Kaduna 2023: Peep inside Gov El-Rufai’s trickeries, succession plan

Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai PHOTO: TWITTER/GOVERNOR KADUNA

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai recently scratched the subject of who might succeed him come 2023. El Rufai, being a lover of political power play loves to test volatile waters to know when they are safe to sail. That pronouncement of his has opened up the race to Kashim Ibrahim House to all manner of permutations and schemes.

While it is still some three years away, the Governor has inadvertently blown the whistle for those who may be interested to come and slug it out in the All Progressives Congress (APC). It also provides a beacon for those in the opposition to know where they stand in the race.

El Rufai said about ten persons have indicated interest to succeed him, but he wouldn’t be too sure who among the ten would clinch the job. Just as he denied the speculation that he had anointed anybody for the top job, he characteristically punned that his successor might be a woman.

Despite confessing that the race might be open to all and anyone who met the criteria for the job, he let out what his preference might be. Those who are not strangers to el Rufai’s schemes knew exactly what his calculations could be.

So far, among those who are already showing interest to be given the ticket of the APC are: the Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Ubah Sani, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, the current Chief of Staff, Government House, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, also known as Dattijo and the former commissioner of Finance and now, Senator representing Kaduna North zone, Suleiman Abdu
Kwari.

These are the prominent men and women el-Rufai has allegedly given his nod as aspirants who are in his good book.

However, since he has publicly declared his preference for a female politician, ordinarily the odds should favour his current deputy. But that may not be so because of the other powerful female personality who happened to be behind the struggles that led to el Rufai’s electoral successes so far.

[FILE PHOTO] Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman

Hadiza Bala Usman, an activist and the present MD of NPA was also the former Chief of Staff in Kaduna Government House before she was later moved to a strategic position in NPA to be groomed for a bigger task.

Hadiza, the daughter of the late legendary historian, Bala Usman (a radical socialist) and married to the former Economic Adviser to former President Umaru Yar’adua, Tanimu Kurfi has been of immense help to the consolidation of the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Her financial contributions since she became the Managing Director of NPA to the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor el-Rufai is reported to be huge. And she’s got a lot of brains too. So, when it is a matter of ‘cash’ or ideas, she would be an aspirant to bank on. And she has been with el Rufai since their days at the Federal Capital Territory.

Another politician that had played himself into the heart of el-Rufai is Senator Ubah Sani, whom the Kaduna public believed could easily win a governorship ticket because of his long-standing relationship with the Governor. Sani single-handedly delivered the 23 local government areas in the council elections that paved the way for the 2019 victory. The machinery that wrought that victory is credited to Sani.

However, it is not likely that the earlier agreement to support Senator Ubah Sani would materialise given the overriding factor of the preference of el-Rufai for a female politician to succeed him in office.

Again, gauging the stature of the contenders, the two female politicians in the list of the Governor seem to have more intellectual and academic credentials compared to the their male counterparts, who are said to be some steps behind.

Since the search for El-Rufai’s successor started, the Governor has warned that agitators should not allow the issue override his agenda of providing dividends for democracy for the people.

El-Rufai said: “We were given the mandate to administer the state for the next four years and we have not spent even one year and people have started coming out to aspire. To me, this is not only a distraction but a disservice to the people who voted us.”

The Governor also pointed out that it was for this reason that “I called a meeting of stakeholders and warned those in government to be careful as I am ready to deal with anyone of them who abandons his responsibility for politicking.”

He said the journey is still very far as the situation on ground still needs a radical approach to turn the state into a buoyant economy.

Regarding those who are aspiring he said: “I know each one of them is eminently qualified to rule and transform the state if given the mandate but let’s work first to justify the mandate given to us by the people of Kaduna State.”

Meanwhile members of opposition parties in the state have started reacting to plans by the APC government to foist itself on the people for another four years after 2023, when they should be concerned about deepening democracy and ensuring credible polls that will usher in a legitimate leadership.

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Stalwart and Deputy Publicity Secretary in the State, Comrade Sarki Danjuma faulted Governor el-Rufai’s comments on the his likely successor, saying that “from all indications the APC government thinks it will be business as usual by planning to map out succession agenda for the governorship.”

He said, “You see, we are wiser now. They cannot come again and think that they can do what they did in 2019 general elections and succeed. We are prepared for them. You can see what the APC has turned the state into. Poverty all over, and you think Kaduna People will accept what happened in the past when the mandate was stolen? In 2023, it will be a different ball game. El-Rufai and his people cannot have their way, they will fail woefully.”

Danjuma argued that for the Governor, his party men and those in offices to be plotting among themselves who will succeed the Governor in 2023 shows how desperate el-Rufai is in the face of a failed government in the State. What has el-Rufai and his principal in Abuja done so far in the country to transform Kaduna State and Nigeria that would warrant them to produce another government in 2023? They have drawn the country backward. We cannot continue with the mess if the state and Nigeria must survive,” he added.

The State secretary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Yahaya Pate declined comment on the issue, when The Guardian called him on telephone; however other politicians reacted on the succession plan.

The former Publicity of APC Akida, Alhaji Murtala Muhammad, said  “Just as the Governor observed, it is really too early for people to start struggling for the office of the Governor for 2023, but, because of the nature of our politics in this part of the world, politics has turned into a major industry. So people are struggling out of desperation, and some other people don’t want to go, they want to hold on to power by all means. It is surprising to see people struggling for the seat of power at this early stage.”

He explained that “the Governor said that over 10 people are already struggling for his position and struggling to succeed him in 2023” but, the people who are struggling to succeed him are those close to him and they are from his kitchen cabinet, and that is to tell you that even at that level there is no proper leadership plan.”

“This is because in a proper democratic setting, any serious leader, when he is finishing his second tenure is supposed to have a succession plan. If there is somebody you are grooming, every other person within the circle should understand that this is the next in line. So, if that kind of arrangement is not there and the people who are within his own group are not aware of that, or if they are aware and they are challenging it; it is to show you that el Rufai is not a good leader who can bring all interests together and settle on one person who everybody will rally round.”

According to Muhammad, “what he said is that we should not be surprised if he hands over to a female politician. And his emphasis is that he will hand over to a young person. In fact, this is a bone of contention that has even set the house against itself, because there are people that are very close to him; some in the Senate and others holding other positions who have already positioned themselves to succeed him and that statement of the Governor has already threatened their interest and ambition for 2023.

“And that is why you are seeing all the maneuvering that is happening now within the camp. Some criticizing why the Governor should come out to voice such a thing and that it is early for them to start struggling over who would succeed him. So, essentially, it is not about the age or gender, what Kaduna people are looking for is competency. So, we want to see that whoever will succeed the Governor is a competent leader. It is not even for him to say who will succeed him, but for the people of Kaduna to vote for somebody who is competent and has what it takes to govern them.”

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