Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The popular saying among Nigerians, nay, Africans, that there is no smoke without fire, may have readily given credence to the current strong speculations that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai has made up his mind to run for the 2023 presidential election as a candidate from the north under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
President Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner, is serving his second term in office following his victory at the February presidential election. The latest move by El-rufai, which remains in the background for now, to take a shot at the presidential race in 2023 may go a long way to thwart permutations on the return of power to the South after the North would have had its eight years.
The ‘smoke’ that may have indicated that there is actually a ‘fire’ somewhere towards the presidential ambition of El-rufai was further amplified by some youths in Kaduna State who are believed to be loyal to APC and are already adorning T-shirts with the inscription, “El-rufai for presidency, 2023”.
The youths in their numbers, penultimate Monday, stormed Kaduna Government House, wearing the shirts under El-rufai’s nose to celebrate the tribunal’s judgement that upheld his governorship election against the candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Isah Ashiru.
Some of the youths were seen discussing in groups shortly after the celebration in the Government House. Also, posters, bearing El-rufai’s picture for 2023 presidency were earlier sighted on Kaduna streets, particularly along Gwamna road, in the city centre.
Reacting to the development, a political analyst in the State who did not want his name in print noted that, “I don’t see how a volunteer printer in this hard time will use his or her meagre financial resources to print posters and shirts for a politician who is swimming in money. So there must be an unseen hand funding the project from behind, and very soon the coast will be clear for all to see the man behind the wheels. Let’s just wait and see how the event will unfold”.
However, reacting to the speculation on El-rufai’s ambition, the National Coordinator, Buhari Mass Movement (BMM) in 2015 election and 2019 re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Basheer Garba Umar said El-rufai has the constitutional right to gun for the country’s number one position if he so wished.
Umar who also contested Kaduna governorship elections in 2003 under the platform of National Conscience Party (NCP) and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP) in 2007 respectively without success, added that he is ready to support El-rufai for the presidential race.
According to him, “El-rufai will have my outright support as I deem him an achiever per excellence and a bridge builder. He is constitutionally qualified as a Nigerian to contest for the office. He will be able to muster support in his immediate constituency, North West and by extension Northern Nigeria. Whoever contests with him will surely have some headache as he is a strategist and better than others who feel they can strategize”.
Also, in a recent news item on the Kaduna State owned radio station, 90.9 FM which was aired on September 17, the chairman, Lere local government area, Alhaji Abubakar Buba said, “We will do everything possible to make sure that Governor El-rufai contests the 2023 presidential election”.
“The quality and leadership style of Governor Nasir El-rufai has started attracting agitation from individuals and groups calling on him to contest the 2023 presidential election. One of the groups, Nasiriya organisation inaugurated recently in Kaduna to champion sensitization of the people on the need to work towards achieving this goal. The national chairman of the organisation, Garkuwa Ibrahim Buwaya said the decision was informed by the capability and wisdom of the governor to consolidate on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari after his second term in office”.
For the Kaduna State Publicity Secretary of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Abraham Catoh, “Governor Nasir El-rufai’s speculated aspiration for the 2023 presidential election is entirely his personal decision, which is anchored on the 1999 Constitution and it is also an intra-party affair. In any case, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is still in court challenging the 2019 presidential elections. Should the Supreme Court judgement favour the PDP and Atiku Abubakar, El-rufai and other presidential aspirants would set aside their aspirations till the end of Atiku’s tenure. The legal battle is still on, I can’t speak further than this”.
But for the officials of the State All Progressives Congress (APC), their silence over the speculation was too loud. Neither the State chairman, Air Commodore Emmanuel Jakanda (Retd) nor the State Secretary, Yahaya Baba Pate responded to text messages sent to them by our Correspondent over the issue.