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More Catholic than the Pope: Demystifying Nasiru El-Rufa’i’s obsession with power

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Nasir El Rufai

Murtala Uba Mohammed

The famous nineteenth century German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche was quoted to have said: “arrogance on the part of meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive”.

This statement is very relevant to a giant-voiced, small physique governor of Kaduna State Malam Nasiru El-Rufa’i.

No doubt, the Katsina born graduate of the famous Ahmadu Bello University and later University of Harvard and Georgetown University, has achieved much in his life.

In his memoir, The Accidental Public Servant, El-Rufa’i stated that he was very lucky to be among few Nigerians to become millionaires in their twenties.

Indeed, this is a rare blessing in a country where the economy is in the hand of a few, largely aged fellows. Nasiru’s achievement is not only in material sense as he was fortunate to hold some big political offices in the country.

A rare achiever, Governor El-Rufa’i governed some of the most important capitals of the country, Abuja the present administrative capital of  Nigeria and Kaduna the capital of the defunct Northern Region.

No license for contempt

However achievement is not a licence to treat people with contempt and disrespect the sensibilities of the general public.

After all, El-Rufa’i should thank Nigeria (of course Nigerians) for the chances he is given continuously.

It is important for him to remember that a country of over two hundred million people is very much blessed with many seasoned administrators and technocrats.

I want him to put at the back of his mind that he is not the only and will never be the most intelligent person ever produced in this country.

Let him be humble and not as arrogant as he presents himself.

El-Rufa’i needs to be reminded that if it was physical strength or might, he would not in any way get closer to the power he is too proud of.

In fact it is very unlikely for a person of his stand to inhale its fragrance or odour as the case may be.

If it is hard-work, many work harder but are not destined to attain for one reason or another.

For someone who grew in a centre of learning like Zaria City, it is easy to be reminded that intelligence is no one’s monopoly.

He should equally be reminded that power is transient and should be treated as such.

Mai Rusau

Although, this is not the first time El-Rufa’i displayed his extremism and to some extent conceited attitude to the service he was entrusted to render, it is only now that it becomes glaring how overzealous he is and how arrogant and indifferent he is to the people of Kaduna.

As the Minister of Abuja, he was nicknamed Mai-Rusau (the demolisher).

 In his attempt to restore the Master Plan of Abuja, he demolished many structures worth billions of naira.

Many casual and superficial observers applauded him and perceived the wanton destruction of property as a laudable achievement.

But the ever overzealous governor had done more than what planners of the city expected him to do.

Planning is not, by any stretch of the imagination, as rigid as he thought, because it is always people’s oriented, it allows for restructuring, amendment and accommodation.

A liveable city should have place for the poor and working class, but not for only capitalist-oriented minds.

Dealing with COVID-19

Anyone following the news today can easily understand how passionate the Kaduna State Governor had become in his fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that found its way into Nigeria since early February.

Governor Rufa’i cannot be matched by any governor in his zeal to do all that can be regarded as proactive measure in containing the pandemic.

He is one of the first governors to impose and enforce lockdown as a means of mitigating the transmission of the virus to the barest level.

This is certainly a good measure especially when one considers the strategic location of Kaduna State as the main entry to core northern states via the most important capitals of the country—Lagos, the commercial capital and Abuja the administrative capital—and indeed the two major entries for the spread of pandemic.

This is sound and proactive tactic, and El-Rufa’i should be commended for that.

However, what one may find strange about the governor is the way he cares not about the fate and plight of the poor and the common people.

A good shepherd should be more concerned about his herd. In a state where most of the residents are poor and live through daily earning, it is very insensitive and unwise to lock people for more than one month as he did.

I do not want to talk about whether the palliatives given were sufficient enough to keep the poor or not because no sensible Nigerian will believe our leaders in this kind of situation—glaringly confidence has been eroded.

One will continue to wonder and ask rhetorically:  who are his advisers?

It seems he has too much confidence in himself and this has given him a proclivity of the 21st century dictators.

He feels that his view is the only view and his way is the only right path.

