The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, on Saturday said he defeated and retired four political godfathers in Kaduna State, saying the feat could be replicated anywhere, including Lagos State.
El-Rufai, who argued that godfathers existed only on paper or in the minds of the people, said the key to defeating them was in going directly to the people.
He, however, admitted that defeating godfathers required time and hard work.
The Kaduna State Governor spoke in Ikoyi, Lagos, at an event organised by the Bridge Club tagged, “An evening with His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State.”
In his main speech, El-Rufai had encouraged the club members, who are businessmen, not to shy away from politics, saying it was more important than making money as bad politics could mess up their businesses.
El-Rufai said Nigeria had permanently remained a country of potential because good and competent people had distanced themselves from politics.
However, during the question and answer session, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and three-time commissioner in Lagos State, Dr Muiz Banire, noted that godfathership was one of the drawbacks for professionals and businessmen who might want to go into politics.
Banire then asked El-Rufai how godfathership could be dealt with.
Responding, El-Rufai said, “Godfatherism. This is Lagos. Let me tell you something sir; you know, Kaduna State used to be like that. There were three or four politicians in Kaduna that you could not become anything unless you had them on your side. Those were the godfathers of Kaduna politics and you had to carry them along and you know, the three words, ‘carry them along’ mean paying them regularly.
“But we chose a different path and the long and short of it now is that after this election in 2019, we have retired all of them; we had to.”
El-Rufai added that the fact that only one million out of the six million registered voters in Lagos voted in the last general elections was an opportunity to end godfathership in the state.
He said, “Here in Lagos, you have over six million registered voters, only about a million voted (in 2019 general elections); five million did not vote. If I want to run for governor of Lagos, I will start now. I will commission a study to know why those five million registered voters did not vote; where do they go on election day? Then I will start visiting them for the next four years.
“I will try and get just two million of them to come and vote for me; I will defeat any godfather. The key is to go to the people. The card reader and the biometric register have given us the tools to connect directly with the people. I assure you if you do that for the next four years, connecting with the people; the tin godfather, you will retire him or her permanently. But it is hard work; it requires three to four years of hard work. So, if you want to run in 2023, you should start now.”
On the question of money, El-Rufai said it would require about N2bn to do the job, which he said the businessmen could provide.
“With about N2bn; if you start, you see these guys with black ties, they will give you the N2bn. Many of the godfathers are either on paper or in the mind of people in politics. They are defeatable. We retired four of them in Kaduna State within a four-year time and they are gone. One of them boasted that he put me in the government house and he would take me out.”
Earlier in his lecture, El-Rufai said the difference between Nigeria and progressive nations of the world was because incompetent people were in charge in Nigeria.
He said, “In most of the developed worlds, the best and the brightest are in politics and public service. I urge you to google the profiles of the captains of the USA, UK, Japan, China and Singapore over the last 10 years and compare their educational and experience profile with ours, you will understand why we are where we are.
“The UK has been run by graduates of Oxford most of the time; the US has been run by graduates of Harvard and Yale most of the time in the last 100 years. You go to China, Singapore, similar profiles. In Nigeria, we have people that never went to school in our National Assembly. We have people with questionable qualifications as state governors. We will go nowhere as long as our best and brightest, people that sit in rooms like this are not in politics or public service.”
The President of Bridge Club, Mr A.U. Mustapha (SAN), who is El-Rufai’s private lawyer, described the governor as an upright and an intelligent person.
Mustapha said El-Rufai was invited so that he could tell the club members about himself, as opposed to the image being given him by the press.
Among the dignitaries at the event were the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick; the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Waheed Olagunju; and MD, First City Monument Bank, Adam Nuru.