El-Rufai To Reject Ministerial Nomination Even If Cleared By Senate, The Gazette


Nasir El-Rufai seems almost certain to withdraw from President Bola Tinubu’s federal executive council, even if he ultimately receives security clearance for his ministerial confirmation. The Peoples Gazette has been informed by two sources familiar with the matter.

According to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the former Kaduna governor expressed strong displeasure at the delay in his senatorial endorsement.

This delay seemed to cast doubt on his security status as a prominent Nigerian politician. They shared insights from a recent meeting with El-Rufai, the ministerial nominee, with The Gazette.

Our investigation reveals that Mr. El-Rufai has not made his intention to decline the ministerial nomination public. He believes that the Senate will eventually receive approval from the national security establishment, leading to his confirmation.

He plans to wait until his confirmation before announcing his decision not to serve in the cabinet. This approach is aimed at avoiding any unexpected developments that might force his hand before his confirmation.

This action could make him the first to resign from a ministerial appointment between Senate confirmation and inauguration.

Sources indicate that Mr. El-Rufai has chosen this strategy to demonstrate to the Nigerian public that there are no justifiable reasons for his security assessment to be held up. He wishes to show that there is no valid cause, presumably by National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu, to prevent him from serving as a minister.

On Monday, Mr. El-Rufai was one of three politicians whose confirmations were delayed by the Senate. President Tinubu had nominated a total of 48 individuals for ministerial positions, with 45 receiving clearance and being assigned portfolios. Senate President Godswill Akpabio did not reveal the reasons behind the Senate’s decision to reject the three nominees.

While the grounds for withholding confirmation for the other two nominees, Abubakar Danladi of Taraba and Stella Okotete of Delta, were not explicitly stated by Mr. Akpabio, they were publicly documented. In contrast, Mr. El-Rufai’s situation has been mired in intense speculation, which has proven difficult for his supporters to dispel. Some opponents claim the hold is due to his handling of ethnic and sectarian conflicts during his tenure as a two-term governor. Others suggest allegations of corruption and betrayal of allies as reasons.

Despite strong urging from close and influential friends, Mr. El-Rufai has decided against meeting Nuhu Ribadu to resolve any outstanding issues. “His Excellency Nasir El-Rufai is a man of conviction, and he has made it clear that he won’t be meeting Nuhu Ribadu to lobby him for security clearance,” one source stated. “In fact, he was supposed to be in Abuja on Wednesday for a meeting with the NSA, but he vigorously turned it down.”

Sahara Reporters first reported Mr. Ribadu’s involvement in the last-minute intervention by the NSA in the ministerial nomination process. Sources indicate that Mr. El-Rufai believes that Mr. Ribadu lacks the necessary political stature to unilaterally withhold a ministerial nomination.

Before their Senate appearances, Mr. El-Rufai and other nominees were previously cleared by the State Security Service. They underwent more than a week of screening. However, it remains unclear how Mr. Ribadu successfully raised objections to the imminent confirmation of Mr. El-Rufai and two others.

“The actions of Nuhu Ribadu are unlikely to occur without the president’s prior knowledge,” the source stated, echoing Mr. El-Rufai’s perspective. “This is why he will wait until his confirmation before withdrawing from the cabinet.”

Mr. El-Rufai did not respond to The Gazette’s request for comment on his conversations with friends, although he did not oppose the publication of this story.

Mr. Ribadu’s specific concerns regarding Mr. El-Rufai have not been confirmed by The Gazette. Mr. Ribadu did not respond to a request for comment regarding his involvement on Tuesday night. A presidential spokesperson was unavailable for comment on Wednesday morning.

Mr. El-Rufai, a career civil engineer, served in various capacities under President Olusegun Obasanjo from the early to mid-2000s. This included a four-year term as the Abuja minister from 2003 to 2007. He later left the ruling Peoples Democratic Party amid a tense political climate and joined opposition elements that eventually formed the current ruling All Progressives Congress.

He served as the governor of Kaduna from May 2015 to May of this year, completing two terms. His outspokenness in public discussions has often been used against him by his political opponents. However, he has seldom apologized for his views, which ranged from challenging a sitting president through populist advocacy to advocating for the execution of foreigners who interfere in Nigerian affairs on national television.

“One of his allies emphasized to The Gazette that being a minister holds no novelty for him anymore, as he has held the position before. Therefore, he intends to decline the position after receiving security clearance.”

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