President-elect Bola Tinubu’s envisioned collaboration with former Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for a ministerial role has fallen apart.
El-Rufai had been positioned to lead the prospective Ministry of Power and Gas, a result of extensive discussions with Tinubu aimed at ensuring a consistent power supply for the nation.
Despite initially expressing his desire to step away from public life after the presidential campaign, El-Rufai reconsidered his decision following “intensive discussions with the President” after the election.
Stressing the significance of gas in achieving reliable power, he proposed the amalgamation of gas-related matters with the power ministry.
A confidential source, speaking to Punch, disclosed that El-Rufai had started collaborating with industry experts to fulfill the President’s commitment to uninterrupted power supply.
Prominent figures in this advisory team included Jimi Lawal, Olu Verheijen, Eyo Ekpo, and Tolu Oyekan.
The El-Rufai group believed that several factors could have caused the President to delay El-Rufai’s confirmation.
An undisclosed source close to the group stated, “Certain factions within the administration might have perceived El-Rufai as a threat. They may oppose him due to their own plans for the next election and view him as a potential obstacle to their ambitions.”
“Some political adversaries, such as Senator Shehu Sani, elements within the Christian Association of Nigeria, and even certain Muslim clerics, seem to be part of this collective effort.”
“Recalling El-Rufai’s previous clashes with federal lawmakers during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, where he exposed alleged bribe demands, sheds light on the resistance. While Obasanjo mediated and the Senate cleared El-Rufai, this history might have played a role.”
An earlier source had informed the platform, “El-Rufai engaged with the President on multiple occasions regarding the formation of the new ministry. El-Rufai proposed adding gas-related matters to the Ministry of Power, an idea President Tinubu embraced.”
“He also advocated establishing a National Energy Council composed of ministers overseeing finance, environment, energy, justice, and the National Security Adviser’s office.”
“The President seemed receptive to these concepts and had been receiving briefings from the former minister on his findings and progress.”
“The President was given assurance that consistent or partial power stability could be achieved within the next five to seven years.”
The alliance between President Tinubu and El-Rufai, rooted in the latter’s stance during a pre-election crisis within the All-Progressives Congress, initially led Tinubu to dismiss adverse security reports concerning El-Rufai.
However, sources indicate that influential figures among Tinubu’s close advisors expressed doubts about granting El-Rufai substantial power, raising concerns about his reliability.
The source elaborated, “Thus, those against El-Rufai succeeded when a subsequent security report was submitted. The report highlighted multiple reasons why El-Rufai shouldn’t be approved for a ministerial position.”
Punch unveiled a cover letter dated August 4, 2023, signed by Aminu Yusuf on behalf of the Director-General, Department of State Services. The letter, addressed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), conveyed recommendations to halt El-Rufai’s clearance for a ministerial position.
While the issues causing the hold were not disclosed, this letter outlined further vetting and background checks revealing problematic aspects affecting El-Rufai.
The anticipated alliance between President Tinubu and El-Rufai for a ministerial role has encountered obstacles, leading to uncertainty about El-Rufai’s involvement in the proposed Ministry of Power and Gas.