Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufa’i on Friday said that the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan never believed in the ideology of President Muhammadu Buhari before or after the 2015 Presidential elections. According to him, she did not even vote for President Buhari during the election.
Alhassan has been in the eye of the storm following the release of a video of her visit to Atiku during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations, where she described the former vice-president as “His Excellency” and father of the nation come 2019 and pledged that the people of Taraba were behind him.
The leaked video prompted her invitation on the BBC Hausa Service where she affirmed her stance in the video, reiterating that Atiku had been her godfather from her days in the civil service up to the time she joined politics and hence, it was too late for her to desert him.
She was adamant to the extent of stating that even if Buhari opted to seek re-election in 2019, she would not hesitate to tell him that her loyalty would not be to him but to Atiku.
“If today Mr. President says he is running in 2019, I will go to him respectfully and thank him for giving me an opportunity to serve and then tell him that I have to resign because my political godfather may be running,” said Alhassan.
On whether her position would not cost her, her place in the cabinet, Alhassan said it is God who gives and takes, stressing that everything that has a beginning also has an end.
Meanwhile, with the dust yet to settle over her BBC Hausa Service interview in which she declared her support for former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Mrs. Alhassan has also revealed that Buhari had told his party members before the 2015 elections that he would only seek one term in office.
Alhassan was quoted in a Reuters interview on Wednesday as saying: “In 2014/2015 he said he was going to run for only one time to clean up the mess that the (previous) PDP government did in Nigeria. And I took him for his word that he is not contesting in 2019.” She said Buhari made the promise in 2015 to members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but gave no further details.
According to el-Rufa’i, “The Minister of Women Affairs Jummai Alhassan has been in the Students Union. In the APC she was never in the Buhari camp, she did not support our candidates during the National Convention, she didn’t vote for Buhari during the Primaries. But out of largeness of the President’s heart and to encourage women……
“Even though she was never a supporter of his politics or what he believes in, his ideology. He still believed that to encourage women in politics , what she has tried to do in Taraba earned her being nominated as a Minister. Many in Buhari camp did not support it but he over-rode everybody…
“Her comments are not surprising, she has never been a supporter, she has never believed in Buhari ideology. So, I am not surprised… as a Nigerian, as an individual she has every right to express her views and support whoever she wants.”
As to be expected, the stance of Mrs. Alhassan has elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians, especially commentators on Social Media; while some commended her, others condemned her, based on their sundry reasons.
Minister for Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, Endorses Abubakar Atiku for President. So what? Aren’t we in a democracy? @asjts
The statement by minister of women affairs Aisha Alhassan, calling Atiku the president 2019 is an affront to President Buhari. @hamzajnr
I respect her decision to support Atiku, but Aisha Alhassan should have resigned her position as Minister instead of waiting to be fired. @sanitukurPT
Nothing ‘wrong’ with Aisha Alhassan’s pledge of loyalty to Atiku. But being a member of PMB’s cabinet, doing so makes her a saboteur. @peekaymila
Just watched Minister Aisha Alhassan’s video – courageous stuff from her but ethically wrong and politically questionable as I see it. @DemolaRewaju
However, Party faithfuls and some legislators have called and asked for her sack, according to them, she has shown her dislike for the Buhari administration and preference for Atiku.
But Barr. James Kanyip, a Kaduna based legal practitioner, on his Facebook wall sees it differently. He wrote: “Beyond these comdemnations and commendations, I think the stance taken by Aisha Alhassan has raised a lot of issues about the political practice in Nigeria.
“Politics in Nigeria is more about hypocrisy, deceit and lies. I always tell my friends that the genesis of “419” in Nigeria is politics. Honesty and sincerity have no place in Nigerian politics. Sincere politicians like Aisha Alhassan are few.
“Let us be frank. How many Ministers and other political appointees in President Buhari’s cabinet and government can come out and sincerely tell the whole world where their real allegiance, loyalty and support lie in 2019? Even the elected ones cannot dare do that.
“Some of them will not go with President Buhari if he decides to contest again in 2019, but the hypocrisy in them will not allow them to say it out the way Aisha Alhassan did. They dine and wine with him, but hold secret meetings in the dark to plot how to stab him in the back.
“Aisha Alhassan is currently a servicing Minister. I do not see how her preference for Atiku Abubakar in 2019 will affect the discharge of her official duties. I also do not see how she will be officially disloyal or disrespectful to her Boss, President Buhari.
“There is the need to draw a line between political loyalty and official loyalty. They are two different ball games. One can be politically loyal to a person, while officially loyal to another. This is common place in politics.”
Be that as it may, el-Rufa’i told newsmen at the State House in Abuja before joining President Buhari for juma’at prayer at the Presidential Villa mosque that efforts were being made to ensure Buhari’s re-election. “Some ministers, governors and politicians under the banner of ‘Buharists’ are working to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari re-contests the presidential election in 2019,” he said.
The Kaduna State governor also denied nursing any presidential ambition, saying: “What I want to say here very, very clearly is that I have never been a presidential aspirant. I have never even been a gubernatorial aspirant. My name has continuously been mentioned as a presidential aspirant since 2007, after my years in the FCT. There’s nothing new about that.
