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Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai has said that some powerful forces in the Presidency were after him.
El-Rufai made the claim while dismissing insinuations that he has fallen apart with President Muhammadu Buhari over the contentious letter he wrote to him on perceived irregularities in his government.
The governor on Friday joined President Buhari to observe the Jumat prayers at the Presidential Villa.
El-Rufai, however, confirmed that he actually wrote the President a memo to express his displeasure over the way the President was handling the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) affairs and the country at large.
He revealed that some powerful forces within the Presidency leaked the memo just to discredit him and pitch him against the President whom he has enjoyed close relationship over the years.
According to el-Rufai who spoke to State House Correspondents after the prayer session, Nigeria was going haywire on account of Buhari’s leadership style, particularly the situation where several heads of government parastatals were still being occupied by appointees of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan several months after the PDP government had been ousted.
The Kaduna governor said he felt he needed to convey to the President some of the grouse being raised by party members, adding that there was no ill motive behind the content of the letter.
He also debunked insinuations that he had been shut out of the Presidential Villa by some forces over his political ambition for 2019.
He said nobody could stop him from coming to the Villa to see the President, neither can anyone pitch him against the President with whom he enjoys father and son relationship.
His words: “No, no one ever stopped me from coming to the villa and no one can stop me from coming to villa. As a governor I come here, I have a blank cheque, no one checks me at the gate, but I believe what the President needs is for those that love him to keep away from him and allow him to rest.
“The President needs quality time to rest because it is meeting too many people that strains leadership. I am a governor and I know that when I meet 10 people in a day I get really tired, it is not the paperwork, it is not really the memos approving them or asking questions that strains a leader, it is the stream of visitors. I do not want to contribute to the President’s problem by coming here every day.
“I am in touch with him, I know everything going on and I do not think I should add to his burden. Most of the time I come to visit the President I do not come to the office, I go to see him at home. I think and I appeal to all of us that love the President to please allow him some space so that he will recover. We need him and the country needs him, it is in our interest for the stability of the country, we should just let him be.
“It is absolutely necessary, let us leave him to do his work in the privacy of his room or his office without strings of visitors. Visitors stress leaders”.
In the memo, dated September 22, 2016, which went viral recently, el-Rufai had suggested that a surgical operation be carried on the entire gamut of government, to avoid the APC government leaving Nigeria worse than it met it.
He had alleged in the memo that Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal were those behind the evil plot of misleading the government.
“It was a private memo and it is not a letter. If you want to ask any question about it, you ask those who leaked the memo because I wrote it seven months ago.
“I have written similar memos to the President in the past and none of them got leaked. He knows that he can count on me to give him my views of what is out there that he may not hear and to give him sound advice without any interest on my part. If anyone reads that memo he will see that there is nothing in the memo that has
anything to do other than the success of Mr President and progress of the country. That is my goal, my motive and I am driven by that. I stand behind the President to the very end,” el-rufai said.
Asked how he felt about the leakage of the document despite the secrecy of oath of office, he said he felt disappointed.
“I am disappointed that a private communication to the highest office in the land can be leaked and it was leaked from the villa.
“I am told by those that published it, but this is a fact of life. We live in an age where anything you write or say can be leaked. It is ok, my intentions are clear, I have no ill motive but I wanted to communicate with the President what many Nigerians are talking about and what steps can be taken to improve governance of the country and move the country forward. That was my motive and if tomorrow, like I said, I see anything that the President needs to know I will discuss with him and I will articulate and put it into writing and on the record for him to have a reminder document to work on. I have no regrets and I have no apologies,” he said.
The Governor, however, expressed the belief that his views in the memo must have jolted the President to action, a development that has necessitated changes in key parastatals of government over the week.
He said prior to when the memo was written, the Federal Government had been lackadaisical in his capital budget releases and implementation of social empowerment policies like the N-Power programme.
He said, “Yes, I believe that since September last year when I wrote the letter, there has been significant improvement in the delivery of services at the Federal level, as I said some of our federal programmes have started in earnest. Social protection for instance, the N-Power, budget releases have been accelerated, this is an unprecedented move.
“The Minister of Finance has released up to about a trillion naira of capital budget. In September last year, little or nothing had been released and that was part of my concern, Since then the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan has been done and published.
“At the time I wrote the memo there was no five year plan for the country, since then the government has moved ahead to change some of the appointees of President Jonathan in parastatals. This is something that we were worried about, many of us in APC felt that we were in office but not in power because the people that Jonathan appointed were still running most of our key agencies. From September till date even up until yesterday there have been significant improvement. I believe that part of what I recommended to the President is being implemented, whether because of my memo or not is being implemented the country is moving forward and I am grateful to God for it”.
On his frosty relationship with the National Assembly, particularly the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, el-Rufai said he had no grievances with the National Assembly, rather he requested them to fulfill a pledge which they had made earlier to publish details of their budget and expenditure.
He argued that he was only exercising his fundamental right as a Nigerian citizen and wondered why his request is being misconstrued by the lawmakers.
“There is nothing like falling out with the National Assembly, first of all I am a State Governor and do not have any direct relationship with the National Assembly. They don’t legislate for me specifically. I don’t have any relationship that is negative or positive with the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly is the legislature of the federation and we have very good relations with the legislators. There are Senators from my state and there are representatives and I meet regularly with those of them that are ready to meet with me. Here beside me are Senators Abu Ibrahim and Marafa. If I have problem with
the National Assembly they will not be standing beside me, so there is no problem.
“The issue is what I did last Friday was to ask the leadership of the National Assembly to fulfil the promise that they made themselves to publish the details of their budget and asking for that is my duty as a citizen. Every Nigerian is entitled to ask that question.
“It is in the National Assembly’s interest to actually publish it because there are rumours of bogus amounts of money that they are getting which I do not believe is true. I think that the best way to kill that rumour is to publish the details of their budget but some people took exception to that call for transparency and I have no
apologies because as citizens we have the right to demand for transparency for how resources are being spent.
“This one hundred billion or so budget of the National Assembly is money belonging to the people of Nigeria and every Nigerian has the right to ask and I am exercising that right as a citizen not even as a governor. I have no problem with the Speaker, he is my kid brother, he respects me and I respect him, I have no problem with the Senate President we worked together in the past and I am confident that we will work together in the future in the interest of Nigeria, but demand for accountability is not a problem and should not be construed to be undermining or any such thing. It is only someone who has something to hide that will do things like that and I don’t believe that the National Assembly have things to hide”.
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