Journalism of Courage

I owe my successful foray into politics to God and Pres. Buhari, says Kaduna Gov. el-Rufai

Insisting that he was not nursing any ambition ahead of the 2023 polls, the governor said he would support any candidate that emerged from the APC zoning arrangement particularly candidates from the Southern part of the country whether from Southwest, Southeast or Southsouth.

 

 

Reminiscing about his political exploits since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai on Thursday in Abuja attributed his rise to political limelight, reckoning, and a stint in public service to God and President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

“God has been very kind to me and my outings in public service have all been satisfactory. Why push my luck and go for a job with a 90 percent chance of failure? So I’m not an ambitious person. I’m just a person that gets things done when given the opportunity. I have never desired to run even for this governorship.

 

“It was President Buhari that literally forced me to run; he insisted that some of us should run for governorship just in case he did not get elected again (prior to 2015 polls). He felt that you know, we needed some strong governance. 

 

“Those were the words he used. So I have no aspirations,’’ he said in response to a question on his political future after exiting as a two-term governor in May 2023.

 

El-Rufai spoke at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, covered by State House correspondents.

 

Insisting that he was not nursing any ambition ahead of the 2023 polls, the governor said he would support any candidate that emerged from the APC zoning arrangement particularly candidates from the Southern part of the country whether from Southwest, Southeast or Southsouth.

 

He told the briefing: “APC is what matters and the quality of the person. I have zero ambitions. I just want to finish this job, get on with my private life, write another book and make tons of money. The largest amount of money I ever got in my life was from writing a book titled, “Accidental Public Servant’’.

 

“I have no ambition; I have never had any ambition and if I die today, I am quite accomplished and happy because I never in my life based on my humble background, ever thought I would even enter this building (Aso Rock), ever in my life.’’

 

“The discussion we are having is that the Presidency is zoned to the South. It is not zoned to any particular place in the South. The South will have the first go at it. But we are waiting to see who the aspirants are.” 

 

On the involvement of Fulani in criminality across the country especially kidnapping and others, El-Rufai said they would quit the “business’’ on their own, pointing out that they make more money from criminalities than from the legitimate cattle business.

 

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According to him, kidnapping and terrorism have become big businesses with their collaboration with Boko Haram.

 

He noted that effort at tackling the menace had been somehow “uncoordinated’, saying some governors had the impression that negotiating with the criminals would end banditry and terrorism but said they had realized that it was a big mistake.

 

“Northwest state governments began a process of cooperation and co-financing the military operation against cattle rustling but the operation was not sustained because some of them backed out after some success was recorded only for kidnapping to take over.’’

 

Reeling out statistics of the victims of the criminalities in the state, El-Rufai disclosed that of the reported cases, 937 were killed and 1,972 kidnapped by bandits in the state in 2020, while a total of 1,192 killed and 3,348 kidnapped in 2021.

 

On the capacity of the armed forces in fighting terror and criminalities in the North, the governor said biggest challenge was lack of capacity of Nigeria’s security agencies in terms of adequate personnel and equipment and called for the recruitment of more personnel and procurement of adequate equipment for them.

 

“I am persuaded that the insurgency in the northwest is far more serious than Boko Haram both in terms of the numbers of the people affected. I have shown you the numbers in Kaduna. I can assure you that the numbers on Zamfara, and Katsina are up to three times this if they are keeping taps. The numbers in Sokoto, Niger, and Kebbi will be about this.

 

“We are talking of tens of thousands of people getting killed, getting kidnapped. It is far more serious than Boko Haram. The only thing is that these guys don’t occupy territories, they are in the forest and ungoverned spaces. 

 

“So, they do not attract the kind of single minded attention that Boko Haram does. And because Boko Haram’s ideology is religious, intentionally religious, it elicits more passion but really this is a far more serious problem.

 

“Because this is a situation largely in which people of about the same ethnicity, same religion are killing each other, stealing each other’s property and creating an industry out of criminality. It is very, very serious and it requires single-minded attention.

 

“Yes, we know where these bandits are, we have the maps. But somebody has to go in and kill them. I can’t do that. If that somebody doesn’t have enough men, doesn’t have enough fire power, doesn’t have technology, no one is going to commit suicide.

 

“This is why under this administration, Nigeria’s governors forum collaborated with the federal government to take money from the excess crude account to buy super Tocano jets and other equipment to strengthen our defence system,’’ El-Rufai also explained.

 

On the location and identities of the criminals in the state, he said the state government knows the locations of the bandits terrorising the people and their telephone numbers but regretted that his administration was “handicapped to confront the terrorists’’.

 

“The state government cannot face the terrorists. We need the support of the military to do that. The military must be ready to completely wipe out the criminals terrorising not only Kaduna but most states in the Northwest zone.

 

“There must be sincerity of purpose for the security challenges facing the Northwest to be solved. The military and security agencies should be ready to work together to completely wipe out the terrorists once and for all,’’ the Kaduna chief executive said.

 

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