APC discussing zoning Presidency to South, says El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday in Abuja said he was not nursing any ambition in 2023 but would support any candidate who emerged from the zoning arrangement, be it from the South.

El-Rufai said this during the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The governor lamented that kidnapping had become a business and called for an all-out simultaneous land and air assault on terrorists and their enclaves.

According to him, the Kaduna State Government has invested about N21bn in security since 2015 and has acquired enough technology to listen-in on the bandits’ phone conversations, but lacks the force to launch coordinated attacks on them.

Fielding questions from State House correspondents, he said, “I have zero ambition. I just want to finish this job, get on with my private life, write another book and make tonnes of money. The largest amount of money I ever got in my life was from writing the book, ‘Accidental Public Servant’. I have no ambition; I’ve never had any ambition. And if I die today, I am quite accomplished and happy, because I never in my life, based on my humble background, ever thought I would even enter this building.

“God has been very kind to me. And my outings in the public service have all been satisfactory? Why push my luck and go for a job with a 90 per cent chance of failure? So, I’m not an ambitious person. I’m just a person that gets things done when given the opportunity. I’ve never desired to run even for this governorship. It was President Buhari who literally forced me to run. He insisted that some of us run for governorship just in case he did not get elected again. He felt that we needed some ‘strong governance’. Those were the words he used. So, I have no aspirations.”

Asked about the zoning of political positions within the All Progressives Congress, the governor clarified his position made on Tuesday when he joined the Progressive Governors’ Forum on a visit to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to discuss the party’s convention, among other matters.

He said, “I want to clarify that the APC zoning arrangement that we announced is the zoning arrangement for the party. And we’ve always done that in the last three elections we’ve had. When we elected John Oyegun as chairman, we had this zoning arrangement; each zone will have these positions and so on. And we carried that to the time when Adams Oshiomhole assumed office as chairman.

“All we did now is to flip it. Since the chairman is going to be from the North-Central, it means that the North-Central will take all the positions of the South-South. If you check, you will see all the positions allocated to the North-Central were positions held by the South-South under Oyegun and Oshiomhole.

“All the positions held by the North-West went to the South-East and vice versa. All the positions held by the North-East went to the South-West and vice versa. That’s why the South-West will now produce the national secretary; the national secretary under Oyegun and Oshiomhole was Mai Mala Buni. So, that’s all we did.

“We are not talking about the Presidency yet. When we do this convention, we’ll elect national officers; then, we will start preparing for the primaries that will produce our candidates for the House of Reps, Senate and the Presidency. That’s when this conversation will take place.”

He said the zoning arrangement presented to Buhari on Tuesday, which he approved, was “only sending a signal about the party’s direction.”

“It is not zoning any presidency to anyone yet. But we’ve sent a signal,” he said.

Asked if he would support a candidate from the South-West, the former Federal Capital Territory minister said, “I will support any APC candidate if I’m satisfied that he will do the best for Nigeria. It doesn’t matter whether he’s from the South-West, South-East or South-South; the APC is what matters and the quality of the person.

“The discussion we are having is that the Presidency is zoned to the South. It’s not zoned to any particular place in the South. The South will have the first go at it. But we’re waiting to see who the aspirants are.”

On the security of Kaduna State and the entire North-West region, El-Rufai said banditry had lingered because the contiguous states had not launched a simultaneous assault on the bandits.

He added that the surrender of terrorists recorded in the past few months resulted from hunger and frustration due to severed supply lines, not necessarily because the terrorists were repentant, arguing that the only repentant terrorist was a dead one.

El-Rufai stated, “So, despite the military operations and everything, this banditry has become a business. It’s an industry. The money these guys are making is so much that they will not stop. If we continue the piecemeal approach to this banditry, it will continue to grow. We need to pursue the financing and logistics chain of the banditry as well because the amount of money these bandits are making is enough to destabilise this country. It is a lot of money.

“What needs to be done is, at the same time, bomb the forests, camps and have ground troops as a blocking force consisting of the Army, the police, Air Force and Navy Special Forces and just wipe them out once and for all.

“But it has to be done across the five states and Niger State at the same time. What we’ve been doing over the years is, they go to Zamfara, we chase them out; they go to Sokoto, we chase them out; then they move to Kebbi, Katsina or Kaduna. And they move seamlessly because of the forest ranges. We know where the camps are, have the maps and know everything. We have their phone numbers. We listen to their conversations sometimes.”

On the risk of killing innocent captives of the bandits, El-rufai said, “This is a war. In war, we always have collateral damage, unfortunately.”

Speaking about his efforts in improving education in Kaduna State, the governor said aside from firing 22,000 primary school teachers and hiring 25,000 as replacement, he was set to fire more under-qualified secondary school teachers to make room for another 7,700 qualified hands.

According to him, the goal is to make Kaduna schools capable enough to host children of government officials, adding, however, that he pulled his son out of a public school due to kidnapping threats.

“I took my child to a public school because we wanted to show that we believe in the quality of public education, which we all got. But I had to pull my son out because some people were planning a special operation to kidnap him. I don’t think they will succeed, but it will put other children at risk. So, I pulled him out. He’s getting homeschooling until the situation improves,” the governor added. PUNCH

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