By Terna Francis Ph.D
…by the time I returned to Kaduna state, where I was born and raised in 2019, I was jobless. Though the primary aim of my coming back to the state was to undertake a Doctorate degree program at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, how I was going to do that without a job plus being a family man with twin-boys and a wife was a big source of worry for me. I started scouting for a job, in order not to be a burden onto others.
By June, 2019, I was settled in school (Zaria) with serious academic work already in place. Well, I had only 3 courses (first semester) to offer and since it was a PhD program, I was able to collapse the 3 in one day. Thus, I decided to reside in Kaduna; driving to Zaria only on Wednesdays for my lectures.
Now, I had 6 days of doing nothing really serious in a week, since my research had not started. It was this period of scouting around for opportunities to engage myself even if just to beat boredom that I got to know about Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation online – a literary foundation.
I decided to take a shot by turning in an application to serve as a volunteer. Being the operational head of the foundation, Her Excellency, Hajiya Hadiza El-Rufai saw my CV and invited me for an interview. To cut short the story, at the interview, she was impressed and decided I should start work immediately. This happened without any connection, referral or introduction by any “powerful person”.
I started work as a volunteer and I was assigned various important tasks, which by the grace of God, I accomplished successfully. After 3 months, I was engaged fully as Program Officer and later, I rose to become a Manager.
It was in the course of working at the foundation that I met His Excellency, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, then serving as governor of Kaduna State. My first meeting with him was when he came to inspect the Hamza El-Rufi Public Library I set up. One thing that stunned me and endeared him further to me, was his humble disposition and willingness to learn as he asked me questions and questioned my answers until we arrived at an answer that was unquestionable and maybe, a question that was unanswerable. I left that day with a different impression about the person of Nasir El-Rufai.
Next meeting was in Her Excellency’s private sitting room in Kaduna state government house. While I was doing a task for Her Excellency on her computer, the then Governor walked in solemnly and stood behind me for a while before I even noticed he was there. He later invited me to have lunch with him and of course, who would say no to lunch with the “almighty” governor? In as much as he tried to make me feel comfortable at the table, I remained uneasy till lunch ended. One thing that has kept me in admiration of His Excellency is his ability to remember people and call them by their names. After my first meeting with him, he has never missed the name “Terna”. This means a lot, particularly within our existential reality.
By November, 2019, I wanted to open a Restaurant and Bakery in Kaduna; I told Her Excellency about it and she supported in an uncommon way. In fact, she was there with some Commissioners to perform the opening ceremony and she spoke well of me before my guests.
In February, 2020, I was done with my PhD course work and I came back to report and appreciate Her Excellency for her support. It was at that point that she encouraged me to go into lecturing and facilitated my appointment as a lecturer with the Kaduna State University, Kaduna through a meritorious process.
Again, by December, 2020, my son, Justin was to undergo a surgical procedure at the National Hospital, Abuja and because it was around Christmas, we looked for blood all round without success. I was ready to pay any amount but found none. I even contacted some social media influencers to help me post on social media but no one came through for us. A voice then whispered to me and I made a post in our office whatsapp group; where Her Excellency is a member.
In less than 10 minutes, she called me and made arrangements for her son, Bashir El-Rufai to go and donate 2 pints of blood that night for my son. Through this, my son’s life was saved. And I think it was at this point, that my family and I were unofficially adopted by the El-Rufais.
Early this year, I applied for the position of Education Secretary, Kaduna state government. I went through the process independently and by the grace of God, I emerged the overall best with the highest score. However, a few factors were to play out against me; one of which was the question of indigenization. Again, His Excellency insisted on merit and approved my appointment to serve in that position.
Wow! Could this be the same man tagged a religious bigot; a fanatic and advocate of Islamization?? Same El-Rufai said to only cares about muslims?
