- Governor el-Rufai of Kaduna State cannot hide. What he lacks in the gift of presence, he makes up in stoking controversies. Barely three months in office, he is the most talked about governor of this dispensation both for good and for bad in almost equal measure, writes BASHIR BELLO
Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State can be said to be one of the few newly elected governors who did not waste any time fitting in. He hit the ground running. This is evidenced in the number of policies so far put in place in the state within his first 100 days in office.
Some of the government policies includes ban on fertilizers for traditional leaders and politicians, ban on government sponsorship of pilgrimage, ban on feeding (Ramadan and Christmas), ban on street begging and hawking, demolition exercise, civil servant verification exercise, free basic and compulsory education, and Treasury Single Account among others.
Government policies such as ban on street begging and hawking and demolition exercise have raised a lot of dust and tension in the state.
Expectedly, the governor’s policies have divided opinions amongst stakeholders and commentator alike.
A group under the auspices of Coalition of Kaduna Progressives said with El-Rufai’s style of leadership, it is passing vote of confidence on the administration.
The group which carried out a 100 days assessment of El-Rufai’s administration in the areas of security, education, health, job creation and anti-corruption drive, so far scored the administration high as it said the administration has achieved tremendous successes.
The Coalition in a statement signed by its National President and Secretary, Kibai Kwallah and Mock Kure respectively said the steps taken so far by the state government were convincing and commendable.
According to them, “Kaduna State today is now becoming the envy of many states in the country. The feedback coming out from the leadership steps taken by His Excellency and his team is convincing. Governor Nasir El-Rufai is restoring the glory of Kaduna State back on track.
“From the foregoing, we wish to reaffirm our confidence in this government and we will continue to render unflinching support to his efforts to make Kaduna State great again.
“We wish to state that Malam Nasir El-Rufai is human and hence fallible, some of his decisions might not go down well with some individuals, however, we believe it is in the best interest of the majority.”
On the other hand, another group known as Centrum Initiative For Development and Fundamental Rights Initiative, CEDRA criticized the El-Rufai policies so far saying Kaduna State under the All Progressives Congress, APC led government is sliding into a democratic dictatorship and disaster awaits the state.
Chairman, Board of Trustees and Executive Director of CEDRA, Dr. John Danfulani based his argument on the fact that El-Rufai’s policies so far in the state lacks proper planning and consultations, which he said was responsible for all efforts and actions taken by the government boomeranging.
On appointments, CEDRA issued a 48 hours ultimatum to the governor to sack his Special Adviser on Investments Promotion, Jimmy Lawal who is allegedly on wanted list of the United States or the organisation would be forced to take actions against the governor.
According to Danfulani, “Mr. Lawal is a character enmeshed in multiple scandals in private sector and also reported by Saharareporter as a wanted man in the United States of America for fraud related offences.
“As long as Lawal is in the loop, the government of El-Rufai will continue to suffer moral deficiency and lack of trust from the people.
“If El-Rufai’s claim of running a transparent, sensitive, responsive and credible government is true, he should immediately sack Mr. Jimmy Lawal so that he can go clear himself of multifaceted allegations hanging on his neck.
“If indeed Mr. Lawal is wanted in the US, what happens if the state has business with any American firm or organisation and the Special Adviser on Investments Promotion is needed to do some paperwork, how will he be there?
“If governor El-Rufai insists on keeping a man that a Google search of his name will give thousands of links carrying scandalous stories in his government, then there is more than meets the eye in the entire affairs.
”CEDRA believes that El-Rufai’i’s appointments and retirements so far did not put ethno-religious composition of the state into consideration. Of the 13 commissioners appointed, only four are Christians and the remaining 9 are Moslems. Of the remaining Permanent Secretaries in the state, only three are Christians. Of the most senior and key officers of his administration like Chief of Staff, Principal Private Secretary, PPS and Secretary to the State Government, SSG, none is a Christian and from Southern Kaduna.
“This lopsidedness in his appointment is brewing hatred and further polarizing a very volatile state like Kaduna that is known for its ethno-religious skirmishes. In all the political parlances of Southern Kaduna and Christian community suggest that irredentism and bigotry they accused him of, is gradually unfolding,” Danfulani and his group stated.
Continuing CEDRA said, “So lack of planning and consultation before taking actions, you can see the repercussions as every effort and actions taken are boomeranging. Because we have crop of leaders who believe that they don’t need advices and consultations before taking any decisions.
“And a mandate giver today in Kaduna is being treated like a beast of burden not as a man of celestial spirit as known in the democracy worldwide. I think we are heading towards precipice. There is a disaster awaiting this state and if people don’t rise up to talk, I’m telling you something very clumsy will happen outside democracy.
“If care is not thinking I see us sliding to a democratic dictatorship and we must rise and talk. No leader should be allowed to act the way he or she wants because of any perceived executive powers.”
Some critics also went ahead to say El-Rufai’s policies like the demolition exercise and ban on street begging and hawking are untimely for a government that is yet to put anything on to keep Kaduna clean or ensure environmental sanitation in the state but has gone on to demolish peoples houses.
Meanwhile, el-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Political matters, Alhaji Uba Sani described the governor’s critics as being mischievous and only out to score cheap political points.
According to him, “I think the issue of recovering some lands that belong to schools and hospitals in the state is a very straight forward one. You will recall that during the campaign Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i promised he was going to make six things his priority, namely education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, security, youth and women empowerment. These sectors are the most important issues for this government. That is the reason why when he assumed office we believe education, which is the bed rock of any society, should be given full attention. So, he decided to first of all create an enabling environment for our secondary school students in the state. To get a full picture of the situation, we went round all the secondary schools and even some primary schools too. You see, government’s effort was to ensure that our children have the best education this time around. We realized that the first thing we needed to do was to give them a very conducive environment.
“Though the government has started making positive impact in many other areas, nobody is talking about them. People are busy making a lot of noise on the demolition. I expected people to commend the government on some of the things we have started doing, that are positive when it comes to educational development in the state.
“As I speak to you now, nobody is talking about the move by the government of Nasiru El-Rufai to provide all the junior and senior secondary school children in the state with free and customized tablets (computers). The tablets will have all schools’ syllabus, WAEC past questions and answers, text books ranging from English, Mathematics, and Sciences to Social studies and so on. Again, nobody is also talking about free uniforms. They are not talking about the free education that this government has introduced from primary to junior secondary school. They are not talking about the free feeding for primary school that we are about to start. We realized that the state also needs quality teachers; so after providing them with these things, they need to have quality teachers and in doing that, the government has decided to send the teachers for training and increase their salaries, which will be one of the best in the country.
“Besides that, when we visited some of the primary schools in the state we discovered that in most schools’ pupils sat on bare floor, during school hours. No chairs, no tables. But as I talk to you now, we are working hard to see that all the primary schools in the state have chairs and tables when they resume in September.
“Most importantly we have recorded tremendous success in the area of security in the state. Before we came on board, cattle rustling was rampant. There were mysterious politically-motivated killing in many parts of this state. Now crime rate is going down seriously. Insecurity has been reduced to the barest minimum because you now have a leader who is more sensitive to the problems of his people. You now have a leader with viable solutions to the challenges of insecurity in Kaduna State. Many of our so-called critics do not want to comment on insecurity because they would have no concrete criticism to make,” Sani argued.