El-Rufai Testing the Waters for 2023?

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Nasir-el-Rufai

Recently a group known as “Nasiriya Organisation” disclosed that it had filed a suit to compel the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to contest the 2023 Presidential election. John Shiklam writes that since the group made the declaration, there are insinuations that the governor is sponsoring the group to promote and test the waters for his presidential ambition.

The recent declaration of a group known as ‘Nassiriya Organisation’ to compel the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to contest the 2023 presidential election has attracted mixed reactions among supporters of the governor and his critics.

The Nassiriya Organisation, is said to be a support group for the alleged 2023 presidential ambition of the governor.There are insinuations that the group is being sponsored by the governor to “test the waters for his “Presidential ambition.”

But his political adviser, Mr. Ben Kure dismissed such insinuations as unfair and unjust, maintaining that the governor has never met the group.

El-Rufai himself had publicly declared that he has no interest in the 2023 presidency.

In an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) sometime in August 2020, El-Rufai said the next president of Nigeria should come from the south, maintaining that he will not
support a northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

In the interview, the governor also said insinuations about his presidential ambition was baseless, stressing that he does not have any interest in the seat.

“In Nigerian politics, there is a system of rotation, in which everyone agrees that if the north rules for eight years, the south will rule for eight years.

“That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari has been in office for eight years, no northerner should run for office. Let the Southerners also have eight years…

“It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not, if He wants it, He will give it to you, but I have never sought the presidency of Nigeria, no one can say I have ever sought it,” El-Rufai was quoted by the BBC.

However, the National leader of the Nassiriya Organisation, who is also the Zonal Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Garkuwa Babuga recently told journalists in Kaduna that his group had filed a suit at a Kaduna High Court to compel El-Rufai to contest the 2023 election, having declined their request.

Babuga said the group has members in 21 states of the federation, adding that El-Rufai is the best candidate based on his track record of achievements.

According to him, “Many people are yearning for an El- Rufai presidency. I don’t have to overblow the trumpet, you all have seen his developmental strides in the FCT and in Kaduna state.

“He is the best person for the Villa in 2023.

“Let’s continue to be loyal and support President Buhari to complete his tenure. But El- Rufai as president and successor to Buhari will further unite Nigeria.”

Speaking further Babuga appealed to “elders in the North, to please forget party differences, we should join forces and rally round El- Rufai so that he can contest and win the presidency.”

He said “Although he did not answer our call, we have gone to court so as to compel El-Rufai to vie for the number one seat in Nigeria…”

However, the action of the group has sparked mixed reactions, with some people alleging that the group is being “sponsored by the governor to promote his presidential ambition”.

In his reaction, the President of the Arewa Defence League (ADL), Mr. Murtala Abubakar described the action of the Nassiriya Organisation as ridiculous and laughable.

In an interview with THISDAY, Abubakar said the action is typical of Nigerian politicians who believe in fooling Nigerians to vote for them.

According to him, “This court action to compel Governor Nasir El -Rufai to contest, 2023 presidential election is not only ridiculous but laughable.

“Typical of Nigerian politicians especially of the APC, who always believe that to get votes, you have to fool Nigerians. They always like to pretend that the office they contest for is not only out of their personal desire but for respect they hold for popular demands.”

Abubakar maintained that “Nigerian politicians enjoy taking Nigerians for a ride by engaging in double standard and speak from both sides of their mouth.”

He said, “going to court by this group is a strategy to test the waters for El-Rufai. One, to see how Nigerians react to the idea of his presidential ambition and two; to help him from the shame of seeing him regurgitate his earlier position of conceding the presidency to the southern part of the country come 2023.”

Speaking in a similar vein, a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna state, Dr. Abdulrahman Usman, said the same gimmick that played out during the Abacha era is repeating itself.

“It is a very laughable thing. We have seen this kind of shenanigan during the Gen. Abacha days when he had the Kanu one million man march,” Usman said.

According to him, “It is a set up. As far I am concerned, El-Rufai will not fly for the position of President, even Vice President he will not fly…Nigeria will become divided because he is a very nepotistic governor.

“You can see how his governance style that lacks human face has impacted very negatively on the social and cultural harmony that used to prevail in Kaduna state. Today, we are more divided,” he alleged.

