El-Rufai’s philosophy of competence, hardwork

Governor of Kaduna state Mallam Nasir el-Rufai is an enigma of sorts. So are most successful leaders. He is one man clearly misunderstood by many Nigerians. Considered as a constantly weeping child, it is not out of place that he means different things to different people. To his family, he is a caring, kind and loving father. To his close aides, he is a no nonsense boss who has zero tolerance for laziness, dearth of ideas and ineptitude. To some, he is simply the bulldozer, pulling down structures and inflicting unjust pains on the ordinary people. Many see him as Rehoboam who promised to scourge the Israelites with scorpions.

However, in the middle of all these conjectures lies a man with a heart of gold. A compassionate fellow whose preoccupation is to better the lives of the people of his state, Nigeria and humanity in general. He understands that there is no gain devoid of pain. He is a good shepherd who stands in front and confronts the wolf in the interest of his sheep. His undoing is his boldness and fearlessness to tread where even the angels dread. His knack for perfection is legendary. El-RufaiI calls a spade a spade. He makes his positions clearly known and speaks the truth no matter how bitter it is. His frontal approach to state and national issues is also one of his undoings. His audacity to veer off and challenge the status quo in an infested murky waters of Nigerian politics pitches him against some interests. His novel approach to statecraft gives his traducers sleepless nights. He makes tough policy decisions in line with the thought of his administration, no matter whose ox is gored.

Upon his conviction as a leader, all decisions taken are in the interest of the state and he owes no man any apology. His position on moving the nation forward especially in terms of banditry, kidnapping and restructuring is different from the views of his kith and kin in the north. El-Rufai cuts out as a realist. In dealing with governance and societal issues, unpopular and tough decisions are taken in a short term for the good of all in the long run. One of his philosophies is that; it is better to stand alone and do right than being in and with the band wagon pandering with wrong doings. The governor dreads failure and does everything within his reach not to associate with it. You have the ears of El-Rufai when brilliant ideas are the pokers on the table. In a typical dangerous Nigerian politics, critical and even unfounded narratives are more often than not cooked up against people which do not actually reflect the personality of the vilified. A book is not judged by its cover. Therefore, it is difficult to clearly understand a man by judging him from afar. That has been the lot of Mallam El-Rufai.

However, what most pessimists cannot take away from him is his philosophy of competence and hardwork in his administration and recruitment processes. These and many more are the forces driving his government in Kaduna state. The idea of raising the bar of competence and hardwork is one missing link in the public and private sectors in Nigeria. The governor is already addressing them in Kaduna. It was not an accidental approach to governance as it was also the hallmark of his administration as minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Mallam is fondly remembered for restoring the Abuja master plan and returning sanity in the ways businesses were done in the ministry of FCT. After the usual vilification, he was at the end celebrated by many to have left a mark in the sand of time.

That same mindset of reformation has been brought to the fore in the governance of Kaduna. It may be painful but joy comes at dawn. He has shown in words and deeds that competence and hardwork forms the fulcrum of his administration. Opportunities are regularly given to men and women with big responsibilities assigned to them not because of the complimentary cards they presented but for what they can offer. The Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, the only female deputy governor in northern Nigeria, was a product of competence. So also other appointees of the governor. The deputy governor was not only a senior registrar at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Shika, and director public health, Federal Capital Territory Administration Abuja but has excelled in state responsibilities and in major international assignments.

Sir Kashim Ibrahim Fellowship was not meant for Kaduna people alone but for everyone in Kaduna who has what it takes to be admitted into the fellowship. The youth in the state are given the opportunity to serve and learn the rope of governance. It is a mentorship platform for good governance, stewardship and governance related issues. The one-year programme aims to create a network of highly potential young Nigerians who are expected to rise to top leadership positions in the public sector and other spheres over the next decade. According to Tolu Adetunji, a Kashim Ibrahim Fellow, “it is a platform for Nigerians aged 25 – 35 to get a one year exposé into public service. It provides a framework for effective leadership and governance, equipping Fellows with the skill set and experience to actively contribute towards a better Nigeria.” The aim is “to raise the next generation of leaders who will most likely be absorbed into the public sector having had a first hand experience of its workings and challenges.”

The high premium El-Rufai puts on competence is reflected in the quality of of governance and the outputs of Kaduna state civil service. Another is the number of non-indigenes of Kaduna serving in various capacities in the state civil service. He is one governor in Nigeria who does not care where you come from before he offers you a job especially when it is obvious that you have the midas touch. El-rufai who was known as giant in his days at Barewa College Zaria was not so giantlly attributed for his physique but for his intelect and smartness.

It is a welcome development that he is bringing this and his wealth of experience to bear in the administration of Kaduna state. You could possibly call him whatever name but evidences of good governance dots the nooks and crannies of the state. To him, governance of Kaduna is likened to the Biblical plow, he never looks back when he places his hands to it. Governor El-Rufai’s philosophy of competence and hardwork is what the nation deserves at this time in our history. Many have alleged arrogance and high handedness on the part of the governor. God is the only infallible. So, like all mortals, Mallam is human and must have erred in the course of discharging his duties. Therefore, as mortals who are also fallible, we should bear in mind that to err is human but to forgive is devine.

Eze writes via [email protected]

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