A former governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, took many by surprise when he withdrew his ministerial nomination before President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and soon after, jetted out of the country.
The former governor and one-time minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was one of the 48 persons nominated by President Tinubu as ministers in July.
El-Rufai’s name had emerged in the first batch of 28 nominees forwarded to the National Assembly for approval on July 27.
Many said his track record, both in the private and public sectors, had made him, unlike many politicians in Nigeria, and he was believed to be a major asset to the Tinubu government.
Sources said this was why President Tinubu included his name as the one to drive what was to become a new Ministry of Power and Energy.
Despite guzzling billions of naira in many decades, the electricity sector in Nigeria remains comatose, with many saying only the likes of El-Rufai could demystify it.
During his screening exercise, the former governor had spoken clearly when he said President Tinubu was committed to ensuring that Nigeria had a stable and reliable electricity supply, and stressed, “I will do my best.”
Political pundits said that for anyone who knows Malam Nasir el-Rufai, his best is always enough. However, Sunday Karimi, representing Kogi West senatorial district had during the screening presented a petition against him, saying it concerned security, unity and national cohesion. The Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, had however, suggested that petitions should not be addressed during the screening exercise.
But in what many saw as a major setback, the Senate on Monday withheld the confirmation of El-Rufai alongside Stella Okotete from Delta State and Senator Abubakar Sani from Taraba State, citing security clearance.
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.
Beyond the security breach claim
However, fresh facts emerged Friday on why El-Rufai, known for his track record of getting the job done, would be shut down by a mere petition.
Sources said the power play and gang-up against El-Rufai came from various angles, including the presidency. The petition and alleged security concerns, Daily Trust Saturday gathered, were a mere ruse cooked up by some powerful persons to frustrate the former governor’s chances.
“Some very powerful Nigerians, it appears, are not comfortable with the kind of reforms El-Rufai was bringing to the power and energy sector,” a source who asked to remain anonymous said.
“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,” he said.
Other sources told our reporter that El-Rufai’s decision to withdraw his ministerial appointment was as a result of the president’s body language, which the former minister was disappointed with.