El-Rufai, the accidental public servant of many hues

The sagacious former Governor of Kaduna state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, is, once again, in the news with his usual controversial stance on government’s policies and decisions. 

Penultimate week, after granting an interview to journalists about his presentation at a capacity-building training for Borno state’s top government officials in Maiduguri, the state capital, he became the hot story on every national daily, both online and mainstream. 

According to him, the Nigerian government has reconsidered returning fuel subsidy, disclosing that the President  Bola Tinubu administration is secretly paying billions of naira in fuel subsidy.

As a journalist with specialisation in fact-checking, I felt the need to investigate his claim because there were no credibility elements in his statement. I quickly ran a keyword search, and the result revealed that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, had refuted the claim and described it as ‘wrong.’

The trouble with El-Rufai started when the Senate withheld his confirmation over security checks during the ministerial screening in August 2023; even though he is a seasoned politician who used to be a minister. 

Since then, he left Nigeria for abroad, failing to attend the wedding ceremony of his son, Bello Nasir El-Rufai. After his return from abroad, he was seen visiting strong politicians from the opposition party, which was said to be a political plot against the 2027 presidential elections. 

This was justified by his son, Bello El-Rufai, in a podcast interview with Seun of Channels Television, where he mentioned that his father and President Tinubu have never been in good terms, citing exchanges of unfriendly remarks in the past.

It is human nature to leave when discomforted or offended; therefore, Malam has the right to not only quit the All Progressives Congress (APC) but also form a new political party, let alone merge with cult-like parties like the Labour Party (LP). 

El-Rufai is an outspoken politician whose relevance has passed because he didn’t have the capacity to deliver his state to the APC, indicating that he is now weak, politically. It’s clear that politics transcends outspokenness. 

Another trouble facing El-Rufai now is with his successor, Governor Uba Sani. At a town hall meeting, Governor Uba Sani said that he inherited a huge debt burden of $587m, N85bn, and 115 contractual liabilities from the immediate-past administration of Nasir El-Rufai, complaining that the huge debt has eaten deep into the state’s federal allocation. 

This has necessitated the formation of a committee by the Kaduna State House of Assembly to probe the El-Rufai administration, even though he has always proudly challenged the people of Kaduna state to uncover any financial wrongdoing by him.

Allegedly, Bello El-Rufai, who proudly identifies himself as a replica and a clone copy of his father in politics, has thrown the public into skepticism regarding the integrity of his father. He was said to have sent insulting words and threats to the Speaker of the Kaduna State Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Liman, since the establishment of the committee to probe his father’s administration that drowned Kaduna in debts, amounting to billions of naira and dollars.

If I were El-Rufai’s son, Bello, I would appreciate the Kaduna state government’s efforts to uphold justice and accountability in the state. I would privately intervene, respectfully, if necessary, without being jittery about the outcome of the investigation.

Lawan Bukar Maigana,

Maiduguri, Borno state  [email protected]