Usman further alleged that under the El-Rufai administration in Kaduna state “There is no justice, there is no fairness and for me, as far as I am concerned as a Nigerian and as an indigene of Kaduna state, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We will reject an El-Rufai Presidency in Nigeria.”

But rising in defence of the governor and the Nassiriya Organisation, the Kaduna state Acting Secretary of the APC, Mr. Yahaya Baba Pate, argued that as citizens, the group is entitled to express its opinions.

He said the group has seen good governance in Kaduna and want the governor to be President so that Nigerians can enjoy good governance.

“As citizens, members of the Nassiriya Organisation are entitled to express their wish. Going to court to ask the governor to contest is just an expression of what they want.

“They have seen good governance in Kaduna state and they want it in Nigeria, I think that is why they want Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to contest the Presidency. “They have seen the obvious development going on in Kaduna state in all sectors, education, agric, health, infrastructure development and what have you.

“But the decision to contest the Presidency rests squarely on the governor whether he wants to contest or not,” Pate said.

He dismissed insinuations that the governor is sponsoring the group to “test the waters,” declaring that
“El- Rufai is not such a person that will have to sponsor people if he has interest in anything.”

According to him, “El-Rufai is competent to be the President, he has given good leadership in all the positions he has held. That is what motivated the group to call him to contest the Presidency in 2023. But as I said, he has the final say.”

Also in his reaction, the political adviser to the governor, Mr. Ben Kure, said it was unjust and unfair for anyone to think that the group is being sponsored by the governor.

He said, “For any person to say this group is sponsored by the governor, is unfair and unjust because it is totally wrong for anybody to think that way.

“I will tell you as a political adviser to the governor, that immediately we were back to the office for the second term, different groups across the country have been coming.

“There is the Nassiriya, there is a group from Delta, Anambra, they keep calling to have courtesy calls with me that they want to meet with the governor.

“As the political adviser, I had to press forward to tell him the overture we are having and pressures from different groups.”

According to Kure, the governor turned down such overtures because he has a mandate to provide good governance in Kaduna state.

“He (the governor) said to me , that we have the social contract with the people of Kaduna state.
“We are given the mandate and we will govern the best way we can. So it is time for business of governance and not for politics…” Kure said.

He said further that, “Those who are going to court to sue the governor if he doesn’t (contest the presidency), what is their own? Everybody has the right.

“Nigeria is a country where there is freedom of speech and association…

“He is focused so it will be unfair, it will be unjust for anybody to wake up because anything that is wrong they say ‘El-Rufai’, people don’t want to look at the good things the man is doing in the country. He is doing so much…”
Asked whether the governor was aware of the group, Kure said “Nassiriya is everywhere, they are on the social media, he must have seen them.”

But he admitted that he has met the group.

“Of course I have met them, they paid a courtesy call, but the governor has never met with them to the best of my knowledge.”

Speaking further Kure said the group was referred to him, adding that he has been interacting with them.
“They were referred to me, I am the one that interfaces with them and I told them to please leave us alone, we are concerned with governance and nothing else.

“There are many groups. In fact the Nassiriya are almost three. Some already have an office in Jos and so many places. The governor’s heart is not there, it is just an agitation by people who believe the governor has what it takes to lead Nigeria and you cannot take that away from them.

“It is their conviction and it is because of what they see in his leadership,” Kure said.

He recalled that “The governor said not quite long that in fairness the Presidency should go to the South…It is unfair for anybody to say the governor is sponsoring them.

“It is too early for anybody to come and distract us from the focus of governing Kaduna state.”

Whether the governor is interested in the presidency or not, the truth will prevail as political activities for the 2023 presidency unfold.

QUOTE

Nigerian politicians enjoy taking Nigerians for a ride by engaging in double standard and speak from both sides of their mouth.”

He said, “going to court by this group is a strategy to test the waters for El-Rufai. One, to see how Nigerians react to the idea of his presidential ambition and two; to help him from the shame of seeing him regurgitate his earlier position of conceding the presidency to the southern part of the country come 2023. Speaking in a similar vein, a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna state, Dr. Abdulrahman Usman, said the same gimmick that played out during the Abacha era is repeating itself. It is a very laughable thing. We have seen this kind of shenanigan during the Gen. Abacha days when he had the Kanu one million man march