President Bola Ahmed Tinubu might be forced to hunt for another minister as former Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i has reportedly has withdrawn his interest in being part of the president’s cabinet.
El-Rufai was among three ministerial nominees whose confirmations were withheld by the Senate on Monday. They were among 48 total ministerial nominations forwarded to the upper parliamentary chamber by Tinubu, with lawmakers clearing 45 names who are now being assigned portfolios.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio was silent on what informed the body’s decision to reject three ministers.
Whereas the grounds for withholding confirmation for the two other nominees, Abubakar Danladi of Taraba and Stella Okotete of Delta, were publicly documented, even if unstated by Akpabio, El-Rufai’s fate has been stranded in the realm of high-octane speculations that have proven rather stubborn for his supporters to quell.
Some of his opponents swore the hold was due to Mr El-Rufai’s handling of ethnic and sectarian clashes that overshadowed most of his tenure as a two-term governor; while others cited the politician’s insinuated propensity for corruption and betrayal of allies.
However, in a new development on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, El-Rufai told President Tinubu at a meeting that he was no longer interested in becoming a minister but would continue to contribute his quota to the development of Nigeria as a private citizen.
According to Premium Times, a source in the senate said; “He also told the president that he needed time to focus on his doctorate programme at a university in The Netherlands,” one of our sources said.
Another insider also told this medium that the former governor suggested a new ministerial nominee — Jafaru Ibrahim Sani — for Kaduna State, saying the President would find him very useful and resourceful.
Mr. Sani served as commissioner in three ministries in Kaduna State (Local Government Education and Environment) while El-Rufai was governor.
It was said that when El-Rufai met with Tinubu after his nomination was withheld by the Senate, 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.
It was at that point that El-Rufai responded that he was no longer interested in being minister since it appeared some forces around the president were scheming intensely to block his emergence as federal minister.
El-Rufai had disclosed during his confirmation hearing on 1 August that Tinubu asked him to work with him on the power problem facing the country.
According to him, the President had given a target of seven years for Nigeria to stop experiencing power outages in the country.
At the Tuesday meeting, El-Rufai also reportedly told the President that since he would no longer be in the federal executive council, he would return the next day with his team to present the preliminary work done so far on the energy sector.
The team that accompanied the former governor to make presentations to the president on Wednesday includes Eyo Ekpo, a former commissioner at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Hafiz Bayero, a former commissioner and administrator of the Kaduna Capital Territory Authority; Tolu Oyekan of the Boston Consulting Group and Ayodele Oni, a lawyer.
Olu Verheijen, the special adviser to the President on Energy Matters, presented on Gas.
El-Rufai is studying for a doctorate in public policy at the United Nations University, Maastricht.
His associates say as he prepared to leave office as governor in May this year, he had indicated his desire to exit public life and concentrate on his Ph.D. programme.
But that was until then President-elect Tinubu asked him to join his cabinet so he could charge him with the responsibility of repositioning the inefficient power sector in Africa’s largest economy.
It is unclear what suddenly went wrong between the two men such that an agency of government would block El-Rufai’s ministerial nomination without the president lifting a finger.
When contacted, Muyiwa Adekeye, the media adviser to El-Rufai, declined to comment for this story.