The controversial memo sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna State is still generating reactions from within and outside the ruling party. Mr. el-Rufa’i had, in the leaked memo, complained about certain things in the way the country and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were being administered.
Barely 48 hours after the Kaduna governor’s visit to the presidential villa where he took a swipe at unnamed presidency insiders who he alleged leaked the memo, which was written as a private correspondence to the president, reactions are again trailing his comment on the contributions of the various legacy groups within the party to its victory at the 2015 presidential election.
In the memo, el-Rufa’i had posited that, “the Lagos group more or less led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the most organised and proactive. This group made a key contribution in our electoral success, but like all groupings it naturally exaggerates its role in order to increase its influence in the coming administration. The group will use the media to promote its own “GMB Boys” or suggest “Northerners” of their choice that they think would do their bidding.
“Some already are boasting that they will choose the next petroleum minister and the executive leadership of the NNPC. They will seek direct control or great influence over key economic portfolios, including agencies involved in revenue generation (NNPC, FIRS, Customs, etc.) law enforcement (Attorney General, EFCC, etc.) and financial services regulation (CBN, SEC, PenCom, etc.). This group will seek an alliance with some GMB family members to help strengthen their pre-eminent position in these areas.”
The memo, according to some revelations that trailed it, was written by the Kaduna governor, and received by the President, sometime in 2015, before the nomination of ministers by President Buhari. Consequently, many of those who spoke with The Nation accused el-Rufa’i of fanning the ember of discord with his argument.
A cross section of prominent Nigerians including elder statesmen and politicians who spoke with The Nation, expressed dissatisfaction with el-Rufai’s attempt to water down the roles played by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the South West in Buhari’s victory at the polls and hoped that the Kaduna governor as well as those commenting on his controversial memo will not create problems for President Buhari and the ruling party.
Former Governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, who is also the National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), cautioned el-Rufa’i and his likes against causing unnecessary friction within the ruling party. According to him, it is very true and undeniable to say that Asiwaju Tinubu and the South-West won the presidency for the APC in 2015.
While admitting that the various legacy groups played significant roles in the party’s victory, Balarabe insisted that Buhari could not have won the presidency without the support of Tinubu and his camp. He therefore warned against any attempt by anybody or group within the party to deny Tinubu his dues.
“It is undeniably true that Asiwaju Tinubu and the South-West won the presidency for the APC in 2015. Buhari could not have won the presidency without the support of Tinubu and his camp. I therefore want to say that nobody or group within the party should attempt to deny Tinubu his dues.
“Come to think of it, it is actually Tinubu and his people in the South West that galvanised the entire nation to support the candidacy of Buhari in the last election. They led the way and others followed. It is therefore a statement of fact that Tinubu facilitated the eventual victory of APC and Buhari in that election. So, I disagree with el-Rufai’s position on that matter.
Speaking further, the former Kaduna State governor averred that it is not for el-Rufa’i or anybody to say whether the South West has been fairly treated by the current administration. According to him, it is left for Tinubu and his people to appraise the situation and decide whether they’ve gotten their fair share of the victory.
“I will say it is up to Tinubu and his associates to say whether he has been fairly treated by his party and the government he help so much to install. It is not for me to say that. It is also not for el-Rufa’i to say that. I don’t know what Tinubu asked for or what he got in the arrangement. Only him and his people will know that,” he said.
Also, frontline PDP chieftain and former gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Mrs. Remi Adiukwu, asked el-Rufa’i to tell Nigerians the role he played in the victory of both the ruling party and President Buhari in the 2015 general election before his statement about Tinubu can be taken seriously.
The female politician described the Kaduna governor as someone who is fond of seeking attention at all times. “That is the reason why he usually talks balderdash,” she said while submitting that rather than contributing to Buhari’s victory, el-Rufa’i merely benefited from the political success that the likes of Tinubu turned APC into in 2015.
“I will want el-Rufa’i to tell Nigerians the role he played in the victory of his party and President Buhari in the 2015 general election before I can take his statement about Tinubu serious. I’ve known the Kaduna Governor as someone who is fond of seeking attention at all times. That is the reason why he usually talks balderdash. There is no way Buhari could have been President without Tinubu or the South West behind him.
“el-Rufa’i contributed nothing to Buhari’s victory even in his home state of Kaduna. He merely benefited from the political success that the likes of TInubu turned APC into in 2015. Without Buhari and the APC platform in 2015, he wouldn’t have even contested not to talk of winning the election. He benefited from the politics of Asiwaju Tinubu. He is not qualified to question Tinubu’s place in the party or government,” Adiukwu said.
Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said while it is true that all parties to the victory played one role or the other in the presidential victory of the ruling party, it is on record that Tinubu and his people from the South West worked exceptionally hard for the emergence of Buhari as President in 2015.
“All the people involved played their parts well. I think victory should not be attributed to one person or group. But it is important to state that Tinubu worked hard to see Buhari win the election. The fact that he agreed to the merger that led to the formation of APC should give him a lot of credit. They should give him credit. I think el-Rufa’i is talking too much. He should know better than to say such things.
“The South West played the major role in APC’s victory in 2015. Buhari cannot win the presidency without the support he got from the southwest and this was made possible largely by Tinubu. el Rufa’i should not create disaffection within his party with such claims as he is said to be making about the role of TInubu and the South West.
“Tinubu is the arrowhead of APC’s emergence as a ruling party. As to whether he has been fairly treated, I will say yes. But if someone like el Rufa’i is now trying to water down his importance in the ruling party, or in the government he laboured so hard to put in place, he is not being treated with the respect he deserve,” he said.
When asked for his take on the raging controversy, Afenifere chieftains and frontline PDP leader, Chief Ebenezer Babatope declined comment, saying, “Thank you very much for interviewing me. But the matter at hand is not a PDP affair; it is strictly an APC issue. As such, it is of no interest to me. I can only wish them good luck.”
But fellow Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin sees the issue differently. According to him, it is only an ingrate that will make the type of statement being credited to Governor el-Rufa’i. Odumakin accused APC leaders of denying the South West its rightful place in the scheme of things after the region worked hard to install Buhari as President in 2015.
“It is only an ingrate that will make such a statement. Buhari contested three times before 2015 and though he won in the north, he lost the presidency. Buhari will always win in the north. But he won the presidency in 2015 because he won 52 percent of the votes in the South West. That was what gave him victory. If the South West had voted the way South East and South-South voted, APC couldn’t have won the presidency.
“Sadly, apart from ministerial slots which is statutory, South West have not been fairly treated by APC and Buhari. Look at the security chiefs, except for the Chief of Defence Staff, which is even ceremonial, all other service chiefs are northerners. And that is also the situation in many escorts of the country today.
“The contribution of the likes of Asiwaju Tinubu to the victory of President Buhari during the last presidential election have not been properly appreciated. And when one now begin to hear the type of statements said to have emanated from Governor el Rufa’i of Kaduna state, it shows the party is unappreciative of Tinubu’s sacrifice for the APC,” Odumakin explained.