It is an open secret that President Muhammadu Buhari has just a few favourites amongst the 36 governors from the 36 states of the federal republic of Nigeria. To get into the president’s book of favourites, we hear, you must be of impeccable character. You must possess an unblemished record as a governor and as an individual. You must have proven yourself over time as a man of undeniable integrity. Most importantly, you must not be one of those under investigation by the EFCC. And Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, fits perfectly into this bill.
It is public knowledge that El-Rufai is very close to the President. This close relationship with Buhari enables him to have some measure of influence on Mr. President. He is, without a doubt, one of those with unhindered access to the president. Indeed, he is one of the most regular state governors at the Presidential Villa.
Sources within the Villa say that the governor doesn’t book his visits in advance. Protocols are simply waived for him. And it must be said that Mr. President likes him too. In fact, he does not joke with El-Rufai. This is because El-Rufai is one of those close to the president who have shown uncommon loyalty to him, and the president knows this too.
Nasir El-Rufai is an ally of president Buhari. The small statured man is not only a party loyalist but also a fierce defender of his principal the President. He is forever quick to defend Buhari and his policies.
Just last year, weeks before the presidential elections, he threatened foreign observers with death in body bags should they report anything negative and un-investigated on the election. While many see this man as arrogant and cocky, others see him as an epitome of forthrightness, honesty and loyalty, and these are exactly what Mr. President saw and loves about him. On account of his closeness to the President, El-Rufai has been very influential in some of the major appointments so far made by the present administration.
Prominent among the appointments that the governor had his input was Buhari’s appointment of Prof. Umaru Danbatta as the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission. It is widely believed that one of the reasons Mr. President has a soft spot for El-Rufai is because of his remarkable intelligence and proven integrity.
Integrity has always been Mallam Nasir El-Rufai’s middle name. Right from his days as minister of the federal capital territory, Abuja, a position he held from 2003 to 2004, El-Rufai proved to everyone that he is a no-nonsense individual who is not ready to compromise his integrity and reputation for financial gains. He has zero tolerance for corruption. This is why a lot of politicians and public office holders fear him. You cannot go to El-Rufai for under table deals. You cannot dare bring to his table any shady arrangement that will leave his state, or even the federal government, short changed. He will blow the whistle on you and set the appropriate agencies after you if you are stupid enough to dare such nonsense.
In the same vein, you cannot speak ill of President Buhari while Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is within ear shot. He will take you on squarely and give you a thousand and one reasons why he believes the president is the best thing to happen to Nigeria at this time. With Rufai, what you see is what you get. If he is for you, then he stands by for you forever, through the good and bad times. We hear he is also planning to give the presidency a shot come 2023, perhaps this is where he will be paid back for his loyalty. It will certainly not be a surprise to many should the president name El-Rufai as his chosen successor come 2023.
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