It is apparent that the governor remains insensitive and adamant to many calls and advice given by good and concerned citizen of Kaduna State.

Dangerous utterances

Some of the governor’s utterances were dangerous and quietly implied his general feeling towards people’s cause. The governor always wants to say things that are controversial and that will make him perpetually the point of discussion in the public arena.

El-Rufa’i’s attitude to his principals is very undemocratic as he continues to remain adamant to the people’s fate.

It is crystal clear how draconian he sounds especially when it comes to religion.

There is nothing wrong in banning religious gathering to safeguard the life of people and to ensure that the spread of lethal Covid 19 is within government’s control, but that should be done with decorum and respect to religious authority.

When he was canvassing for their support and votes, he treated them with all the respect they deserved.

Among his most annoying action was his press release of May 19th laced with statements that are quite unfortunate for a public office holder of his status.

It is very unprofessional for a governor of one state to engage in direct attack on other state’s decision especially in a matter of national question and jurisdiction.

In his press release, governor El-Rufa’i unnecessarily dedicated three of points to Kano State.

He also appointed himself as a prosecutor and a judge by concluding that the strange deaths of people in Kano State during the height of the pandemic were caused by the Coronavirus and nothing more.

Intellectual arrogance

This statement revealed how intellectually arrogant and naive he is to report what a medical team and the Presidential Task Force on the Coronavirus Pandemic were investigating and yet to compile their reports at the time. Not only that the governor accused his counterpart (the governor of Kano State) of complacency and being economical with truth by concluding that the cause was known by the Kano state government and the medical team but they were manipulating the truth.

The new self-styled Pax-Nigeriana extended his jurisdiction beyond the assigned territory by saying that he would stay at the border to prevent people from Kano and other states from entering the ‘Holy’ Kaduna State.

These and his other utterances, including that of saying the evacuated Almajirai from Kano constitute a larger portion of cases recorded in his state had generated mixed reactions on social media.

The Kano State government also responded to that and youth from the two states engaged in bitter and offensive exchanges.

The divisive and controversial utterances of El-Rufa’i were the causes of the heated exchanges which polarized the youth of the two states at a time they needed to work together in harmony.

In attempt to settle the exchange between the two giant governors, the Daily-Trust newspaper dedicated its editorial of 1st June to this issue.

In the editorial, the newspaper reminded the two executives about their duties which exclude not engaging in unnecessary dispute and altercations over what is considered of critical importance to people’s life.

Health is one of the primary needs of human and it should not be handled with onionskin.

Still pointing fingers

However, it is obvious that El-Rufa’i has not refrained from his usual way of portraying himself as the holiest of the holy.

In a response to a tweet made by one @jibrilibrahim17 on 5th June, El-Rufa’i through his twitter handle, @elrufai opined that some states are deliberately under reporting their Covid-19 positive cases by submitting few sample to test laboratories.

However, he exonerated his state by saying: “FCT, Kaduna and Lagos at least are actively tracing contacts because we want RIGHT numbers of those infected – to test, trace contact and treat them. We want to save lives not have unexplained death.”

Although the governor was not so specific as to what state he was referring in his statement, it is as clear that he was referring to Kano and no more.

Of all states in the country none had the case of unexplained death as Kano. Also, the state (Kano) is reporting few cases since last week which the statement was pointing at.

The foregoing had clearly shown that the El-Rufa’i has neither physical nor social boundary in his dealings.

His way is clearly confrontational and dictatorial.

He considers himself too important and arrogates wisdom to himself.

This has to stop for the respect of constitution and other people’s thoughts, rights and opinions.

It is my humble hope that the governor will adjust and concentrate on his duties while allowing others to discharge theirs.

I will end with a popular saying that respect is reciprocal.

Murtala Uba Mohammed, PhD writes from Department of Geography, Bayero University Kano

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Opinion

Childhood killer diseases: NGO gets $29m grants to reach 1m caregivers

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An International Non-Governmental Organization, New Incentive, said it has received a grant of $29 million under it project – All Babies Are Equal targeted to reach over one million caregivers and immunize their infants against childhood killer diseases in four Northwest States .

