Some people around President don’t llike me—El Rufai
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai has denied the existence of any personal rift with President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that he still enjoyed his filial-like affinity with him.
He however stated that some persons around the president were fanning the embers of discord between them.
The people, the governor said that no one within the Presidential Villa, Abuja could stop him from accessing the President anytime he liked.
The governor who fielded questions from State House correspondents after observing the Friday Jummat worship with Buhari at the Presidential Villa said that he periodically met and discussed with President at his official residence.
It will be recalled that a damning personal memo El-Rufai wrote to the President September last year recently leaked and later went viral.
There were speculations that his relationship with Buhari had gone awry. Mallam El- Rufai had, in the memo, alleged that some people had hijacked the Presidency, calling the shots at their own whims and caprices.
However, since the return of the President from London on a medical vacation March 10, el-Rufai had not been sighted at the Villa.
Flanked by senators Abu Ibrahim and Kabiru Marafa from his State at the interview, the governor said: “There is no strain in my ties with the President. The villa is a bigger place. Within the villa, there are people that like me and there are those who don’t and it is normal. My relationship with the President has never been strained in anyway. I met with him last night. I did not talk about things like that but my relationship with him is like that of father and son and it is a privilege for me. I told him I will come today for the Jumaat and I did”.
“As usual, (he received me) with great warmth and graciousness and I am grateful for that.”
El-Rufai who confirmed that writing memos to the president was commonplace however showed surprise that the particular one he wrote since September, last year, suddenly became a public knowledge, saying that someone at the seat of power leaked it to the media.
While purging himself of any selfish inclinations, the governor was elated that most of his recommendations in the memo were being implemented by the government to give the people a face-lift.
“It was a private memo and it is not a letter. If you want to ask any question about it, you ask those who leaked the memo because I wrote it seven months ago. I have written similar memos to the President in the past and none of them got leaked. He knows that he can count on me to give him my views of what is out there that he may not hear and to give him sound advice without any interest on my part. “If anyone reads that memo he will see that there is nothing in the memo that has anything to do other than the success of Mr President and progress of the country. That is my goal and I am driven by that. I stand behind the President to the very end. “Yes,I believe that since September last year when I wrote the letter, there has been significant improvement in the delivery of services at the federal level as I said some of our federal programmes have started in earnest. Social protections for instance, the N-Power, budget releases have been accelerated. This is an unprecedented move, the Minister of Finance has released up to about a trillion Naira of capital budget. “In September last year, little or nothing had been released and that was part of my concern. Since then the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan has been done and published. At the time I wrote the memo, there was no five year plan for the country. Since then, the government has moved ahead to change some of the appointees of President Jonathan in parastatals. This is something that we were worried about. “Many of us in APC felt that we were in office but not in power because the people that Jonathan appointed were still running most of our key agencies. From September till date even up until yesterday, there has been significant improvement. So there is improvement and I believe that part of what I recommended to the President is being implemented, whether it was because of my memo or not, it’s being implemented. The country is moving forward and I am grateful to God for it. “I am disappointed that a private communication to the highest office in the land can be leaked and it was leaked from the villa. I am told by those that published it. But this is a fact of life. We live in an age where anything you write or say can be leaked. It is ok, my intentions are clear. I have no ill motive but I wanted to communicate with the President what many Nigerians are talking about and what steps can be taken to improve governance of the country and move the country forward. That was my motive and if tomorrow, like I said, I see anything that the President needs to know, I will discuss with him and I will articulate and put it into writing and on record for him to have a reminder document to work on. I have no regrets and I have no apologies”, he said. No one can stop me from coming to Villa Seemingly counseling political hangers-on to let the President some space to improve on his health status and concentrate on the work he was elected for.
The diminutive governor also stated that he had unfettered access to the president, saying that no one would dare stop him. “No, no one ever stopped me from coming to the villa and no one can stop me from coming to villa. As a governor I come here, I have blank cheques. No one checks me at the gate but I believe what the President needs is for those that love him to keep away from him and allow him to rest. “The President needs quality time to rest because meeting too many people strains leadership. I am a governor and I know that when I meet 10 people in a day, I get really tired. It is not the paperwork. It is not really the memos approving them or asking questions that strain a leader, it is the stream of visitors. “I do not want to contribute to the President’s problem by coming here every day. I am in touch with him. I know everything going on and I do not think I should add to his burden. Most of the time I come to visit the President I do not come to the office. I go to see him at home. “I think and I appeal to all of us that love the President to please allow him some space so that he will recover. We need him and the country needs him. It is in our interest for the stability of the country. We should just let him be. It is absolutely necessary. Let us leave him to do his work in the privacy of his room or his office without strings of visitors. Visitors stress leaders”, he said. Dogara my kid brother, no rift with Saraki El-Rufai also refuted the reports that he had some scores to settle with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
He said that he couldn’t have fallen out with Dogara who he referred to as his “kid brother” or Saraki who he had worked with in the past and still had the prospect of working with him in the future, saying that he was exercising his right as a Nigerian by asking the National Assembly to publish the details of their budget in the spirit of transparency and accountability.