…El-Rufai reveals Alhassan never a ‘Buharist’
Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state has said that governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and many ministers want President Muhammadu Buhari to seek reelection in 2019.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a close-door meeting with the President in Abuja on Friday, El-Rufa’i said the governors and ministers working for the 2019 election operate on platform called the “Buharist Group.”
The governor also dismissed remarks in some quarters that he was being groomed to replace the President in 2019, saying that as a member of the “Buharist group,” he has no presidential ambition.
“My name has continuously been mentioned as a Presidential aspirant since 2007 after my years in the FCT, there is nothing new about that. What I want to say here very, very clearly is that I have never been a Presidential aspirant, I have never even been a gubernatorial aspirant.
“I am governor today by the grace of God because President Buhari called me and said go and run for Governor of Kaduna state. As far as 2019 is concerned, my position is the President (Muhammadu Buhari) is looking very well, he is recuperating very fast. My hope and prayer is he will contest in 2019.
“Everything that our group is doing; and we have a group. We have a Buharist amongst governors, ministers. Our group wants to ensure that President Buhari runs in 2019. If he chooses not to run he will tell us which direction to go,” he said.
The Kaduna state governor also disclosed that the open declaration of support for the 2019 presidential ambition of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar by the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, was not surprising to those who know her antecedents adding that the minister has never been a supporter of the President.
He said the minister was never in the President’s camp during the primaries and has never supported his ideology.
He said her appointment as a cabinet minister was done unilaterally by the President against the wish of his if allies and party members.
He said: “The Minister of Women Affairs Jummai Alhassan has been known to me since university days and she was active in the Student Union. In the APC she was never in the Buhari camp, she did not support our candidate during the National Convention, she didn’t vote for Buhari during the Primaries.
“But out of largeness of the President’s heart and to encourage women in politics, he felt that even though she was never a supporter of his politics or his believes and ideologies, and because of what she has tried to do in Taraba, he felt she earned being nominated as a minister.
“Many in Buhari camp did not support it but he overruled everybody because that is how he is, he tries to be inclusive, he considers every Nigerian his own son or daughter and he nominated her to be minister.
“Her comments are not surprising, she has never been a supporter, she has never believed in Buhari ideology. So, I am not surprised and as a Nigerian, as an individual she has every right to express her views and support whoever she wants.
“But what I am saying is Nigerians should not be surprised or shocked. This has always been her position because from time she has never supported Buharism or what Buhari stands for. Being part of Buhari government is a different thing because government sets policies and if you are a minister you execute the policies. You can execute those policies while pursuing a different brand of politics. And it is okay there is no problem with that.”
On whether the minister should be retained in the face of her recent comments, El-Rufai said such decision is the President’s prerogative. “You can retain a person in the cabinet even if he doesn’t support you, if he adds value to the country because this is a government. It is not a political grouping that we are fighting for or some political progress.
“If Jummai Alhassan is performing as Minister of Women Afairs and adding value to the government and the people of Nigeria, is the President’s prerogative to retain her in spite of her political views.
“But if she is not adding value in spite of her political views she can be dispensed with, that is the president’s decision. I don’t think people should get worried about it.
“I have worked closely with the President, I know him and I know how he thinks. He doesn’t take these things personally or to heart. What is primary to him is Nigeria’s progress and how well the government is doing and what everyone is contributing, that is what matters ultimately.”
On restructuring, the governor said the committee set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) would commence tour of the country on September 18 to gather views of the public.