Uncertainty for El-Rufai’s Loyalists in Kaduna Government Cabinet

by Ohepo Ohepo

There are signs that the future of some of the political officeholders who served in Nasir El-Rufai’s administration and are currently serving in Governor Uba Sani’s cabinet is uncertain in light of the reactions that followed the governor of Kaduna State’s remark about the debt that was inherited from El-Rufai’s previous administration.

A rift has already developed inside the ruling party, especially among the supporters of the two leaders. As a result, Maryam Suleiman Mai Rusau, the party’s State Women Leader, was suspended after publicly criticizing the governor and endorsing the former governor.

The governor’s debt speech, according to sources who spoke to Daily Trust, was the last straw in the carefully tended to divide between the two political allies. Many of them claimed the governor was deeply unhappy with the state’s financial status since assuming office. All they’ve been doing is attempting to keep things under control. According to one of the sources, the crack had existed for the previous three to four months.

The majority of El-Rufai’s former political appointees in the new administration, according to Daily Trust, have not shared their opinions on the debt issue, with analysts characterizing their current predicament as being “caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Attempts to communicate with them have likewise proven fruitless; a reliable source discloses that they have decided not to comment publicly on the development.

Deputy Governor Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, who was also deputy governor during El-Rufai’s final term in office, and Umma K. Ahmed, the current commissioner of health, were among the appointees who worked under El-Rufai and are currently in Uba Sani’s cabinet. El-Rufai also appointed Ahmed as commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs.

Others include Dr. Shehu Usman Muhammad, who served as the previous administration’s Commissioner of Education and is currently Governor Sani’s counselor on political matters. Similarly, the newly appointed Administrator of Kaduna Capital Territory Administration and supervising Commissioner for the Ministry of Internal Security is Samuel Aruwan, the immediate former Commissioner of Internal Security.

Now serving as Commissioner of Housing and Urban Development is Dr. Abdullahi Aminu Shagali, who served as Speaker of the Kaduna House of Assembly during El-Rufai’s administration and as the government’s most recent Political Adviser.

Joining the El Rufai administration in 2015, Malam Murtala Mohammad Dabo has held a number of positions, including Chairman of the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, and Commissioner of the Ministry of Agriculture under Uba Sani’s administration. Another former commissioner under El Rufai, Mohammad Sada Jalal, was named Director-General of the Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS).

El-Rufai’s supporters in the current administration are thought to be under suspicion due to the political friction that has arisen since the state governor’s remark about debt and the suspension of the party’s female leader. Pundits claimed that other party women leaders have been silent, at least outwardly, out of fear for the unknown, with the exception of the leader who spoke her opinion on the matter by publicly defending the former governor.

All of the prior governor’s appointees in the present cabinet have a difficult task ahead of them: demonstrating their allegiance to the governor, according to a serving adviser to Governor Sani, who begged to be anonymous while discussing the circumstances.

He stated, “The issue is about proving their loyalty; they just have to do it, just like the former governor’s son (Bello) did by openly endorsing Governor Uba Sani.”

Gov. Sani embraces the political “foes” of the former governor

State observers claim that the acceptance of some politicians who were thought to be at odds with El-Rufai’s camp, particularly those from the northern and southern regions of the state, was one of the factors cited for the tense relationship between the previous government and Governor Sani’s.

One of these lawmakers is Dr. Dan Fulani, a well-known critic of El-Rufai’s administration from southern Kaduna who was recently named as one of Governor Sani’s senior advisers. Sama’ila Suleiman, a former member of the House of Representatives representing Kaduna North, also broke with El-Rufai, which resulted in El-Rufai’s son taking his position in the 2023 elections. Since then, Suleiman has been designated as the governor’s advisor.

Others considered to be a part of Governor Sani’s consolidation efforts include Sadiq Mamman Lagos, the current commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, as well as opposition figures like Yakubu Lere, the former executive director of Kaduna Media Corporation (KSMC), and Ramalan Yero, the former governor of the state, who also defected from the PDP to join the ruling party.

Former APC assistant legal adviser in the state Mohammed Ibrahim Zaria voiced worries regarding the timing of Governor Sani’s remarks, speculating that something must have spurred him to speak out after almost 10 months.

He responded, “Let me tell you the basic truth: their relationship has gone sour since last year, August 2023,” when asked if Governor Sani’s recent remarks will have any additional impact on their relationship with El-Rufai. He stated, “It wasn’t out yet, but it was brewing; perhaps it’s reached the pinnacle to reveal the truth now.”

He claimed that the perception was that Governor Uba was altering what he saw on the ground, which ran counter to El-Rufai’s endorsement of him for the governorship.

An other advisor to Governor Sani—who wishes to remain anonymous—attributed the origin of the issue to the concerning debt load that the current administration inherited. He pointed out that their connection might have been further strained by attacks from people connected to the former governor’s camp, such as his son and the state’s head of the women’s organization.

Along with stressing their willingness to support Governor Sani’s administration, he also pointed out that the state women’s leader’s suspension for making derogatory words against the governor served as a warning to others who dared to oppose the governor.

Nonetheless, a former El-Rufai cabinet member who wishes to remain anonymous called Governor Sani and the former governor close friends.

The source was disappointed that Governor Sani chose to publicly expose their complaints rather than personally requesting clarity.

“Consequently, I anticipated that instead of going public with the issue, he (Uba) could ask the former governor for clarification if there was anything he (Uba) didn’t understand about the state,” the former commissioner stated.

On the trust of the appointees in the government, he added, “I’m sure some of them will start thinking about the next move to take, either to leave or remain.”

“One should have complete loyalty to the current governor.”

Abubakar Ahmed, a political analyst in the state, asserted that a public servant’s allegiance should be to the current administration.

“Therefore, those who feel they cannot be loyal to the government because their loyalty remains with the last administration under El’Rufai, the honorable thing to do is just to throw in the towel and move on,” he said. “Those appointed by the current governor must show the governor that their loyalty is with him 100 percent.”

Abubakar went on to say that the appointees should not be afraid because even El’Rufai, their former boss, should know that governor appointees are expected to be completely devoted to the administration; as such, they shouldn’t anticipate anything less from the appointees of this government.

The deputy governor in particular, according to another political expert Haruna Ibrahim Nasarawa, may have challenges despite the two leaders’ long-standing political connection.

“These individuals will encounter a challenging circumstance as they must reveal their allegiances to the governor, failing which they will not relish their tenure in the administration,” he stated.


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