in the real sense of it, having been born in Otukpo, Benue State. But as a man who lived in Kaduna State cumulatively for 15 years, I can claim the citizenship of Kaduna. However, that is not the crux of my piece. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, former FCT Minister and incumbent Kaduna Governor is the focus of this piece.

Last Thursday, on the night the campaign ended, we had a special interactive session on Radio, where my Principal, Adegboyega Oyetola, Mallam El-Rufai, a former Borno Governor, Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, SSA to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters, Senator Jide Omoworare, a former Lagos SSG and current Environment Commissioner, Mr. Tunji Bello and host of others spoke forcefully and convincingly on why Nigerians should vote for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Specifically, Dibal and El-Rufai spoke to the Hausa audience in Osun and its environs on why the north must honour the existing understanding to allow power shift to the South and went further to explain why it has to be South-West.

El-Rufai, in that interactive session, which threw the PDP in Osun off the balance, said among other things that: “The situation in the north is that we believe that after the eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari, based on our understanding at the beginning of the formation of APC, the presidency should go to the south. It is in the southwest that we have most governors. It is in the southwest that we had major contributions to the life of APC and Buhari’s victory from the South and this is part of our reasons that we all rallied round to support the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as our candidate.

“We are working very hard in the north to ensure that Asiwaju wins in every state of northern states of Nigeria. We know that there are challenges in *done* states that are purely along religious lines, but most of the States in the North are going to vote solidly for Asiwaju because we so much believe in this handshake across the Niger. We believe that what we have in common with the southwest traditionally is the way we respect our elders, the way we have traded over the years, over centuries and the fact that we have Islamic religion and Christianity in common, makes southwest a partner.

“So, all hands are on deck. We are working round the clock, and by the grace of God, on Saturday, our people will go out en masse to elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” he said.

And true to his word, the north was there for Tinubu last Saturday. We thank the north and people like El-Rufai for walking their talk.

So far, Governor El-Rufai has shown by words and actions that he is a rebel with a cause. The way he handled the currency re-design policy of the Emefiele-led CBN, which many believed was ochestrated to reduce the chances of APC retaining the presidency, shows clearly that he is a courageous leader and one who is concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of his followers.

But this is not the first time El-Rufai will be pioneering policies and actions he is convinced would add value to good governance and improve the welfare of the people.

He was the first to abolish military checkpoints inherited by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration before the Federal Government too followed suit, shortly after assumption of office in 2015.

As the then Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, from 2003-2007, he pioneered and popularised town hall meetings that enabled him not only to get feedbacks from FCT residents, but also inputs on how best to run the nation’s capital. And by the time he left office, despite some of the misgivings Nigerians have against him, especially on the issue of demolition, it appears FCT has never had any minister after him.

Back in Kaduna, he again introduced the town hall meeting. But beyond introducing the town hall meeting in Kaduna, the Kaduna State governor, since assuming office, has continued to blaze the trail, in several respects.

Apart from transforming Kaduna beyond imagination and attracting big industries to the State, he was the first governor under the current dispensation to announce a 50 percent cut in his salary and that of his then deputy, the late Bantex, including reducing the overheads of the ministries and MDAs. He was the first to reduce government ministries , thus reducing commissioners with a view to cutting down the cost of governance.

He was also the first governor to announce the abolition of State/LG Joint accounts.

Although pioneered by Ogun State under Mrs. Kemi Adesoun as finance commissioner, El-Rufai, was the first governor to popularise the Single Treasury Account (TSA), before it was embraced by the Federal Government. And so far, he remains the first and only governor who attached portfolios to his commissioner designates before sending the list to the state Assembly for screening and confirmation, a thing Nigerians from all walks of life had been clamouring for.

Only recently, El-Rufai scored another first, this time around in the North, when he picked a woman and a fellow Muslim as running mate in the build up to the 2019 elections. Despite the avalanche of opposition against his choice, El-Rufai won his re-election. Though a Muslim, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, the deputy governor, is from Southern Kaduna, an area that has been producing the deputy governor since 1991.

El-Rufai is indeed my own hero of this presidential contest. I see him as a rebel with cause. Let those who accuse him of treasonable felony for standing by the law of the land say something else. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is a goal!

Omipidan, a journalist and a Public Affairs analyst writes from Ile Olorisa Compound, Eyindi, Ila Orangun.

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