Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna has kicked against Jafaru Sani’s potential ministerial nomination as suggested by Nasir El-Rufai.
Mr El-Rufai had on Wednesday informed President Bola Tinubu of his intention to pull out of ministerial consideration. He subsequently proposed his replacement in Jafaru Sani, his staunch loyalist who served under him in Kaduna as commissioner.
While offering Jafaru Sani as his substitute, Mr El-Rufai told the president that he had informed Governor Sani about the choice and both parties had agreed. The former governor himself afterwards departed for Egypt.
But Governor Sani rushed back from a trip to London on Thursday evening to tell Mr Tinubu at the State House that he was not in agreement with Jafaru Sani as the replacement minister for Mr El-Rufai from Kaduna, per sources familiar with the conversation.
“He has now told the president to expect another name,” a source said under anonymity to discuss the matter. “He complained that Jafaru Sani has no political relevance in Kaduna and has been too loyal to El-Rufai.”
The development could open yet another flank in the political battle involving Mr El-Rufai, who said he decided to withdraw from ministerial nomination because he was incensed by a gang-up against him which the president did not do enough to communicate with him. The attack against Mr El-Rufai has been championed within the State House by national security adviser Nuhu Ribadu, The Gazette was told.
Mr Ribadu authorised a controversial security dossier that accused Mr El-Rufai of violence and corruption.
Mr El-Rufai has a history of condoning lethal violence, making inflammatory statements to rile up ethnic and religious embers, and was relentlessly accused of corruption as Abuja minister and Kaduna governor. He also deployed state resources to silence journalists and critics, a behavioural pattern that poliarised opinions even among Nigerian literary elite that he had long courted. He has continued to deny all allegations of wrongdoing, including those publicly documented against him.
Still, the credibility of the so-called security report was immediately doubted by Nigerians after the same national security establishment cleared Nyesom Wike, a notoriously violent and corrupt former governor of Rivers who brazenly rigged the outcome of the presidential election in his state for Mr Tinubu.
The purported security report also failed to flag the nomination of Abubakar Bagudu, a thief who laundered billions of public dollars for late dictator Sani Abacha. A large chunk of Mr Bagudu’s loot remained tucked in several jurisdictions abroad; while authorities in the United States and Britain are still tracing and confiscating hundreds of millions of dollars from the former Kebbi governor.
But Mr El-Rufai’s fate was not the first time a so-called security report would be drafted by the State Security Service to counter the nomination of a presidential nominee, although for other roles other than ministerial designations. In 2016, the SSS wrote two different security report for and against Ibrahim Magu’s nomination as the chairman of anti-graft office EFCC, causing nationwide confusion and mortifying then-President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Tinubu was widely expected to run a less rudderless administration until the confirmation of Mr El-Rufai, who had been gearing to take charge of Nigeria’s moribund power sector, was deferred by the Senate over public complaints.
But Mr El-Rufai held Mr Tinubu responsible for the botched nomination, telling the president to his face during the Wednesday meeting that the appeared borne out of a budding animosity. It was unclear how the president responded.
Mr El-Rufai said he was willing to continue rendering support for the administration from outside, and his backing of Jafaru Sani was widely seen as an exertion of influence over Kaduna politics. He had used that influence to make Uba Sani as his successor governor in March, after previously helping him to get into the Senate.
But with Governor Sani now pushing against Jafaru Sani, Mr El-Rufai could find himself simultaneously beating back political assaults in Abuja and Kaduna, a source said. Messrs El-Rufai and Sani did not answer calls from The Gazette on Saturday afternoon. Jafaru Sani’s telephone was switched off on Saturday afternoon, and a text message seeking comments did not deliver.
“We can only hope Malam El-Rufai is not too surprised by what Uba Sani just did to him,” a State House source said about the governor’s countemove. “They clearly have some unresolved issues between them.”