From Becoming Minister
All through last week, one of the major stories that dominated the scene was the move by some powerful forces to block Pres. Tinubu’s friend, Nasir El-Rufai from becoming a Minister. His name had been announced as a nominee and he had gone for screening only for the Senate to block his nomination and what many people couldn’t just understand was how an Godswill Akpabio led Senate would block a well known ally of the President.
During his appearance, it was a confidant El-Rufai that told the Senate that he was coming to help President Tinubu in the area of Power and Energy. He told them how he and Tinubu had been discussing how to sort out issues in the Power Sector.
Even El-Rufai himself was shocked at how he was treated by the Senate and he headed to Aso-Rock to go and ask Mr. President what was going on.
Allegations of Human Rights abuses, unguarded public utterances, and a purported flood of petitions seem to have been the issues advanced by the State Security Service (SSS) against his nomination.
The Human Rights abuse, include the case concerning the killing of the sons and followers of the Shiite leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, in Zaria, Kaduna State, in 2015. The case is with International Criminal Court (ICC).
There was also the comment he made while addressing a group of Muslim clerics in Kaduna after his party, the APC, was declared the winner of the governorship election in March.
He was also allegedly accused Mr El-Rufai of having engaged in arbitrary arrests of political enemies and seizure of properties and wanton demolition of properties of perceived political enemies.
He was also accused of using force and intimidation to suppress protests, leading to extrajudicial killings of innocent citizens of the state.
A lot of cases were pending against Elrufai in different Nigerian and international courts, including the ECOWAS and the ICC.
The agency also listed some petitions filed against Mr El-Rufai, including one it said was sent to President Tinubu by the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
El-Rufai once Tinubu as the most corrupt person and vowing that he would never deputise such a person with a tainted profile.
The SSS also accused the former governor of backstabbing his former bosses, the agency said he backstabbed former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Vice President Atiku Abubakar (who is said to have brought him into the Obasanjo administration), and the immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari.
The agency also cited “anti-people policies” that allegedly destroyed people’s livelihoods in Kaduna State as evidence that he is unfit to hold office as minister.
Just as many Nigerians were still digesting this and wondering if these were true, then came an online story alleging that it was powerful forces around the President that blocked him.
“Not a few Nigerians have been taken aback by the decision of the Senate not to clear former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and two others as ministerial nominees, citing “security checks”, revealed the article. But, of the three, the one that has generated the most controversy and sent tongues wagging is that of El-Rufai and this is obvious. His contributions to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as candidate and president are all in the public domain.
The article cited how in October 2022, Tinubu publicly said he would not leave the stage at the Kaduna Investment Summit until El-Rufai rescinded his decision to retire from public office and pursue other private endeavours. He said he needed him to stay and work with him. In deference to Tinubu, who was his guest at the time, El-Rufai went on stage to meet him and said he would work with the then incoming government even if it was on part-time basis.
After emerging victorious at the poll, President Tinubu reportedly invited El-Rufai and told him that one of his campaign promises to Nigerians was uninterrupted power supply and that he had looked round and decided that El-Rufai was the man who could deliver for him on that promise.
At first, El-Rufai was said to have hesitated in accepting the offer. Over time, it took the interventions of some patriots and well-meaning Nigerians who allegedly prevailed on El-Rufai to accept the offer.”
“But, before he accepted the offer to serve, El-Rufai was said to have informed the President that based on his past experiences, it was imperative for gas to be under the same roof with the Federal Ministry of Power since gas was a critical component for electricity supply in this time and age, coupled with the drive for clean energy and climate change. It was said that if the proposal was accepted by the President, the new ministry would be known as Federal Ministry of Energy.”
“Informed sources also hinted that El-Rufai proposed the setting up of a National Energy Council under the Chairmanship of the President with representatives of the relevant ministries, agencies and departments, such as Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Petroleum, Federal Ministry of Environment and others.”
