Uba Sani vs El-Rufai: The bubble has burst at last

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Uba Sani vs El-Rufai

There is no doubt that the relationship between the former governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, and his godson, Governor Uba Sani, has gone sour following the recent angry outburst from Governor Sani over the huge debt he inherited from his predecessor.

The governor said the administration inherited $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities from the administration of El-Rufai.

Governor Sani lamented that due to the rise in the exchange rate, the state is now paying back almost triple what was borrowed by the previous administration.

Governor Sani made the statement in Kaduna penultimate Saturday while addressing a town hall meeting.

The governor said the huge debt burden was eating deep into the state’s federal allocation.

He explained that N7 billion out of the N10 billion federal allocations for the state in March was deducted to service the state’s debt.

The governor lamented that the N3 billion left from the allocation was not enough to pay salaries, as the state’s monthly salary bill stands at N5.2 billion.

However, Governor Sani said despite the debt inherited, his administration has not borrowed “a single kobo” in the last nine months of his government.

“Despite the huge debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion and 115 contractual liabilities sadly inherited from the previous administration, we remain resolute in steering Kaduna State towards progress and sustainable development.

“We have conducted a thorough assessment of our situation and are sharpening our focus accordingly. It gladdens my heart to inform you that despite the huge inherited debt on the state, to date, we have not borrowed a single kobo,” the governor said.

The governor further said the key priority areas of his government include safety and security, housing, education, healthcare, and support for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.

“Thus if today Governor Uba Sani is complaining about this debt, then one can only be seen to be confused. The same loan he facilitated as a Senator? Didn’t he have an insight into the implications of this loan before he helped Governor El-Rufai secure it?”

You’re trying to cover your administration’s incompetence – Bashir El-Rufai

In an apparent reaction to Governor Sani’s remark, the son of the former governor, Bashir El-Rufai, in a tweet on X said the governor was only trying to cover his administration’s incompetence.

El-Rufai claimed that the governor had “deflected” from his responsibilities and abandoned his duty as governor.

“These guys have realised that they are wholly incompetent and the only way to mask the nonsense is to deflect. From a governor who is always sleeping in Abuja to a litany of incompetent aides who were only rewarded for foolish political reasons,” he said.

You’re an ingrate, APC Women Leader slams Governor Sani

The Kaduna State chapter of the All Progressives Congress also suspended the state Women Leader for defending former governor Nasir El-Rufai in the recent controversy over the state’s debt.

The state APC Women Leader strongly rebuked Governor Sani for his remarks, recalling how El-Rufai helped him to become governor.

In a video she posted on her official Facebook page, Maryam Suleiman (Mai Rusau), speaking in Hausa, described Governor Sani as an ingrate.

“If you say there is no money in Kaduna State, why don’t you resign? Notwithstanding the huge debt burden, you ran from pillar to post trying to get the party’s governorship ticket from El-Rufai. El-Rufai did not stop at anything until he got you the seat.

“And about the loan, as a senator, Uba Sani was the arrowhead of securing the loans for the El-Rufai administration. He was deeply involved in that, and he is saying the state is burdened with loans,” she said.

The APC, in a letter co-signed by the state Chairperson and Secretary, Ali Maishago and Zakka Bassahuwa respectively, announced the suspension of Mrs. Suleiman for alleged defamation of the character of the governor.

The letter reads, “The Badarawa/Malali Ward APC Executive Committee after due deliberations and careful examinations on the viral video clip released on 30th March, 2024 via social networks; Facebook, WhatsApp, and Tiktok, which is against the constitution of our dear party APC as stated in article 21.2 (v).

“In view of the above, below are the gross misconducts where the subsequent suspension relied upon:
“Defamation of character of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State Malam Uba Sani.

“Unauthorised publicity of the party dispute that discredited the personality of the Executive Governor of Kaduna State.

“Furthermore, from today Sunday 31st of March, 2024, the leadership of APC Badarawa/Malali Ward unanimously resolved to suspend Hajiya Maryam Suleiman (Mai Rusau) from the Party pending further investigation on the matter from the constituted authority.”

However, Suleiman said she has no regrets over her criticisms of Governor Uba Sani.

Suleiman described her suspension by the party for criticizing the governor as an act of God, adding that she remained unruffled.

The embattled women leader said she remained unperturbed by her suspension, insisting that she spoke the truth.

She added she was only aware of her purported suspension on social media, noting that 24 hours after the announcement, she had yet to be served any letter of suspension from her Nasarawa/Malaki Ward.

“I only read of my suspension on social media. I am yet to receive any suspension letter from our party,” she said.

She said she stood by what she said in the viral video, saying that what the governor did was a clear case of betrayal.

