“Buhari forced me to be Governor, my ambition was to be Special Assistant”

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The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has said that it was President Muhammadu Buhari that forced him to be a Governor as his ambition was just to be a Special Adviser to a sitting Governor.

The Governor said this at the Special Weekly Briefing coordinated by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday.

He said he hope that the residents of his state will appreciate the difference between his eight years in office and the previous 16 years of the past government.

He said: “My hope is also that we will get one of the members of our current team, someone that has been part of this last seven years and knows our methods, because everything that we’ve done, we fought through, we debated before implementing them.

“And if an outsider comes, it is very easy to see and persuade that outsider to take a different course. I’ve seen that happen in FCT, where some of the things that we put in place were reversed by my immediate successor because he is a complete outsider; he didn’t know what was done.

“If someone within the FCT system that had worked with us the previous years had succeeded me as Minister for instance, there would have been some degree of continuity because there would be no debates about sacking teachers that are not qualified for instance.

He noted that: “If the people of Kaduna State vote back that other party, those thugs that we sacked will come back as teachers. There is nothing I can do about that. But my hope is that, as we saw in 2019, the people of Kaduna are smart enough, they have seen the difference between the two parties and governance styles and they will make the right decision. On our part as a party, my hope is that our members will vote for someone from within our team to continue to build where we let off, correct some of our errors and go forward. That’s my hope.

“But it is something that keeps me awake at night. I’m more worried about succession in Kaduna than I am about the next President of Nigeria. But other than pray a lot and seek for God to choose for the people of Kaduna what is best for them, not necessarily what I want. I have some preferences for who will succeed me. Of course, I’ve worked with people for 7, 8 years; some of them I’ve worked with for 20 years, I know them very well, I can guarantee that they will do this, they will do that. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the people of Kaduna State, if they buy my arguments. I’m unlikely to come out and anoint one person, I will keep my team in the room and try to get them to agree to a successor. If they are able to agree, then it’s easy to go out, this is our man, this is the person that was part of everything and he’s likely to continue to build on where we are, so support him. It will be easier to talk to the party leadership and membership to say this is the one that we all agreed of all the aspirants. But you know how politics is everybody thinks he can win; so, it is not likely that you can convince people to agree on this and I will not force anyone. So, see how the selection process goes but you are right, it’s a major issue. But what can we do about it? You just do your best and leave the rest to God.

“We also know that the security situation in some parts of the state seem to have defied solutions. What are you doing, apart from the kinetic measures that have been taken, what practical steps are you taking to ensure that these things come to an end?

On security, he said: “You know, one of the slides shows some of the non-kinetic measures we took to establish the Kaduna Peace Commission. We have the House of Kaduna Family. We have regular Security Council meetings. We are forming farmers/herders reconciliation committees at all local governments so that when there is any issue between farmers and herders, they will go in and be the first line of resolution and so on. But some of the insecurity challenges that have endured have more to do with ethnic or religious intolerance. This banditry is a new phenomenon bigger together. So, it’s something that we have to keep working on; we have done our bit, we hope those that come after us will do theirs.

Speaking on efforts of his government in collaboration with federal armed forces to tackle issues of banditry and kidnapping in his state and in collaboration with North West states, he said: “I am persuaded that the insurgency in the North West is far more lethal, far more serious than Boko Haram, both in terms of the numbers of people affected. In the reported cases, while 937 were killed and 1,972 kidnapped by bandits in the state in 2020, a total of 1,192 killed and 3,348 kidnapped in 2021, suggesting a deterioration in the situation.

“As you can see, this is just Kaduna numbers, in one or two years. I can assure you the numbers in Zamfara and Katsina are two to three times this if they are keeping tabs. The numbers in Sokoto, Niger and Kebbi will be about this. So, we are talking of tens of thousands of people getting killed, getting kidnapped; it is far more serious than Boko Haram. The only thing is that these guys don’t take territories. They are in the forests, ungoverned spaces. So, they do not attract the same kind of single-minded attention that Boko Haram does and because Boko Haram’s ideologies is religious or contentiously religious, you know, it elicits more passion.

“But really, this is a far more serious problem because this is largely a situation in which people of about the same ethnicity, about the same religion, you know, killing each other, stealing each other’s property, creating an industry out of criminality. It’s very serious and it requires single-minded attention. And I have told you, and I’ll come to that, you know, as I said, which will lead you to the next question,” he added.

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