Who becomes El Rufai’s Political Adviser?
By Ibraheem Musa
In 2015, Nigerians were tired of PDP and overwhelmingly, they voted for change by rejecting the status quo almost across board. On May 29, President Muhammadu Buhari, several state governors and Malam Nasir El Rufai were sworn into office amidst pomp and pageantry. Before then, expectations were very high and the electorate was eager for dividends of democracy. In fact, before the handover date, the new helmsmen were advised to hit the ground running when they assume office. In retrospect, El Rufai had started running even before hitting the ground four years ago. Specifically, he made several key appointments a few days before becoming the Executive Governor of Kaduna state. On May 27, 2015, he had appointed five principal officers, two days before he was sworn in.
In particular, Alhaji Balarabe Lawal Abbas, a seasoned administrator and a former lecturer at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria(ASCON), was appointed as the Secretary to the State Government. Similarly, the names of Dr Salisu Suleiman and Mr Abu Sheyin were announced Principal Private Secretaries of El Rufai and his deputy, Arch Barnabas Bala Bantex respectively. In addition, Hon Bala Yunusa was made deputy Chief of Staff while Mr Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna Bureau Chief of Blueprint newspaper, became the Governor’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity four years ago.
Similarly, in this dispensation, Kaduna was about the first state to make appointments in Nigeria. On June 1, 2019, three days after swearing in, El Rufai reappointed Aruwan as his spokesman and retained several key assistants. Likewise, SSG Balarabe Abbas Lawal, PPS Salisu Suleiman and Senior Adviser-Counsellor Jimi Lawal, have all staged a comeback . In addition, the governor announced eight Special Advisers on June 14, three of which were reappointed to their previous positions. Specifically, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye retains his Media and Communications portfolio, so has Hajiya Aisha Dikko and Mr Martins Akumazi, the Legal Adviser and Special Adviser on Project Implementation respectively. However, the position of Political Adviser is still vacant and several gladiators are jostling for the post. Right now, a few names have been making the rounds but the governor is still taking his time.
Largely, politicians from the southern and central senatorial districts, according to reports, populate the list of potential Political Adviser. In particular, there is Mr Ben Dalhatu Kure, the Executive Secretary of SEMA, Senator Caleb Zagi and Arch Muhammad Sanusi Maikudi, current GM of Water board and Alhaji Saeed Adamu, former member of Federal Character Commission from the southern senatorial district. Likewise, Kaduna central boasts of five aspirants and they include Alhaji Lawal Samaila Yakawada, former SSG and immediate past Counsellor on Political matters. Similarly, Hon Hussaini Muhammad Jallo, ex Executive Secretary of PDTF, is said to be eyeing the position. In addition, Engr Namadi Muhammad Musa, DG of Interfaith Council is waiting in the wings. Also, Alhaji Abdullahi Garba Abbas, former Interim Chairman of Giwa local government, is coveting the post. Likewise, Sarduanan Badarawa and ex Kaduna North Council Chairman, Hon Usman Ibrahim, is jostling to become the next Political Adviser. So far, neither the governor nor his key aides have shown preference for any candidate. However, El Rufai is consulting widely and sifting through a long list before making a credible choice.
Indeed, the position is as sensitive as it is multidimensional because a versatile Political Adviser should combine several qualities. First and foremost, he must be the governor’s confidant, someone whose judgement El Rufai should trust completely. In this regard, the candidate must be grounded in politics, governance and socio-cultural nuances of Kaduna state. More so, he ought to have rudimentary knowledge of the civil service. Likewise, he should be the link between the governor and the political party, as well as other stakeholders, including religious groups, tribal associations and Non Governmental Organisations. In addition, his interpersonal relationship across ethnic groups, different religions and the diverse political landscape ought to be impeccable. Furthermore, he should have practical political experience, especially in electoral matters, party administration and managing disparate persuasions.
In my view, Ben Kure and Engr Namadi Musa tower above the crowd of potential Political Advisers. In 2015 and 2019, Kure led the Kaduna APC Campaign Council to victory, as Director General of team. Similarly, he has given SEMA a new lease of life, from just an interventionist relief agency to a proactive agency that nips emergencies in the bud. In addition, he is as cosmopolitan as they come and he is comfortable in his own skin. Kure, a banker-turn politician, has very few baggage and in Kaduna state, he is seem as the face of new breed politics. However, for the most part, his political tentacles and sphere of influence are localised, especially among Southern Kaduna and the state capital. In short, Kure is not a grassroots politician, even though he has been Interim Chairman of Jaba Local Government.
In contrast, Namadi Musa’s political pedigree dates back to over 20 years ago. In 1998, he contested and won a state assembly seat on the platform of DPN, one of Abacha’s political parties. However, the legislature was not inaugurated as Abacha’s death truncated the transition programme. In 1999, Namadi had contested and lost the chairmanship Kaduna North Local Government Council. Afterwards, he was appointed Executive Director of KDSPDC by the Makarfi administration. In 2003, three years later, he became the Sole Administrator of Kawo Development Area. In 2007, he led Arch Namadi Sambo to victory as the Organising Secretary of his gubernatorial campaign team. Similarly, he was a Director in the APC Campaign Council in 2015, a formidable team that brought El Rufai to power. Afterwards, the governor appointed him the Director General of Interfaith Council. Last election, he led the Senator Uba Sani campaign team to a landslide victory. Furthermore, his office played a vital role in dousing the tension, in the last campaign, arising from the Muslim-Muslim gubernatorial ticket.
In addition, Namadi’s relates seamlessly with civil servants, having worked and risen to a Director at Kaduna State Agricultural Development Project in 1997. Likewise, he is at home with professionals of every hue as a qualified Engineer himself. Similarly, he is a bridge-builder as his political network spans across APC, the opposition and the ulama as well as the clergy. No doubt, Engr Namadi Musa will build on the achievements of Senator Uba Sani, the immediate past Political Adviser and add value to the APC-led government of Malam Nasir El Rufai, if appointed to the position.
Musa writes from Kaduna