According to her, El-Rufai did everything for Uba to become a senator and later governor, she said in the controversial video.

She also advised the governor against setting himself against El-Rufai, whom she described as “our leader.”

“I have no regrets over my criticism of Governor Sani. I thank God for all that happened.

“I only heard of my suspension on social media. I am yet to be served the suspension letter.

“In any case, I stand by what I said about the governor. I have no regrets at all. I remained unruffled by my actions because I stated the obvious.

“As a senator, Governor Uba Sani is the arrowhead of securing loans by the El-Rufai administration. He was deeply involved in that,” she added.

APC leaders must resolve cold war between Sani, El-rufai – Lukman

A former National Vice Chairman, North West of the All Progressives Congress, Salihu Moh Lukman, has urged stakeholders in the Kaduna State chapter and national secretariat to seize the initiative to resolve the unfolding cold war between the incumbent governor, Uba Sani, and his immediate predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai.

Lukman, in a statement in Abuja, titled “Kaduna State Political Theatrics,” declared that Governor Uba could not insulate himself from the perceived excesses of the former governor.

“The hard truth also is that Mallam Uba was one of his strongest collaborators in Kaduna State.

“The reality was that everything Mallam Nasir did during his eight-year tenure was endorsed and supported by Mallam Uba.

“Certainly, the decision of Mallam Nasir to anoint Mallam Uba as his successor must have been informed by the consideration of their strong personal relationship.

“That shortly after taking over, the two friends are falling apart is most unfortunate and only reminds one of what played out between Alh. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and Arc. Namadi Sambo between 2007 and 2010.

“These were very close friends and business partners, on account of which Alh. Makarfi anointed Arc. Sambo emerged as his successor in 2007. Today, the relationship between the two is still very bad.”

The former Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum said leaders of the party must take every necessary step to resolve the misunderstanding between the estranged chieftains of the party.

“The point is we need to move away from noise-making to substantive issues of strengthening governance.

“Without prejudice to all the initiatives being taken by the government of Mallam Uba, the debate about the huge debt profile of Kaduna State must be about strengthening the capacity of the government to resolve the challenge.
“It is not simply about Mallam Nasir vs. Mallam Uba. Already, I have seen young people jump into the debate in a very disrespectful manner.

“We must caution that, as much as everyone is welcome to make a contribution, such contribution must be about what needs to be done to resolve the challenge, which is a function of knowledge.

“After all, we pride ourselves on Kaduna State as a centre of learning. Being a centre of learning requires that our politics be about the application of knowledge.

“My final appeal to Mallam Uba and all our leaders, both in Kaduna State and at the national level, is that we must summon the courage to admit our failure as a political party.

“Whatever could have been the shortcomings of Mallam Nasir as Governor of Kaduna State between 2015 and 2023 would have been strengthened by the absence of a strong functional party structure, which could have checked or at the very least moderated the excesses of Mallam Nasir.

“Those realities are still there today, and if allowed to continue, they could lead Mallam Uba in the wrong direction, whose implication may only become another subject of contestation between him and his successor.

“The truth is democracy is as bad as any dictatorship so long as political parties continue to behave as shadow participants or observers in the business of governance.

“Like Mallam Nasir once thought he was incontrovertible, if care is not taken, all the current issues about Kaduna State’s huge debt profile may end up only making Mallam Uba assume a similar incontrovertible outlook.

“Praise singers must not be allowed to take over a critical debate that is about the future of the state. Such a debate must not be reduced to the political theatrics of determining the future of the state in terms of only who is right or wrong between a predecessor and successor. Such an approach only stagnated the state in the past.”

What goes around comes around

Another Kaduna-based politician, Achadu Gabriel, said Governor Sani should have himself to be blamed for the unfolding crisis.

“As much as I cannot hold forth for Governor Uba Sani in the debt burden brouhaha a deeper look at the events leading up to it is revealing
“A quick breakdown of what happened between 2015 and 2019 shows that Mallam Uba Sani was Political Adviser to Governor Nasir El-Rufai. Accordingly, Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi represented Kaduna North at the Senate, while Senator Shehu Sani who represented Kaduna Central then were all in the ruling All Progressive.

“When Governor El-Rufai sought a staggering amount of external debt, Senators Hunkuyi and Sani joined hands with Kaduna South’s Senator Danjuma Laah of the opposition People’s Democratic Party to work against the debt, making sure it didn’t pass through parliamentary approval.

“Of course it was because of political grievances. The infuriated Governor El-Rufai, got to a point where he literally poured invectives on the three senators from Kaduna State on a podium.

“Senator Hunkuyi was the unluckiest because later on his house situated at Sambo road in Unguwar Rimi was demolished. The Kaduna State Government said it demolished the house because of “flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010.” This same house was once used as campaign office for Kaduna APC gubernatorial candidate Nasir El-Rufai.”

