In a fresh twist to silence the row between the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, the Kaduna State Governor has said that he is not Tinubu’s man, adding that, “Asiwaju and I have differences”.
Speaking at a webinar in commemoration of the 63rd birthday of the Minister of Interior and former Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, on Saturday, Governor El-Rufai, noted that Aregbesola remains his man any day, but Tinubu is not his man. This he said, is due to the differences between him and the former Lagos State Governor.
The webinar was tagged: ‘Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola Colloquium 2020’, with the theme, ‘Government Unusual: Innovative economic solutions to unlock mass prosperity’, and was moderated by Boason Omofaye.
Governor El-Rufai’s statement came as a subtle confirmation of the disagreement between him and Tinubu. Both of them are Stalwarts of the ruling party, and are rumoured to have ambitions to contest for the Presidency, in the 2023 elections.
Tinubu has never made any public statement about their seemingly frosty relationship, and El-Rufai has also been conservative on the issue, except for a very few occasions.
Already, there have been mounting tensions over which of the 6 zones would produce the next President, in the 2023 elections.
Also, in February, the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, while responding to fears that the APC might collapse when the President Muhammadu Buhari leaves Office in 2023, said that the much speculated Presidential ambitions of El-Rufai and Tinubu, could not break the APC, adding that, it would rather strengthen the party.
While neither of them has declared an intention to contest the election, the Yobe Governor said: “I do not think their ambition will affect the party. You should know that for now, there is no party in Nigeria that is as formidable as the APC. The APC also controls more States than the other political parties.”
At an event organised by the Bridge Club tagged: “An evening with His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State”, in May 2016, the Kaduna State Governor was believed to be referring to Tinubu, when he explained how to end godfatherism in Lagos State. Tinubu is widely known to be the godfather of Lagos State politics, since he left Office as Governor of the State, in 2007.
During the question and answer session, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and three-time Commissioner in Lagos State, Dr. Muiz Banire, asked Governor El-Rufai how godfatherism could be dealt with, given how it has served as one of the drawbacks for professionals and businessmen who may want to go into politics.
Responding, Governor El-Rufai said that he defeated and retired four political godfathers in Kaduna State, adding that, the feat could be replicated anywhere, including Lagos State. He stated that the key is to go back to the people directly, noting however, that it was a step that requires time and hard work. “The key is to go to the people”, he noted.
However, while eulogising Aregbesola during the webinar, Governor El-Rufai said that he is not ashamed to state that he copied the School Feeding Initiative in his State, from Osun State, when he visited Aregbesola as Governor, adding that, there is a lot Governors could learn from the way he developed the State, in spite of the economic crisis that plunged the State into debts.
While congratulating the birthday celebrant, Governor El-Rufai said: “I want to congratulate my brother, Ogbeni (Aregbesola), on his birthday. You know I am your man any day. I am not Asiwaju’s man, and you are Asiwaju’s man, but I am your man any day. Asiwaju and I have differences, but you and I have no differences.”
In his remarks, Aregbesola, who was visibly overjoyed by the contributions of the panellists and the eulogies he received from them, noted that his achievements as a Governor, were driven by his passion for the people, a virtue he said he imbibed from his teenage years.
He however, appreciated the President Buhari for encouraging him all along, adding that, “the second person who has played a very huge role in making me a good public Administrator is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He takes all the glory, apart from God”.
Other Panellists at the webinar were the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Statistician-General, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Dr. Yemi Kale; the CEO, Financial Derivatives, Mr. Bismarck Rewane; the Chairman, Citibank Nigeria; Dr. Yemi Cardoso; the CEO, Lotus Capital Limited, Mrs. Hajara Adeola; and the Country Director, Development Alternatives Incorporated, Dr. Joe Abah.