EL-RUFAI TO PMB: TAKE CHARGE OF NIGERIA NOW

AKAMANU JENNIFER

The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, in a rare memo to Muhammadu Buhari, has told the Nigerian President how bad the nation was faring under his watch, how the president’s policies, actions and in-actions have contributed to the nation’s woes, and what could be done to steer Nigeria back to greatness.

Mr. El-Rufai sent the 30-page memo to president Buhari on September 2016.

In the memo, he touched several areas, ranging from the ailing economy, the dynamics of the nation’s politics, lack of coercion within the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), and the poor relationship between the president and the national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, and other party leaders, including the APC governors.

He said Mr. Buhari was yet to have control over the party structures and blamed the situation partly on the people who were advising the president.

He said many of the party leaders – like Mr. Tinubu, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and Musa Kwankwaso – were feeling aggrieved that they were most often not consulted by the president or by those that the president assigned such duties to.

“This may not be your intention or outlook, but that is how it appears to those that watch from afar,” Mr. El-Rufai said.

“This situation is compounded by the fact that some officials around you seem to believe and may have persuaded you that current APC State Governors must have no say and must also be totally excluded from political consultations, key appointments and decision-making at the federal level.
“These politically-naive ‘advisers’ fail to realize that it is the current and former state governors that may, as members of NEC of the APC, serve as an alternative locus of power to check the excesses of the currently lopsided and perhaps ambivalent NWC.

“Alienating the governors so clearly and deliberately ensures that you have near-zero support of the party structure at both national and state levels.”

Mr. El-Rufai said Mr. Buhari’s closest aides like the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the president’s Chief of Staff weren’t fit to manage the president’s politics.

“The SGF is not only inexperienced in public service but is lacking in humility, insensitive and rude to virtually most of the party leaders, ministers and governors.

“The Chief of staff is totally clueless about the APC and its internal politics at best as he was neither part of its formation nor a participant in the primaries, campaign and elections.”

The governor also wrote on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s corruption trial and the frosty relationship between Mr. Buhari and the senate.

He told the president that the federal civil servants across the country were so used to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the PDP way of doing things, so much so that their loyalty was to the opposition party, because of the several years of the PDP’s administration in the country.

“Mr. President, there is a perception that our government has been captured by a shadowy public service/PDP cabal such that we have won elections but the country is still run largely by these elements that are hostile to you and to us all.

“There is a strong perception that your inner circle or kitchen cabinet is incapable, unproductive and sectional. The quality and the undue concentration of key appointments to the North-East and exclusion of South-East are mentioned as evidence of this.

There is a perception that your ministers, some of whom are competent and willing to make real contributions, have no clear mandate, instructions and access to you. Ministers are constitutional creations Mr. President and it is an aberration that they are expected to report to the Chief of Staff on policy matters.

“Mr. President, there is an emerging view in the media that you are neither leading the party nor the administration and those neither elected nor accountable appear to be in charge, and therefore the country is adrift.”

Mr. El-Rufai, a well-known political ally of Mr. Buhari, said bluntly in the memo that the APC administration under Mr. Buhari has failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians who voted the party into power.

“In very blunt terms, Mr. President, our APC administration has not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance outside of our successes in fighting BH insurgency and corruption,” Mr. El-Rufai said, adding that the general feelings among the party supporters today was that the government wasn’t doing well.

On the economic front, Mr. El-Rufai acknowledged that Mr. Buhari inherited a bad situation, but said that the administration, having been in power for more than a year now, could not, therefore, continue to blame the previous administration for the hardship in the country.

“We were elected precisely because Nigerians knew that the previous administration was mismanaging resources and engaged in unprecedented waste and corruption.

“We must, therefore, identify the roots of our enduring economic under-performance as a nation, and present a medium-term national plan and strategy to turn things around.”

Mr. El-Rufai provided the president with detailed and insightful analysis of the nation’s economy and offered suggestions on what could be done to put the nation back on the pathway to prosperity.

For instance, he said that Nigeria was currently producing less electricity than the city of Dubai, and that the power sector reform that was started in 2000, earlier than the reforms in the telecoms sector, was now in serious crisis and nearly at the point of total collapse.

On the state of the transport sector, he told the president, “Inter-state (Federal) roads are generally in a state of disrepair. The national rail system is still the colonial narrow gauge constructed by the British for the extraction of needed raw materials rather than for the encouragement of intra-national trade and connectivity.

“The dual track, standard gauge national railway system initiated by the Obasanjo administration in 2006 has been partly abandoned in favor of piecemeal implementation of sections rather than the integrated programme.

“There is significant potential in the development of inland waterways but there has been no serious effort at seeing the dredging of Rivers Niger and Benue to completion.

“The aviation sector is largely private and mostly insolvent. Virtually all the major airlines are beholden to AMCON, and their services are poor, unreliable and expensive.”

He advised the president to, among other things, appoint for himself a “high profile” economic adviser, as well as set up a two-level economic team – one at a political level to be chaired by the Vice President, and another at a technical level consisting of the heads of key economic agencies “to do the more detailed technical analysis and present options for decision and action”.

Mr. El-Rufai said, “The President must communicate actively and directly with the Nigerian public about his vision – the government’s plans, strategy and roadmap to take the country out of the current, dire economic situation.

“We need a five-year national development strategy and plan urgently.”

The Kaduna state governor said he was inspired to write the memo to the president because of Mr. Buhari’s contribution to his rise in politics and that his political future was tied to the performance of the president.

Mr. El-Rufai described the president as the “only hope” for Nigeria, and urged him to run for re-election in 2019.

“You have to run again in 2019 if your objectives of national restoration, economic progress and social justice are to be attained in the medium and long term.

“You must, therefore, succeed for the good of all of us – individually and collectively, and particularly those of us that have benefitted so clearly from your political ascendance,” Mr. El-Rufai told the president.

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