The Problem With Malam Nasiru Elrufai

Ahmed Nasir el-Rufai

By Anas Lawal

“Our lives begin to end the day we start becoming silent about things that matter” –

Martin Luther King Junior

It is not out of place to argue that, elrufai, in the infamous legion of the non performing governors that most Nigerian governors are, is a wonderfully performing governor, especially in his infrastructural revolution (Under the Urban Renewal project) where he turned Kaduna into a massive construction site constructing, dualizing and rehabilitating roads, bridges and underpass in Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan; revenue generation etc. But as a public servant and employee of the citizens of Kaduna State, that does not immune him from constructive criticisms or being accountable as the position of the late Umaru Musa Yar Aduwa (as the president of Nigeria) did not shield him from the wrath of elrufai’s pen when he wrote him a rejoinder ” Yaraduwa: Great Expectations; poor performance”.

Elrufai, a Man of Humble Beginning!

Elrufai was born in 196O in the small village of Daudawa, in Faskari local government area of Katsina state to late Malam Ahmad Rufai (a retiree agricultural officer with the northern region government from Zaria) and Hajiya Fatima Umma Ibrahim (from Kasarawa, Sokoto) in a polygamous house of 3 wives and 15 children. According to him, he hadt his first set of shoes when he was 6 years old and it was rare for his co villagers to go to the capital, Kaduna, which underscored his humble beginnings as the son of the poor. He attended the Daudawa elementary school before the death of his father, may Allah grant him aljannah, in 1968.

After his father’s death he was adopted by an uncle, late Alhaji Yahaya Hamza in Kawo, Kaduna, and was enrolled into the LEA Kawo Primary School established by Sardauna in 1957. He later proceeded to Barewa College Zaria where he bagged the “Barewa college Old Boys Prize” and proceeded to Alhamdu Bello University, public school established by Sardauna in the early 1962 where he graduated with first class in Quantity Survey (QS) in 1979. According him:

“when I was growing up in Daudawa Katsina state. I was orphaned at the age of 8 but I got free basic education and that is why I am where I am. I intend at whatever price, at whatever cost to bequeath that to the children of the ordinary people in Kaduna state.”(The Cable 16/6/2O2O)

He served at Ogun and went on to become a successful business man with his Elrufai and partners and later served under General Abdussalm Abubakar’s special committee , then appointed by Obasanjo as DG Bureau for public Enterprises (1999-2OO3) and the FCT minister (2OO3-7). He performed well. He worked briefly with Umaru Musa Yar Aduwa in the power sector before their relationship went soar. He also has a law degree from the University of London and also attended Harvard and George Town. As educational enthusiast, I celebrate him for that. Allah Ya K’ara ma Malam ilimi. Educationally, he and his likes such as SLS are source of inspiration to millions of youths in the north including me.

Where Elrufai Keeps Getting It Wrong!

One of his problems is he seems to think that governance, management and leadership is all about high Intelligence qountien (IQ) which, given his biography, he possesses to some extent though not as high as Chris or Einstein. But what he fails to realize is that new studies show that leaders don’t necessarily need high IQ but rather high emotional and social intelligence. Despite his IQ, the pattern of voting showed that he is loosing popularity with the masses for despite the religious campaign he enjoyed in 2O19, he couldn’t beat his opponent, whom I prefer elrufai to, with the million votes he defeated the incumbent in 2O15 which was the first in the history of the state for an incumbent to be defeated.

Emotional intelligence(EQ) is ones ability to self awareness (the ability to understand your weakeness and strength); self management (the ability to work on them and adjust); empathy (reflecting on how your people feel about you policies) and social management. Elrufai lacks self management, for when as the DG BpE, in his memoir “Accidental Public Servant”, he attested that he runs public enterprises as private organizations which are profit motivated, twenty years down the line he is yet to adjust to the reality that public organizations are not run for profit motives but for social orderliness and societal welfare. Theorizing the social contract, Hobbs and Locke argued that with out government societies would be short nasty and brutish, not poor!

Secondly, the man lacks empathy, he does not seems to feel anything bad when he move to execute his harsh policies on Kaduna citizens, if not, how can someone who sacked and fired thousands of public servants, demolished markets and shops, extort his People in the name of tax and fines in this state of poor purchasing power in Nigeria come out to hike school fees by 2OO%? Where is the empathy? Had the government in the 6Os and 7Os did such, would he have been where he is today? Could he have attended the ABU that he finished with that first class? Does he realize the relevance of Small and medium enterprises in an economy which his policies are anathema to and strangulating?

