BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – Just about a year to the conduct of yet another governorship poll in 2019, Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai of Kaduna State has commenced subterranean moves towards realising his re-election dream through wooing southern Kaduna for support.
According to sources in the state, the governor has reached out to a retired Air Force officer (names withheld) to serve as the arrowhead of this latest efforts in courting Southern Kaduna, with a strategy of rallying support from traditional rulers, estranged members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state loyal to him, including religious leaders.
However, the current efforts by the embattled governor may turn out fruitless, as major players in the APC from the southern part are only willing to identify with the AKIDA and Restoration Group of the APC.
“I can confidently inform you that considering the forgiving nature of the Southern Kaduna people, Governor el-Rufai has commenced earnest efforts at reconciling with the zone. But prominent persons from the area who feel aggrieved are not willing to identify with him.
“Politicians like Former Chief of Naval Staff, Ibrahim Iko, Hon. Hussaini Dembo, Maiyashim Tom, among several others, are not willing to be lured into supporting El-Rufai for yet another second term. If the man is doing what he is presently doing without any form of consideration, especially demolishing property belonging to Sen Suleiman Hunkuyi, he will definitely do worse when he is given a second a term,”” the source said.
In a bid to ensure his dream for re-election scales through, el-Rufai is set to appoint Southern Kaduna indigenes into key positions, with the hope of getting them build a bulwark of support for him.
“Apart from plans to deploy new hands for the social media to boost his waning popularity, the governor is planning to announce new appointments for Southern Kaduna to enable them rally the zone for his re-election bid. With the current turmoil in both the Northern and Central zone, the pro-el-Rufai group believes that only Southern Kaduna zone can swing the votes for his favour.
“He knows the challenge for his re-election is herculean. He is also aware that only Southern Kaduna can forgive and come for his rescue and avoid his sinking re-election dream.”
Another strategy to be deployed ahead of 2019 polls, according to yet another source, some of those recruited to drum up support for el-Rufai are expected to make appearances on radio and television stations to speak favourably for the embattled governor in a bid “to bolster the wobbly support base of el-Rufai in Southern Kaduna, make his opponents jittery and cause serious confusion in the ranks of our weak ones. Because for the first time, Southern Kaduna natives would be seen speaking without let or hindrance for the governor whose has become most unpopular in the state.
“The retired air force officer handing the el-Rufai project and members of his group are presently planning for a big meeting with Southern Kaduna traditional leaders. The aim of the meeting is to convince the royal fathers that el-Rufai is being unfortunately misunderstood with all the great plans he has, especially for the royal fathers. The royal fathers, alongside some elders of APC, either directly or by proxies, are expected to persuade leading community leaders, youth leaders and women of note to join the pro-el-Rufai bandwagon.”
Before middle of this year, according to the source knowledgeable in the el-Rufai re-election project, hitherto abandoned projects in the southern axis are to be revived, with the hope of convincing Southern Kaduna people that the governor means well for the zone.