By referring to the three Senators from Kaduna state as “useless opportunists” and calling for their heads and beard to be shaved, Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was dishing one of those courses from his no-nonsense menu of political rhetoric.
Depending on whom you speak with, El-Rufai is arrogant and super smart, vindictive and revolutionary, oppressive and the most progressive. He is not necessarily a bundle of contradiction; his days as a Minister of the Federal Capital Territory were characterized by a singleness of purpose that was left no doubt what the ultimate end was – to make Abuja a befitting capital.
It is the same one-dimensional El-Rufai that is in a no-holds-barred combat with Senators Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), Suleiman Hunkuyi (North) and Danjuma Laah (South). His long-standing irritation at the trio, all of whom are in the same All Progressives Congress with him, was further fuelled when the Governor’s $350 million loan request did not scale the Senate in March because of the thwarting intervention led by Senator Sani. As head of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans and Debts, Mr Sani made the case that the loan, if approved, would make Kaduna state the second most indebted in the country, drawing support from the other Senators. Hunkuyi, whose property had been demolished reportedly at the instruction of El-Rufai, was (as may be expected) vehemently in support of throwing at the loan request.
El-Rufai has not forgotten, and as the legend about him goes, will never forget. It hurt so much that when he had the opportunity to speak to Kaduna APC members last week, it was an opportunity to rain curses on the trio.
“God will curse them” he said speaking in Hausa. “God will reward their wickedness against the masses, may God never bless them” the governor continued in the presence of the APC’s chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.
The governor and the senators in Kaduna are not the only warring parties in the ruling party, but surely it has taken a turn to a road of no return. It is one thing to blame the lawmakers for sabotaging his efforts in the state, and another to out rightly declare that none of them should be returned in 2019. In the way Mr El-Rufai conveyed it to the crowd at the Kaduna Township stadium and knowing the powers he have as the chief security officer in the state, it is not difficult to see how this would have been absorbed by many in attendance, some of whom, without proper guidance, may go as far as taking literally, the governor’s clamor that Sani and co should have their heads “shaved”.
Nigerian politics at every level remains devoid of the sanity that proceeds from an enlightened populace. We are still some years away from having a voting public who will make decisions based on points of policy and capability than due to the rallying cry of those they see as overlords. Governor El-Rufai may be one of the most enlightened public servants in the country but even he, by appealing to the sensibility of religion and citing the senators as enemies of the “masses”, continues to engender this culture.