“With all these, it was gathered that the idea was for the President to drive the initiative for uninterrupted power supply, while El-Rufai would implement it as Minister of Energy. The President consented and asked him to assemble his team and get to work immediately.”
Insiders revealed that with the Presidential directive, El-Rufai assembled a team and began working about three weeks before his name was sent, alongside others, to the Senate for screening on the 27th of July, 2023. Surprisingly, when El-Rufai appeared before the Senate for the screening, a Senator from Kogi State, Sunday Karimi, after commending El-Rufai for his achievements in public office, said he had a petition against him that bothered on “Security, Unity and cohesiveness”. He urged the Senate to consider the petition while the screening the nominee. When El-Rufai wanted to speak to the petition, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio said he should not bother. His words: “I have to inform all of you that I have received similar petitions from some people against other nominees, but this is not where we are to deal with petitions. Our job here is to screen. And, of course, we can refer petitions to where petitions will be dealt with.
“They are nominees of Mr. President. If it is something where there is a formal petition before the Senate, we will look at it formally. But there are certain petitions we have to refer to the Presidency or security agencies to look at, and that has nothing to do with us. By the time we go into confirmation, we will be so advised. So, I want my brother to take a bow and go, and don’t bother to explain the petition.”
The Online story revealed that the petition, which formed the basis of the non-confirmation of El-Rufai, is the subject of a libel suit which the former governor instituted against the petitioner, one Gloria Mabeiam Ballason, from Southern Kaduna.”
“Again, contrary to the insinuation that El-Rufai had been banned from holding public office in Nigeria, independent checks have revealed that there is no such resolution. It was a mere recommendation of a Committee of the House of Representatives over 20 years ago. The recommendation has been quashed by a court of competent jurisdiction. Besides, El-Rufai has since become a two-term governor of Kaduna State with outstanding records of performance!”
“A source at the Senate said even the letter that the President of the Senate relied on to stop the confirmation of El-Rufai and others was not addressed to him. Rather, it was addressed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and signed by one Aminu Yusuf, a Director in the office of the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS). The President of the Senate was merely copied. This is against protocol on Communication between the Executive and the Legislature which forbids the National Assembly from acting on any communication that is not signed by the President, much less one that was not addressed to it.
What has now emerged is that some of those who are close to the President feel threatened by El-Rufai’s intimidating profile, especially if he is able to deliver on the task the President gave him. They do not want him to serve in the government and succeed because of their own discreet plans for 2027 or 3031, (as the case may be) and they see him as a potential threat to their political aspirations. They are also being allegedly propelled by other forces outside the government like some stakeholders in the Power Sector who have been paid between N2billion and N3billion as subsidies for Electricity are afraid that with El-Rufai coming onboard, the free money will stop.
They are the ones who allegedly lobbied the President not to make El-Rufai the Minister of Energy because they contributed to his campaign. There are political foes and some elements in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and even some sponsored Muslim clerics are allegedly part of the gang up.
Last Tuesday, El-Rufai allegedly saw the President to talk things over.
The meeting, it was gathered, was actually for the team assembled by El-Rufai to make a presentation to the President on their activities and plans to reform the power sector. But surprisingly, at the meeting, the President allegedly began to query some of the things they had agreed on weeks ago about the bringing of Gas under the same roof with Power and to be renamed the Federal Ministry of Energy and other reform initiatives. It seemed the appointing authority has had a change of mind. Hence, all the avoidable drama that dogged the screening and confirmation.
At the end of the meeting, a source at the Presidency said Sources close to the former Kaduna State helmsman say he has already rejected the ministerial offer.
As a prelude, El-Rufai has reportedly submitted the Curriculum Vitae of a high ranking politician from Kaduna State as a replacement for him since Kaduna State has no representative in the soon-to-be composed Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Sources hinted that the former Governor of Kaduna state has since jetted out of the country to ward off pressures from party stalwarts and concerned Nigerians who are worried about the turn of events, wondering how those who lobbied him to come and serve would turn round to rubbish his enviable public records!