Top political gladiators close to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and in the Senate have been fingered in the plot to stop the appointment of former Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, as a minister in the present administration.
Naija News understands that El-Rufai’s ministerial confirmation was suspended following a security report by the Department of State Security (DSS).
However, reports have now emerged claiming that the decision to hold back his confirmation emanated from high-wired politics involving the Vice President, Kashim Shettima; Senate President Godswill Akpabio; Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu.
According to reports, the political ‘strongmen’ around the president are looking far ahead to the post-Tinubu years and are worried a cabinet post could put El-Rufai in a prime position to be a political force.
Recall that when El-Rufai appeared before the Senate for the screening, a Senator from Kogi State, Sunday Karimi, after commending El-Rufai for his achievements in public office, said he had a petition against him that bothered on “security, unity, and cohesiveness.” He urged the Senate to consider the petition while screening the nominee.
When El-Rufai wanted to speak to the petition, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, said he should not bother.
However, Leadership newspaper revealed that the petition was allegedly given to Senator Karimi by Akpabio on the morning of the screening exercise. He was only asked to present it. This, perhaps, explains why he was recognized by Akpabio immediately after he raised his hands.
A Senate source disclosed that the letter that the President of the Senate relied on to stop the confirmation of El-Rufai and others was addressed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and signed by one Aminu Yusuf, a Director in the office of the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS).
Leadership reports that the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, alongside the Chief of Staff, Gbajabiamila, allegedly got a Director in the office of the DG, SSS, to sign the letter.
Reliable sources alleged that Shettima, Ribadu, and Gbajabiamila feel threatened by El-Rufai. They allegedly do not want him to serve in the government and succeed because they are already planning for 2027 or 2031, as the case may be, and they see him as a potential threat to their aspirations.
A presidential aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however, dismissed the alleged scheming by the Vice President, the chief of staff, and the national security adviser, saying none of them can act without the president’s approval.
The aide also said it would be unfair to expect them to respond to some of the allegations made by proxy in El-Rufai’s name while the former governor himself has said nothing.
But sources say other forces outside the government are also propelling them.
“If he (Tinubu) really means well and wants El-Rufai to deliver for him on constant power supply, he knows what to do to get him confirmed as it happened in the case of Festus Keyamo.
“Recall that during Obasanjo’s administration, El-Rufai had an issue with the lawmakers when he alleged that some of them were demanding bribe from him. Obasanjo intervened, and the matter was resolved, and the Senate cleared him,” one of the sources said.