Gabriel recalled that both Senators Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani had to leave APC in 2019, when they couldn’t get the ticket to contest for reelection in the APC.

“You can’t fight an incumbent governor to this length and still expect your ticket, unless you are a political juggernaut like Bola Ahmed Tinubu who fought against an incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and unseated him,” he stressed.

Gabriel added that between 2019 and 2023, Governor El-Rufai conveniently sacked the two Senators who were instrumental in blocking his desire for this huge external debt, using all state apparatus and tactics. According to him, Senators Hunkuyi and Sani were sent back home and he replaced them with Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari and the current Governor of Kaduna State- Senator Uba Sani.

With them, he said Governor El-Rufai got his rubber stamp as he expressly got his $350 million loan for Kaduna State.

“Thus if today Governor Uba Sani is complaining about this debt, then one can only be seen to be confused. The same loan he facilitated as a Senator? Didn’t he have an insight into the implications of this loan before he helped Governor El-Rufai secure it?

“The main objective of El-Rufai sending Senator Uba and Senator Kwari to the Senate was to get this loan approved, and they succeeded in getting the state indebted, the work that Hunkuyi and Shehu Sani refused to do.

“Well, today we are enjoying our asphalt roads and the flyover bridge at Kawo, as Governor Uba reveals that the Federal Government deducts N7 billion from our N10 billion allocation to service El-Rufai’s loans. It seems His Excellency cannot remember the role he played in getting Kaduna to this state of affairs.

“Your Excellency, I personally think we should look for another loan o, even if from Qatar. There are so many uncompleted projects scattered all over Kaduna. These uncomplicated projects are visiting untold hazards and inconvenience to residents. Please let’s get more loans to finish them first.

“Hon Isa Ashiru Kudan couldn’t be luckier than this. Had he succeeded Mallam El-Rufai, he would have been mocked for his “incompetence”. No one would have believed him if he says that he is tied down by a huge debt profile.

“What goes around comes around. Before casting stones into the pond of life, remember the ripples effects they create may return as tidal waves. Politicians are politicians,” Gabriel added philosophically.

“Before he lost his ministerial bid in President Tinubu’s cabinet, he had boasted that he would not be minister, having served as the FCT minister at the age of 43”

Nasir El-Rufai was fond of courting controversy when he ruled Kaduna State. He made unguarded utterances against both his enemies and friends alike, for eight years.

His critics, including a former senator from Kaduna State, Shehu Sani had described him as an opportunist, whose political career was characterized by switching loyalty and allegiance, political sycophancy and crass opportunism.

He was also accused of betraying all those who assisted him in his glorious political career, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and lately, former President Muhammadu Buhari.

As governor, El-Rufai’s word was law to the extent that he once declared that he would never retire to the National Assembly because he did not have the patience required to lobby other lawmakers to implement legislative functions.
“The legislature is one branch of government I know I can never function. The hard work needed to convince people to support even your motion is something some of us have no patience for.
“You know management in the executive is very straightforward; it is very hierarchical and once you are a governor, your word is almost law. But in the legislature, everybody is equal and there is no management that is more difficult than managing your equals,” the governor reportedly explained.

At the peak of the nationwide invasion of Nigerian farming communities by murderous herdsmen from the neighbouring countries, El-Rufai’s comment that the governors in the southern parts of the country lacked the capacity to implement the anti-open grazing laws they made in their federating units, was regarded as impunity taken too far.

His state became a killing field during his eight-year tenure and he could not find the solution to the killings, yet he claimed that other governors should not make laws to stop the escalation of the killings in their states.
El-Rufai’s utterances on the Muslim-Muslim tickets during the 2023 presidential election were also viewed by his critics as having the capacity to potentially hurt the efforts of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to heal the wounds of the last general election.

The then governor had insinuated in a video that went viral that it was only when Muslims dominated the state government that his administration was fair to all.

El-Rufai had also curiously suggested that allowing Muslims to occupy all the major positions was an indication that religious politics had been eliminated in Nigeria.

Having gained notoriety for making what were widely perceived as inflammatory and divisive utterances on religious, ethnic and other national issues, many analysts were not surprised that the Senate withheld his confirmation as minister over security screening.

Before he lost his ministerial bid in President Tinubu’s cabinet, he had boasted that he would not be minister, having served as the FCT minister at the age of 43.

The former Kaduna State governor had in the past also declared that he did not believe in President Tinubu’s style of politics.

Since he lost his ministerial bid, his political fortunes have diminished considerably to the extent that his recent association with the leaders of the Social Democratic Party fuelled speculations that he was on his way out of the ruling All Progressives Congress.