BY NASIRU JAGABA
In recent times, social media has been awash with vitriolic attacks against the elders of Southern Kaduna. These elders stand accused of fostering hatred and antagonism towards the former governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai. As one sifts through the deluge of articles regarding this issue, one has to wonder what the orchestrators of this smear campaign hope to achieve, and why they have chosen to act now, after el-Rufai’s tenure.
For the sake of clarity, it is important to understand that the people of Southern Kaduna have always been peaceful, law-abiding, dedicated, and hard-working. Despite enduring systemic marginalisation and neglect, they have consistently remained supportive and law-abiding citizens. However, the recent campaign against their elders isn’t just baseless, but also appears to be instigated. If left unchecked, these false narratives could spread and potentially be mistaken for the truth.
In a delightful twist of irony, this campaign against our leaders emerged shortly after the former Kaduna State governor delivered a keynote address at the book launch and retirement event in honour of Professor Ishaq Akintola, the founder of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and an erratic and confused fanatic stocking the embers of division and disharmony with many destructive and senseless press releases. In his address, el-Rufai reportedly stated that elders from the southern part of the state humiliated his deputies, who hailed from the same region. He then painted a narrative of himself as a victim. It’s intriguing to note that this narrative conveniently emerged at an event where MURIC honored him with an award as Defender of the Faith.
If there’s any party that could justifiably accuse another of fostering hatred and antagonism, it would be the people of Southern Kaduna and not the governor. They survived the tumultuous eight-year tenure of el-Rufai under whose watch their communities were decimated and thousands of their people killed. Yet, despite remaining silent and allowing posterity to judge the former governor’s actions, he seems intent on rewriting the narrative that portrays the Southern Kaduna people in a negative light.
It is interesting to note that despite the 7th Senate’s pronouncement that el-Rufai was unfit for public office; the people of Southern Kaduna extended nothing but love and support towards him during his 2014 campaign. It’s almost comedy that el-Rufai now feels justified to accuse the Southern Kaduna elders of hatred and antagonism towards him. In 2015, the people of Southern Kaduna broke a longstanding tradition of supporting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to cast their votes for him. Without their support, his governorship ambition would have remained a pipe dream.
The tenure of the former governor was characterised by deception and neglect, particularly in the manner he handled the security situation in Southern Kaduna. It’s almost farcical that his solution to the 2016 security threats was to visit the terrorists and give them money, supposedly to persuade them to stop their attacks. Instead, the attacks worsened, as if he had inadvertently empowered them for more attacks. Moreover, his response to the cries of the people was to offer excuses for the terrorists, rather than sympathise with the victims.
In terms of projects, the lion’s share of the over $350 million (N270 billion) World Bank loan that the former governor secured for Kaduna State was spent mostly on Muslim-dominated areas, with less than N5 billion allocated to the 12 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Southern Kaduna. Even within these LGAs, the few projects he initiated were centered in Muslim-majority areas, leaving the Christian-populated areas in complete neglect and abandonment.
The governor’s appointments to public offices were also a source of contention. During his tenure, the entire top management positions of the Kaduna State University (KASU) were Muslims, and mostly non-Southern Kaduna. This blatant disregard for diversity was almost comical, if not for the stark reality of its implications. The list of top positions within the university, from the Vice Chancellor down to departmental directors, was dominated by Muslims. The staff recruitment ratio, student admission ratio, student union government leaders, and class representative leaders all tilted heavily towards Muslims. In fact, there were six mosques within the university, but not a single Christian chapel.
Below are top management positions of KASU that was a product of the el-Rufai years as governor of the state:
Vice Chancellor – Muslim
Deputy VC Admin. – Muslim
Deputy VC Academic – Muslim
Registrar – Muslim
Bursar – Muslim
University Librarian – Muslim
Chief Security Officer – Muslim
Dir. Academy Planning – Muslim
DIr. Physical Planning – Muslim
Dean Student Affairs – Muslim
Director ICT- Muslim
Pro Chancellor – Muslim
Dir. University Advancement – Muslim
Number of Mosques: = 6
Number of Christian Chapel: = 0
Staff Recruitment Ratio:
Muslims = 70%
Christians = 30%
Student Admission Ratio:
Christians = 25%
Student Union Government Leaders
Muslims = 94%
Class Reps. Leaders
Muslims = 97%
Christians = 03%
With such a track record, it’s almost amusing that el-Rufai has the audacity to accuse the Southern Kaduna elders of being hateful and antagonistic. It is clear that if anyone has a right to feel antagonised or hated, it is the people of Southern Kaduna, not the former governor who exit made Kaduna citizens to heave a sigh of relief.
It’s a tragic -comedy that el-Rufai, a man whose recklessness with words is well-documented, is now trying to paint himself as the victim. The irony is that his attempts to rewrite his legacy are being aided by those who should be working towards unity and peace in the aftermath of his divisive reign.
Ultimately, the former governor’s attempts to regain relevance are doomed to fail. His past actions against the people of Southern Kaduna can’t be easily forgotten. No amount of linguistic gymnastics or social media campaigns, including sponsored articles, can alter the fact that he is now reaping the consequences of his actions. Indeed, one might call it poetic justice.
In the grand theatre of political rhetoric, his attempts to cast himself as the victim are nothing short of a farcical pantomime. He seems to be peddling a narrative that paints him as a misunderstood leader, grievously wronged by the same people he evidently shortchanged and marginalised.
And yet, the evidence of his misdeeds is as clear as daylight. The disproportionate allocation of resources and projects, the blatant favoritism in the university appointments, and his apathetic response to the security threats faced by the people of Southern Kaduna are all stark reminders of his leadership deficits anchored on religious and ethnic discrimination.
In a twist worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, el-Rufai seems to have forgotten the old adage, “What goes around, comes around”. His administration’s blatant bias against the Southern Kaduna people is akin to sowing seeds of discord and neglect. Now, as he faces the harvest of rising public discontent and criticism, he seeks to deflect blame and paint himself as the victim.
But the people of Southern Kaduna are neither fooled nor swayed by these attempts. Their resilience and unity in the face of adversity are a testament to their strength and character. The former governor’s attempts at revisionist history are desperate bids to salvage a tarnished reputation at the expense of Southern Kaduna people.
The irony is that, while he attempts to smear the reputation of Southern Kaduna elders, he only succeeds in further tarnishing his own battered reputation. His actions have revealed his true character, and no amount of deflection or blame shifting can change that. The people of Southern Kaduna, and indeed, the rest of the world, are not blind to this reality.
In conclusion, the former governor’s attempts to reframe his legacy are akin to trying to paint a crumbling mansion in bright colors – it may look different from afar, but up close, the cracks are still visible. The people of Southern Kaduna, and Nigerians at large, see his actions for what they are – a desperate attempt to rewrite history and salvage his tarnished image.
However, as the saying goes, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. No matter how hard he tries, the truth of el-Rufai’s legacy of injustice is very clear for all to see.
Jagaba is the former National Youth Leader of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU).