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The ministerial nomination saga involving former Kaduna state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, continues to unfold with a heavy dose of infighting back home in Kaduna.
Governor Uba Sani and his predecessor are engaged in a subtle supremacy battle following el-Rufai’s failed nomination.
The disagreement between the two began when el-Rufai’s chance of securing a ministerial position was sacrificed due to power play within the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
El-Rufai is perceived as a divisive figure with the capacity to commandeer allegiance across political and religious lines. After his nomination failed, el-Rufai suggested a replacement that was seen as politically insensitive by Governor Sani.
The governor viewed this move as undermining his authority and prevailed on President Bola Tinubu to reject the replacement.
This situation has deepened the crisis of confidence in the state, similar to previous miscalculations under el-Rufai’s governorship.
The political landscape in Kaduna has been marked by a historical background of district-based power sharing. However, during el-Rufai’s tenure as governor, there was a deviation from this pattern as political offices were predominantly filled by individuals from the Kaduna North Senatorial District.
This included the governor, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, and the deputy governor.
The appointment of el-Rufai as a minister is seen by many as a continuation of this skewed distribution of power.
This has caused tension and deepened animosity between Christians and Muslims in the state. Governor Uba Sani, who is also a Muslim, has taken a more conciliatory approach since assuming office, aiming to address the past policies that fueled distrust and violence.
He has adopted a strategy similar to that of former Governor Ahmed Makarfi, who ran an inclusive administration and successfully resolved a political crisis.
Governor Sani has already implemented popular policies such as reducing school fees and distributing palliatives to households.
He has also prioritized dialogue to address the insecurity situation in the state. However, el-Rufai’s ministerial nomination has caused discontent among many in the Kaduna government, as it threatens to disrupt the fragile peace that has been achieved.
The fight for ministerial nomination in Kaduna between Uba Sani and El-Rufai is fueled by the political reality in the state.
The 2023 General Election results showed a clear verdict on El-Rufai’s tenure, with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winning all three senatorial positions and 11 out of 14 House of Representatives seats. Even in the Presidential Election, PDP’s Atiku Abubakar emerged as the winner in the state.
The Governorship Election, won by Governor Sani, is currently under litigation at the State Election Petition Tribunal. This political situation, combined with the former governor’s ministerial manoeuvring, has created an unhelpful distraction for the state government.
Governor Sani is uncomfortable with the nomination of a replacement for the ministerial position from the same area as him and the former governor, as it could generate criticism and antagonism from various groups in the state. Attempts to get reactions from former Governor El-Rufai were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.
However, El-Rufai is not backing down and is reportedly scheming to regain the ministerial position he previously withdrew from.
He has nominated Jafaru Ibrahim Sani as his replacement. El-Rufai expressed his disappointment and betrayal on August 20 through a reggae hit song on his social media platform. Former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is said to be lobbying for El-Rufai’s return as minister.
He believes that El-Rufai’s capacity to make tough decisions and execute projects is indispensable. However, there are concerns that El-Rufai may undermine the government, so it has been suggested that a tough Minister of State be appointed to oversee him.
Governor Sani’s opposition has also slowed down the process of filling the ministerial vacancy. It remains to be seen how he will react to these developments.