Another problem of Elrufai is his employment of limited styles of leadership. There are six types of leadership styles recognized by scholars which are authoritative, coaching, pace-setting, coercive, democratic and affiliative. Elrufai is using the first four while leaving out the democratic and affilliative which are the best in leading multi-ethinc, mulit-religious and many class societies like Kaduna if their is any sincerity he is taking every body on board, unless he is a ruler, not leader. He seems to be controlling everything alone, Making Kaduna great again should bring every body on board.

This leads us to what I think will not be welcomed by some of my muslim brethren. Nevertheless, I should say it. While Elrufai’s selection of Muslim as his deputy is pacesetting, daring, constitutional and progressive, it is also controversial and insensitive. It defies the unwritten tradition of Kaduna’s inclusive Politics and could set a bad precedence when a Christian in his capacity choose to pick a Christian as running mate, how would the Muslim population feel? The non muslims would always perceived and imagine marginalization especially when you have the Speaker and Chief Justice as muslims again. This further show lack of empathy and the failure to employ the affiliative and democratic styles of leadership.

With due respect to the governor and the father he is to us (may he forgive my childish criticism), graduating with first class in QS alone is not a criteria for leadership, Fareed Zakariya’s thesis succinctly captured how Americans, despite doing bad in international math and science competitions against their Asian counter parts, went on to invent and lead the largest global conglomerates and fortunes such as Google and Facebook. Unless we have working system of government that demands for accountability and puts the public interest first People like elrufai would continue to ride. But he should also understand that while he can fool some of us all of the times, and all of us some of the times; he cannot fool all of us all of the times in Lincoln’s parlance.

In his weird thinking, he thinks that infrastructure is more important than building human development capital. That’s why while he spends billions of naira on roads, bridges, underpass, street lights etc, children still go to school and come back with out teachers, there is still shortage of medical facilities and health practitioners, Kaduna still has dead industries that need to be resuscitated and now he hiked the school fees of Kaduna State University by 2OO%, even ardent capitalist have welfare package( that’s where mix economy works). Agriculture is the largest employer of labour in Kaduna, as said in KADINVEST 5.O, he should be thinking of modernizing and mechanizing it.

Elrufai, as Dare Babarinsa, would say of Garba Shehu, needs more education to lead than a first class in QS. He should try as the book worm he is to read and digest Al Maghili’s “obligation of princes”, Muhammad Bello’s “Usul Assiyasat”, Abdullahi Fodio’s “Diya’ul Hukkam”, Al Mawaridi’s “Ahkamussul D’aniyya” Ahmadu Bello’s “My Life”, Paden’s “Ahmadu Bello and the values of leadership in Nigeria” Daniel Goleman’s “Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence”, “Emotional Intelligence: why it matters more than IQ”, and “Social Intelligence”, after all, it seems his going to John F. Kennedy School of Government does not pays much for his sadist Capitalism, as Robert Green would say, does not have human face!

He should understand that, he too, in Malcolm Gladwell’s language, is an outleir. He had the state presented him with opportunities to become who he is today in the 7Os and 8Os, thanks to the legacies of what sir Ahmadu Bello and other good Nigerians bequeathed to his generation. No matter how genuies he think he is, with out those opportunities and legacies he would have been a glorified secondary school leaver. The least he can do is “ya mayar da biki shima”, he and his generation have it all for free, yet after bastardizing the institutions they are making it hard for us to have what is left. Though now in charge of LEA Kawo and Barewa college can he dare send his children to those schools randomly (with out any prior preparation) as he was sent then?

He said education is the only thing that can make the son of nobody to become somebody which I agree with him (he is a case study). With this exorbitant fees how sincere is he in making the son of nobody to become somebody? Some body should remind him that Kaduna has already become the safe haven of violent criminals due to illiteracy, unemployment and poverty and his policies, rather than helping matters, are fueling it. He should know that injustice breeds chaos. He is creating a dangerous Frankenstein that may consume us all. His advisers should remember what Sir Ahamdu Bello once said “The greatest weapon is truth” and tell him the truth. Lastly, he should be reminded of what Sheikh Usman Fodio once said:

“A state can endure with unbelief, but cannot endure with injustice”

Sheikh Usman Fodio

-Anas Lawal

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