Monday, October 2, 2023

Minister: Power-Play Forced El-Rufai Out – Sources

Former Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, amazed many when he declined a ministerial nomination from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and soon left the country.

Well-regarded for his achievements in both the private and public sectors, El-Rufai was among the initial 28 of 48 nominees President Tinubu selected for ministerial roles in July.

He was slated to head the new Ministry of Power and Energy, given the persistent challenges in Nigeria’s electricity sector.

During his vetting, El-Rufai confirmed his dedication to improving the country’s electricity supply, asserting, “I will do my best.”

Despite his reputation, Sunday Karimi, a representative for Kogi West, raised security concerns against El-Rufai during the screening.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio suggested such petitions be set aside for the time. Yet, the Senate later paused El-Rufai’s confirmation, along with two others, due to security clearance issues.

The news created mixed feelings, with sources telling Premium Times that the embarrassment was why El-Rufai had informed the president that he was withdrawing his ministerial interest.

The president then asked for 24 hours grace to review the petitions and the SSS report to the Senate to enable him to reach a decision.

As of Friday, there are reports that El-Rufai had left the country for Egypt after making his position clear to President Tinubu.

A source who spoke with Daily Trust on the development said, “Even after he made the decision to withdraw, he held meetings with local meter manufacturers and other stakeholders in the power and energy sector, where he urged them to work with whoever would come in as minister.”

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The platform claimed that more facts have emerged on why El-Rufa was confirmed because of the petition against him.

Sources claimed that power play and gang-up against El-Rufai came from various angles, including the presidency.

It was noted that the petition and alleged security concerns were a mere ruse cooked up by some powerful persons to frustrate the former governor’s chances.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Some very powerful Nigerians, it appears, are not comfortable with the kind of reforms El-Rufai was bringing to the power and energy sector.

“Every reform attracts some form of resistance, and so, what El-Rufai did as minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was possible because he had the tenacity to do it but also because he had the support of his principal, former President Olusegun Obasanjo. People still tried to stand in the way of the reforms but because there was political will, it was done.”

Other sources that spoke with the platform said El-Rufai decided to withdraw his ministerial appointment because of the ‘body’ language of the president.

It was noted that El-Rufai on Tuesday led some members of the team he had assembled to the Villa on Wednesday, where they made a presentation.

However, a source close to the former governor revealed that El-Rufai had made his decision to withdraw his ministerial appointment even before the meeting with the president.

A source said, “What happened on Monday couldn’t have happened except there was some nod and wink from the place where the nomination came from.”

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He said for someone who never asked for an appointment, El-Rufai was unfairly treated.

Another source, “He never begged for it. In fact, he was begged to come and work for them, and when he finally agreed, they subjected him to what happened on Monday.

“Some very powerful people are not comfortable with him and the president is now part of it. Why will the State Security Service (SSS) clear people with corruption cases; some nationally and even internationally and then fail to clear El-Rufai? It is political and it is unfortunate that the president would allow himself to be part of this.”

It was also noted that El-Rufai had planned to obtain his doctorate at the time of his nomination. Those close to him said he would carry on with his studies.

A source said, “If you nominate someone and you later change your mind, you decide that the kind of things he is likely to do, you may not be able to support him, then you should invite him and say look. I think we should find a different way of working together. Maybe he should not take a full-time role.”


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