Why I am at war with Nasir El-Rufai – Senator Shehu Sani

Senator Shehu Sani
He rode to power on the popularity of
what he did in Abuja while he was in power as the Minister in charge of the
Federal Capital Territory. While those who were at the receiving end of his programmes
never forgave him and are still licking their wounds, wondering why anyone
would elect him, his fanatic supporters see him as the man to right the wrongs
of years of underdevelopment in Kaduna State where he now presides as Governor.
Nasir el-Rufai means different things to different people. His latest Tormentor
in Chief however is one of his own, a Senator elected on the ticket of his
party who also hails from his State.

 Senator Shehu Sani, is not one to suffer
fools gladly. When he first picked on Governor Nasir el Rufai, many thought it
was just another storm in a teacup that would soon disappear or fizzle out. But
the Senator has refused to keep quiet. Indeed, he has become more vociferous
than ever before.
It has become so bad that the two men
have been avoiding each other at public functions, though the last event that
the two were invited, it was the Governor who chickened out as the Senator was
around and he used the platform to lambast Nasir el Rufai as usual. Curiously,
there have been no visible efforts to call a truce even from stakeholders who
should know the implication of such a divided house.


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In this interview conducted with City
People, the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria revealed why he is at
loggerhead with the Governor of Kaduna State. Enjoy the excerpts.

Nasir el Rufai

At what point
did you and Governor El Rufai part ways?
When I contested for the party’s
senatorial ticket, Nasir el Rufai had his candidate, so also did the other
gubernatorial aspirants from the party. I was however able to defeat their
candidates. And I went ahead to win a ticket. I defeated a sitting candidate,
my victory was no fluke. He had his preferred candidate but I won the Kaduna
Central Senatorial ticket. I contested the Senatorial election and won.
And the two gubernatorial candidates all have their preferred senatorial
candidates. Nasir had his own
preferred senatorial candidate who was the incumbent, General Sani, whom I
removed.
The other candidate also had another
preferred candidate, Sani Suleiman, the former local
government chairman. One can see that the two gubernatorial candidates had
their own senators they want to work with. And I combined both Nasir and his opponent and thrashed all
of them in the election.
He seemed to have been disappointed.
Look at what he has don now, the person that I defeated he has decided to
empower. He drew him closer and has been empowering him; it is obvious that he
wants to empower my opponent against me. But I am on ground. I am on ground in
my constituency. Go to my street, unless you just moved in there, there is no
way you will not know Shehu Sani. I was born here and I
live here. Ever since I came out of jail in 1998, I have not been out
of Kaduna.
Nasir el Rufai
came into prominence when he was appointed to head the
Bureau for Public Enterprise. And from there, he was made a minister and after
his tenure as minister, he claimed to have gone on exile. So what does he know
about Kaduna and what does he know about Kaduna politics.
When the party was taking off in Kaduna
state
, I initially indicated interest in going for the Governorship
seat. I wanted to contest for the post. At that time he was not yet in the
picture. But when he came into the picture, the leaders said I should defer to
him and I agreed so that he could fly the party’s flag in the Governorship
seat.

 “Go to my
street, unless you just moved in there, there is no way you will not know Shehu Sani. I was born here and I live
here. Ever since I came out of jail in 1998,
I have not been out of Kaduna. Nasir el
Rufai
came into prominence when he was appointed to head the Bureau for
Public Enterprise. And from there, he was made a minister and after his tenure
as minister, he claimed to have gone on exile”

Could this
have been the reason why he is antagonizing you?
I do not know. He is running a
government that is anti-people. He is pursuing capitalist and conservative
politics to drive away the poor as well as the less privileged from Kaduna
state instead of the welfarist programmes that we promised the people. 
Are you the
only one he has alienated? You are so vocal on this
No. I am not the only one, look at the
other leaders of the party, he has alienated them. Many of them struggled to
build the party but they have been alienated by his action since he came to
power, riding on the wings of change
we advocated for. Many of the leaders of the party have been alienated. He rode
to power on the wings of change we struggled
for and the popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari, claiming
to be for the masses. But you can see he is not for the masses. He is for the
rich, and he is bent on collecting land and homes from the poor and give them
to the rich.
Have you taken
his case to the party leadership in the state?
He has succeeded in emasculating the
party. No fewer than 7 members of the party executives are in his government
one way or the other. From the State Chairman to other officers of the party
have been given posts in his administration. He appointed about seven of them into
his government, namely the state Chairman of the party, who is now the deputy
governor; State Secretary, who is now a Commissioner; the Auditor, also a
Commissioner, Assistant Legal Adviser, now also a commissioner; Financial
Secretary, organizing Secretary, now the Chairman, Publicity Secretary,
Auditor, ex-officio members etc; they are all chairmen of local government
councils. You don’t do thing like that and expect people to keep quiet. You
must separate the party from the government. Effectively today, in Kaduna
there is no APC executive, because all members of the executive are in Nasir’s
cabinet.
If you visit the party headquarters, you
will see what I mean. There is hardly anyone there you can say that this person
is in charge. With what he has done, he has pocketed the party. You know Kaduna
State chapter of the APC is one of the chapters that have
these challenges and we are waiting on the national headquarters to take
action.

 “We
have been known as fighters. We have been known to fight injustice. We have
been known to fight blunder in government, we have been known to fight against
marginalization and oppression. We have been known to fight for what is just
and right”.

Are you saying
because he’s new to Kaduna politics that is why he is behaving like this?
Nasir el Rufai is a political
neophyte. He does not know anything about politics. He does not know anything
about Kaduna politics. Look at his appointments. He has refused to appoint
anyone from my local government as a commissioner; meanwhile, some local
governments have two appointees. Is that the way to play politics? How can he
be fighting with me by refusing to appoint anyone from my local government into
the public office? The people of the state are looking at him and they are
waiting for the right time to react to all that he is doing. He has refused to
give them dividends of democracy rather than doing that he is giving them more
pains, people who were poor who elected him are being made poorer by his
programmes. It is obvious h doesn’t know how to play politics.
Look at the appointments he has made by
giving jobs meant for the people of the state to outsiders all in the name of
creating an aura of national acceptability and to show that he has a broader
perspective than the State but this is wrong.
How far are
you willing to go on this?
I am a dogged fighter. Where was he when
we fought the military and ensured that we have this democracy? I am willing to
fight as long as it takes. We have been known as fighters. We have been known
to fight injustice. We have been known to fight blunder in government, we have
been known to fight against marginalization and oppression. We have been known
to fight for what is just and right. He is leading a government that is
alienating the people. He is leading a government that is widening the gap
between the party and the people of Kaduna state that voted us o power. And it
has to stop. We will not rest until we correct this.

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