Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has insisted that he has no apologies on his remarks on how to defeat political godfathers in Lagos state.
El-Rufai a week ago in Ikoyi, Lagos, at an event organised by the Bridge Club tagged, “An evening with His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State” said that he defeated and retired four political godfathers in Kaduna State, saying that the feat could be replicated anywhere, including Lagos State.
Speaking to State House correspondents after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the general security situation in Kaduna, he denied that he had problems with his party not the national leader of his party, All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.
On his dispute with Tinubu, the governor said: “There is no dispute between me and anyone in the APC; the APC is one family; I don’t dispute with my own party. They may dispute with me but I don’t.
“I made comments in Lagos about how to retire god-fathers; it is a template that we have used in Kaduna and it has worked. If anybody thinks he is a god-father, the template may apply to him but I am not in dispute with anyone. I expressed my views firmly and very clearly; there is no human being that I am afraid to express my views on, and when I am ready to express my views specifically on a particular name then I will do so but I haven’t. I made a general statement but people have gone in for overdrive, creating fake news, abusing me and so on. I am thick-skined; I can take the abuse and I will wait for my time when I want to….”
Speaking on his relationship with Tinubu, El-Rufai said: “We are in the same party, we get along very well as far as I know.”
Asked if he would want Tinubu retired, he responded: “I don’t know if he is the god-father of Lagos; it’s up to him to say that. What I know for sure is that we have retired god-fathers in Kaduna and I have told those that asked me the question that ‘there are six million registered voters in Lagos, but only one million voted in the last election. So there are five million people that you can bring into the electoral play ground and you can defeat anyone if you work hard. It’s hard work; it’s four years. That is what I said and if anyone feels offended by that, that is his business or her business.”
Asked if he wants Lagos to follow his template on retirement of god-fathers, El-Rufai said: “I have no recommendations for Lagos; I am the governor of Kaduna State; I know Kaduna politics pretty well and I played my role in my party towards the success of the party. I have not recommendation for anyone; I am just saying, if I were asked a question and I gave an answer, anyone that feels offended by the answer, that’s his own business. I have no apologies; I don’t apologise for my views. My views are thought-out and I put them there. I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. This is a democracy, and in a democratic space, there must be room for people to express their views. You can disagree, you can abuse me if you don’t like my views but that is it.”
On why he was in the Presidential Villa, El-Rufai said: “I came to see Mr. President to brief him on the general security situation in Kaduna which I do from time to time and also to update him on the various initiatives by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the SSS, and the armed forces with a view to improving the security situation in Kaduna in general and particularly along the Abuja-Kaduna road.
“I want to say that the initiatives put in place have made the road quite safe now. I can say confidently that anyone can get on that road because I don’t want to go into details of the measures that have already been put in place but I am confident that with the security system in place now, people can be confident to drive on the Abuja-Kaduna road without any fear.”
Asked to reconcile Senate’s description of the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway as the most dangerous highway in Africa whereas he says it is safe, the governor said: “If you believe everything that comes out of the Nigerian Senate, you will have serious mental health problems. There are things that are said there that are just for the gallery, for the media.
“I don’t know what statistics that were used to determine that the Kaduna-Abuja road is the most dangerous anywhere. I like facts; I like using figures. I wish the people that said that would use figures. But I am saying that no matter what anyone said last week, I am assuring Nigerians that the Kaduna -Abuja road is quite safe now and would be so as long as the initiatives put in place by the various security agencies, details of which I am not willing to disclose.”
He said he was guaranteeing travelers safty on the road but however added: “Only God can guarantee total safety. But I am saying as the governor of the state, based on the security measures put in place, I am confident that the road is safe and I drive on that road.”