Kano Focus reports that the four Northern states are Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara and Sokoto.

These childhood killer diseases include, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal disease and measles.

The Stakeholder Relations Director, of the NGO Nura Muhammad disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting with the benefiting states held in Kano.

Muhammad said the grant would be disbursed as conditional cash transfer to support the caregivers to ensure they avail their infants for the Immunization.

He said, “New Incentive – All Babies Are Equal, NI-ABAE has received commitments of over $29 million of funding over the next 3 years to reach over 1 million caregivers and their infants in Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto States.

This covers expansion to 35 LGAs with continued operations through Dec 2023.

“The organization aims to reduce child mortality through cost-effective and evidence-based health interventions.

In Nigeria, the organization operates as the All Babies Are Equal Initiative and implements the conditional cash transfers (CCT) for routine immunization (CCTs for RI) program.

“The flagship CCTs for RI program operated by ABAE disburses cash incentives to caregivers conditional on infants receiving four vaccines: BCG (against tuberculosis), PENTA (against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b), PCV (against pneumococcal disease), and MCV (against measles).

These vaccinations are part of the routine schedule for infant immunizations in Nigeria and are provided at no cost to the caregiver through government-supported clinics.

Upon confirmation of their infant receiving a vaccine, the caregiver receives ₦500 for the first four routine immunization visits and ₦2,000 for the fifth visit.

“The cash transfers compensate for transport, lost trading income, and waiting time while creating behavioural change through awareness of routine immunizations.

“The CCTs for RI Program has been implemented in the states of Katsina, Zamfara, 2017 while Jigawa in 2018.

To date, the program has enrolled over 390,000 infants whose caregivers have received over 1 billion naira in conditional cash transfers.

An independent impact assessment of NI-ABAE’s CCTs for RI program (2017 – 2020) found that the program increases the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by 27 percentage points, and increases rates of individual vaccinations by 14 to 21 percentage points.

Beyond vaccination, the assessment found that the program contributed to improved knowledge about vaccination among caregivers in the catchment areas served by the program.

“Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions, saving 2 to 3 million lives yearly (WHO) and there is evidence that suggests a 27 percentage points increase in the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by a conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program (NI-ABAE RCT Impact Assessment 2017-2020),” the Stakeholder Relations Director, Nura Muhammad however said.

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Opinion

Meet Abdul: The most talented Dabo Babies player of all time

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Picking out the footballing stars of the future is a tricky task.

There are so many factors which could hinder the progression of even the most professional of teenagers.

But some do seem destined to reach the top, while others display a work ethic that’s even greater than the natural talent at their disposal.

The second paragraph could be the case with Dabo Babies talented, 19-year-old forward Abdul Attacker.

He burst onto the scene when he was playing for a local club, Golden Bullet and was snapped up by famous Dabo Babes FC after the departure of former Nigeria U-20 star, Nazifi Yahaya.

And has since caught the attention of football enthusiast across the country with his brilliant display for Dabo Babes.

Abdul tormented four-time Nigeria Professional Football League Champions, Kano Pillars FC after he scored twice against the Sai Masu Gida in a friendly match before the kickoff of the second stanza of the just concluded 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League season (NPFL).

He was the catalyst to Dabo Babes good run to the Kano state Tofa Premier League title driving the famous academy from game to game until they reach the final.

The dazzling forward produces mouthwatering display to earn himself accolades from the Pen Profession who could not hide their love for the next Super Star during the Tofa Premier League final.

He likes his game to that of Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema and Bayern Munich deadly striker, Robert Lewandowski.

The 19-year-old’s talent and versatility has some people wondering whether he could be a bolster for the Nigeria National U-20 team, the Flying Eagles for their upcoming assignments.

As preparations for the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League season gearing towards climax, many top clubs are interested in snapping him to bolster their squad as well as few other European top teams.

He has scored 55 goals and provided further 22 assists for Dabo Babes in less than three and a half years.