“What I want to say here very clearly is that I’ve never been a presidential aspirant, I’ve never even been a gubernatorial aspirant. I’m governor today by the grace of God because President Buhari called me and said go and run for governor of Kaduna State. As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is the president is looking very well, he is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he’ll contest in 2019.”
But, apparently, the standpoint of el-Rufa’i has been taken with a pinch of salt, considering what is known of his antecedents. Thus, the reaction by one AbdurRahman Usman aptly captures this viewpoint: “The kaduna state governor El Rufai never cease to amuse me, why you may ask? He is once again living up to his antecedent as a supine serial liar; opportunism is always the driving mode of all his acts and deeds. I can’t just stop wandering: who does Nasiru think he is fooling this time around? Is there any other known derogatory adjective that this born again Buharist has not used on our beloved President.
“We all know that the real hype behind the call for Buhari to contest is hinged on a two pronged supposed advantage which he may derive from PMB’s re-contesting. One is the thinking that if PMB, so expresses his desire to re-contest, the National Working Committee of the APC would most likely give him the wand of the right of first refusal and by so doing, el Rufa’i and his coterie of so called fellow Governors (Buharists), would have to benefit in like manner from same advantage, that is, automatic second term ticket.
“May God forbid! That may be the albatross of APC. Nigerians are wiser now and the lexicon APC SAK, SAK, has been deleted from our political parlance. Everybody would have to bear his cross both at the party primaries and the General election. And above all, PMB has realized his mistake and has thus vowed never to repeat the mistake that he made in 2011 CPC and 2015 APC.
“The second reason, of course, l have already laid foundation for, that Nigerians say no more SAK, SAK! Nasir el Rufai’s thinking of reaping from a hurricane Buhari in 2019 is no longer feasible, nay realistic. We must sincerely pray that ALLAH(SWT) in his infinite mercy grant our beloved President bountiful health and agility to continue to steer the ship of state a right, and long life and save him from the throes of opportunistic hyena’s like el Rufa’i, who only see him as a tool to be used for their own self seeking interest.”
What will more than anything else add credence to such indictment on the personality of el-Rufa’i is the allusion by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his memoirs ‘MY WATCH’ VOL 2. He said: “Very early in my interaction with him, I appreciated his talent and brilliance. At the same time I recognized his weakness. The worst is his inability to be loyal to anybody or any issue consistently for long, but only to Nasir el Rufa’i.
“He barefacedly lied which he did to me severally about his colleagues and so called friends. I have heard about how he ruthlessly savaged the reputation of his uncle, a man who was like in the African setting, his foster father. I shuddered when I heard of what he did to his half brother in the air force who was senior to him.
“So when Osita Chidoka approached me among others, prodding Nasir as my
possible successor, believing that whoever I supported would make it, which was a false belief, I did not hesitate to point to Nasir’s naivety and immaturity, talk less of his inability to give honour to whom honour is due.
“My vivid recollection of el Rufa’i is his penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories and his inability to sustain loyalty for long. Two years after I left office, Osita came to me to confirm how right I was on my assessment and judgement of el Rufa’i.
“Nasir was described as a malicious liar. He is more than that. He is a
pathological purveyor of half truths and half truths with little and no regard for integrity.”
Again, this is what el Rufa’i, who ceaselessly mentioned of how he loves and believes in Buhari, once said:
“Mallam el-Rufa’i wishes to remind General Buhari that he has remained perpetually unelectable because his record as military head of state, and afterwards, is a warning that many Nigerians have wisely heeded. His insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known.
“In 1984, Buhari allowed 53 suitcases belonging to his ADC’s father to enter Nigeria unchecked at a time the country was exchanging old currency for new. Against all canons of legal decency, he used retroactive laws to execute three young men for drug-peddling after they were convicted by a military tribunal and not regular courts of law.
“Buhari was so high handed that he gave himself and his officials immunity even from truthful reporting. That obnoxious Decree 4, against which truth was no defence, was used to jail journalists and attempt to cow the media as a whole. That tyrannical legislation shows the essence of his intolerance. These are facts of recent history.
“The story of counter-trade and import licensing, the cornerstone of Buhari’s stone-age economic strategy and those whose interests it served, is a tale for another day.”
Yet again, el-Rufa’i was also quoted in the media disparaging Buhari thus: “Pa Muhammadu Buhari (72) is the only Nigerian senior Military officer that failed the senior Military examinations in the history of the Nigerian Military.
“If you check the official names of officers, the likes of IBB, Idiagbon, Diya, Danjuma, Akhibe, Abdusalam, Aikhomu, etc. you see suffix, FSS, Psc, MNi. Pa Buhari has none. He failed the Command and Staff College exams, and all other military examinations.”
So, the question is: between el-Rufa’i and Alhassan, who is the hypocrite? In whichever direction however, according to Barr. Kanyip, “Aisha Alhassan has exhibited courage and boldness which are rare in the Nigerian political space. She dares where men fear. She has proven that she is open and honest. Against some takes, she has also proven that she is trustworthy.”