Under the administration of Nasir El-Rufai, many people cut across religious inclinations, ethnic and geographical lines acquired landed properties through direct allocation from KADGIS and some got state/local government jobs without knowing any powerful person. All you need do is to be qualified for whatever benefit and you will get it.
These and many more are some of the favours I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy from the El-Refais : not as a member of their family, not from any of their friends, not as a Hausa/Fulani man, not as a Muslim or as someone from the core north.
For those who have interacted with the El-Rufais at a personal or unofficial level, they will attest to the fact they are naturally kind and humane and don’t really care about where you come from before they can be of assistance to you. That is the El-Rufai that I know and that is what his family represents. If in the course of implementing his policies and programs for the overall interest of the state or the office he occupies you felt bruised; that’s administration and that’s exactly what defines the person of El-Rufai – his resolve to do the right thing no matter whose ox is gored. He will never apologize for this.
In as much as this article is not a response to the present circumstances around former Governor Nasir El-Rufai, I wish to make certain observations or contribute to the discourse as a public commentator and a mentee, who has a fair knowledge of the person in question.
Many of the haters of El-Rufai want to create a fallacious impression that El-Rufai is desperate for position in the current administration. But the truth is that El-Rufai’s acceptance to serve in Tinubu’s administration is as good as doing Tinubu a favour.
Towards the end of his second tenure as Governor of Kaduna state, El-Rufai said he wants to rest and give the younger ones a chance to serve. He actually meant what he said.
Many of those confirmed ministers, are not deserving of the position. In fact, they take their appointment as life’s achievement – their whole life rests on that appointment. However, El-Rufai is completely different from them. We know his outstanding pedigree. Love him or hate him, you cannot take the fact away that El-Rufai is an outstanding performer. He always leaves a positive result behind anywhere he serves.
If El-Rufai were to be a footballer, I would have likened him to the most sought after striker. But then, if El-Rufai later decides that he will no longer serve, then we are the losers and not him. It should really get us worried that once again the enemies of our dear nation have had their way. We must rise up to fight the enemies who hold our country to ransom.
If we allow the enemies to succeed in the case of El-Rufai, then, that is how they will continue to have their way against other true patriots whose love for the country is never in doubt.
The enemies have permeated into the fabric of progressivism and have doused the whole progressive energy leaving her foot soldiers struggling for a space in the supposed family meeting.
Of course, El-Rufai is not indispensable or without human faults. No human is perfect. Nigeria can no doubt move forward without him. But It is the enemies of the country that will have the last laugh. By making sure Tinubu didn’t have his way on El-Rufai, it will boost their ego. They will make sure they detect in future appointments that required the constitutional approval of the National Assembly who serve and who does not serve. Tinubu will be the great loser here. Because he will not be able to bring on board those he so trusts to move his administration forward. The more reason He must stand up and never allow the enemies who must give a dog a bad name in order to hang it to have their way on El-Rufai.
El-rufai, unlike some of the other ministerial nominees is Tinubu’s personal person. He is not being nominated for political compensation like some of the other persons. He is being nominated by the president because he believes in his capacity to serve. Remember, before the 2023 election, he was one of the few who accompanied Tinubu to Chatham House as part of his team. He was among those whom Tinubu threw some of the questions asked him in Chatham house to answer.
I must mention clearly that His Excellency, Malam Nasir El-Rufai doesn’t require human validation or otherwise for him to act in a certain way or become whatever God has destined for him. He’s determined to achieve excellence in any task embarked upon and no amount of tongue wagging or feet shoveling would deter him as far as he is convinced that he is doing the right thing.
Those who are fighting El-Rufai are not fighting El-Rufai per se; it is Tinubu they have in their firing range. They are only using El-Rufai to test the water. Once they succeed, they will start targeting other key people in Tinubu’s government and have them replaced with their choice – those who will do their bidding and continue to compromise in order to keep us in slavery and perpetual darkness.
Some persons have hidden animosity against El-Rufai. They don’t want to see beyond their sentiments and political affiliations. May God see us through. Amen