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Opinion

Lamido, Jega celebrate NEPU @ 71 

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Aminu Kano

Dr. Nuruddeen Muhammad 

Yesterday, Sunday, the 8th of August, 2021, I accompanied His Excellency Dr Sule Lamido  (CON) who was the speaker at a symposium organised by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Bayero University Kano (Mambayya House) to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU), with the theme; ‘Politics of Principles and the Phenomenon of Political Party Defections in Nigeria’.

Sule Lamido

The event which held under the distinguished chairmanship of the cerebral Dr. Tijjani Muhammad Naniya, also had the ebullient Dr. Auwalu Anwar as the sole discussant. While Professor Attahiru Jega, Professor Dandatti Abdulkadir, Dr. Akilu Sani Indabawa, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, Professor Sule Bello, Dr. Nasir Fagge, former NEPU/PRP regional, federal and state parliamentarians, women and youth leaders from across the country, notably Kano, Jigawa, Katsina and Kaduna States all ran incisive commentaries.

Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir

The cacophony of voices were as fierce as they were sharply different in tone, content and delivery. But by far, that which stood out and generated most responses was Dr Lamido’s lead assertion that the raison d’etre for the NEPU/PRP ideological and political initiatives was to liberate the common folks (the Talakawas), first from the clutches of the combined reppression of the colonial overloads and their willing surrogates in the Native Authority establishments in Northern Nigeria, and the restrictions placed on them in political participation, aspirations and freedoms.

He forcefully argued that the movements have achieved on both counts as the children of yesterday’s Talakawas are today the new overloads and oppressors who deny their fellow Talakawas quality leadership as presidents, governors, parliamentarians, ministers, council chairmen and their councils. He concluded that the movements (atleast as organised political actions) should rest and cease to exist. And that today’s progressives should instead leverage around available political opportunities/platforms to confront the existing selfish order using present day political sentiments and realities as mobilization tools.

Prof. Hafiz Abubakar

But recalling copiously from memory, the lead speaker canvassed for an ideological graft transplant from the NEPU/PRP days in ways that the moral and ethical characters of both politics and governance of today can benefit from the sound value systems of old oder.

He narrated how he first resigned as a member of the House of Representatives in Lagos in 1983 purely on moral grounds, and then flew to Kano to convince the then Governor Alhaji Abubakar Rimi to do same as the governor of the old Kano State when the duo defected from the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) that gave them the mandates in the first place.

He then described the present phenomenon of political party defections in Nigeria as the worst form of corruption.

This profound submission drew a symphony of responses from today’s PRP practitioners who are mostly academics. Leading the park was Professor Attahiru Jega who argued that without justice in leadership and the level of impunity as is the case today, the NEPU/PRP cause has just begun and asked Sule Lamido to come lead the national onslaught.

Many other PhDs and Professors joined in the call that Lamido would later say lacked sufficient local and broader national political insight. It is significant to note that I was to totally align myself with the Sule Lamido’s perspective of the argument only yesterday, having engaged with him for over a decade on the same exact topic as the Jegas had done yesterday at Mambayya.

I am now fully convinced that the NEPU/PRP politics exclusively represented yesterday’s political sentiments and realities in the North with no much utility for either our present political and social circumstances or broader national appeal.

Sule Lamido, Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad and other guests

The Mambayya rendezvous is prehaps the only remaining theatre in Nigeria where political practitioners, activists and ideologues meet political researchers, theorists and even wannabees in a real time intellectual brawl. Bayero University Kano is both creative and thoughful in this annual ritual. Mallam Aminu Kano and his comrades had lived a very politically active, intellectually robust, and ideologically/philosophically sound lives to deserve this honour.

When academic excellence and classroom sense meet self taught philosophers and the practical hands on the streets, a cetain unique flavour emerges. Yesterday’s flavor has unfortunately left a distinctively sour test in my mouth. The fact that the Talaka is today his very own oppressor is a very bitter pill for some of us to swallow. And even more bitter is the second fact that the second on coming liberation of the Talakawas (from themselves this time around) will have to invent it’s devices with no NEPU/PRP emotional relic to rely on.

This, on a very personal note, was a befitting way to round off my three weeks extended sallah visit in Jigawa.

Dr. Muhammad was Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs & Federal Minister of Information as

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