On El-Rufai’s new political movement 

Malam Nasir El-Rufai, former FCT minister and the immediate-past governor of Kaduna state, has remained silent since he left office last year. His failure to scale the screening of the National Assembly as a ministerial nominee from Kaduna state, further alienated him from the President Bola Tinubu government. The upper chamber, which initially screened El-Rufai, later rejected him, citing security report against the former governor. But El-Rufai appeared unperturbed by the senate’s rejection. When his name featured prominently in Tinubu’s ministerial list, it seemed he had planned to go back to school. 

No wonder, he had remained quite and Nigerians missed his voice when the government he helped to install pursues some policies believed to be harsh. One must hd expected El-Rufai to comment on some vexed national issues under the Tinubu government such as fuel subsidy removal and foreign exchange unification. This twin policy has caused untold hardship for the Nigerians. Alas, El-Rufai has since become a spectator, watching afar from the classroom. Surprisingly, in a dramatic twist, El-Rufai, who was off from the political scene, has suddenly resurfaced, albeit, controversially. 

It started with his visit to the National headquarters of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. He also hosted the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, in his house. In quick succession, El-Rufai paid another visit to the suspended Bauchi senator, Abdul-Ningi. These visits have elicited suspicions from political analysts. Daniel Bwala, former spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa 2023 campaign organisation, stated that El-Rufai is planning to decamp to SDP and challenge Tinubu in 2027 presidential election. 

However, Muyiwa Adekeye, spokesperson for the former governor, said the recent visit of his principal to the headquarters of the SDP in Abuja was without any political colouration. In another rumour or speculation, presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, is being tipped as another possible decampee to join the Third Force being mulled by El-Rufai.

While the 2027 general elections are still far away, El-Rufai’s strategic meeting is still fishy. As the saying goes, there is “no smoke without fire”. Nasir El-Rufai is one of the best brains the country can parade. He came to limelight in 1999 when the then President Olusegun Obssanjo appointed him as the director general of the Bureau for Public Enterprisers. Under the Obasanjo privatisation policy, El-Rufai supervised the sale of hundreds of public companies.

In 2003, after Obasanjo returned for the second term, El-Rufai was made the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. During his stint as FCT minister, El-Rufai spearheaded the transformation of the Nigeria’s capital, stepping on the toes of some powerful forces. After the end of obasanjo’s tenure in 2007, El-Rufai, who was in the bad books of the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua government, went into exile. He returned when Goodluck Jonathan became president. In the 2015 general elections, El-Rufai was instrumental to the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari government. He played prominent roles towards the merger which birthed the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its subsequent victory.

In 2023 when some forces or cabals tried to stop power rotation to the South, including the naira redesign policy that nearly ruined the party’s electoral victory, El-Rufai did not only go against them but also supported the Tinubu presidency. That was why many Nigerians were surprised that El-Rufai was edged out of the Tinubu cabinet. Although his former SSG, Balarabe Abbas, replaced him, it seemed there was no love lost between Tinubu and El-Rufai. 

His deafening silence since the inauguration of the government last year attest to this. The posers are: Is El-Rufai’s new found love with SDP a tactical move to dump APC as being speculated? Who are those to join him in his new party? Will El-Rufai’s Third Force dislodge Tinubu in 2027? In politics, nothing is impossible. El-Rufai’s decision to ditch APC may not be unconnected with the humiliation he suffered during his screening in the senate and the inability of President Tinubu to save his head. In addition, El-Rufai may have been disappointed by the Tinubu administration’s policies and programmes which have generated discordant tunes among Nigerians.

El-Rufai’s Third Force can actually harvest its membership from political associates, those who have grudges against the Tinubu government, and above all Buhari’s loyalists who are not being carried along. Whether El-Rufai’s new political movement will become a threat or not to Tinubu’s second term bid remains to be seen in the coming years..

Ibrahim Mustapha,

Pambegua, Kaduna state


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