Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State delivered a note to politicians in Lagos on how they can put an end to the politics of ‘godfatherism’ in the state.
Details: El-Rufai spoke at an event organized by the Bridge Club in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Saturday. It is unclear if his speech was an attack on his political ally, Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos governor who is by and large in control of the state’s political structures. El-rufai’s formula was simply for politicians to pursue direct connections with the electorates.
He gave an anecdote from his experience in Kaduna where he has just been re-elected Governor for a second term: “There were three or four politicians in Kaduna that you could not become anything unless you had them on your side. Those were the godfathers of Kaduna politics and you had to carry them along…mean paying them regularly…. But we chose a different path and the long and short of it now is that after this election in 2019, we have retired all of them; we had to.” In addition, he explained that most godfathers thrive on perception and do not account for much in reality: “They are defeatable. We retired four of them in Kaduna state within a four-year time and they are gone. One of them boasted that he put me in the government house and he would take me out.”
Specific tips on how to defeat the godfather in Lagos:
- “Here in Lagos, you have over six million registered voters, only about a million voted (in 2019 general elections); five million did not vote…
- “I will commission a study to know why those five million registered voters did not vote; where do they go on election day? Then I will start visiting them for the next four years. I will try and get just two million of them to come and vote for me; I will defeat any godfather.
- “The key is to go to the people. The card readers and the biometric registers have given us the tools to connect directly with the people.
- “I assure you if you do that for the next four years, connecting with the people; the tin godfather, you will retire him or her permanently. But it is hard work; it requires three to four years of hard work. So, if you want to run in 2023, you should start now.
El-rufai’s blindside: El-rufai’s veiled condemnation of ‘godfatherism’ caught the attention of his arch rival, Senator Shehu Sani who sent out a subliminal counter message via Twitter, labeling Governor El-rufai as the beneficiary of a godfather (most likely referring to President Buhari) and suggesting that he lacks the legitimacy to broach the matter.
There is more to it: El-rufai’s Lagos speech appears to be in connection with the early permutations for the 2023 Presidency. In the speech, he clamored that President Buhari should deal with those harboring 2023 ambitions in the APC.
“It is my view that President Muhammadu Buhari must be firm and decisive in dealing with these overambitious elements that will make his second term difficult from day one unless curtailed. The President has to be very decisive in dealing with such people,” he said.
There are several indicators that Tinubu is posturing for the 2023 presidency. El-rufai has some interest in this race as well but it is unclear at the moment. But his statement targeting Tinubu is not so far-fetched.
Furthermore, an ethnic solidarity group has responded to El-rufai labeling him as “being too overzealous for power”. The group insisted that the godfather that controls Lagos is of a ‘progressive’ stock.