By Israel Bulus, Kaduna
By May 29, 2023, the despotic reign of the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, will come to an abysmal end.
He stands in perfect comparison with the famous Adolf Hitler, not only in size but in the manner he ran his government that was fraught with anti-people policies which led to the unavoidable death of many citizens of the state.
With Saturday, 18th March, 2023 Governorship and Houses of Assembly election approaching, every citizen of Kaduna State is hereby availed of yet another opportunity to participate and vote in credible leaders that will heal the present wounds of disillusionment and despair for distraught communities of Kaduna State.
There’s no doubt saying that the 8-year tenure of Governor el-Rufai has been hell on earth for most citizens and residents in Kaduna State who have experienced unprecedented hardship under the present administration. His administration has been trailed with fierce agony and anti-people policies that have thrown many into the pit of abject poverty and homelessness.
It is on record that residents in the State only experienced el-Rufai’s full executive powers as demonstrated by the government’s deployment of raw power on innocent and defenceless citizens who were turned into soft targets for terrorists determined to turn our villages and towns into killing fields and decimating our once thriving communities.
For instance, communities in Birnin-Gwari on several occasions raised the alarm of imposition of levies by these terror groups before being allowed to harvest their farm produce. In some instances, they were forced to pay levies for protection as government security looked the other way without confronting those that have sworn to wipe out indigenous people from their ancestral lands.
Governor el-Rufai’s reign can be compared with that of an Egyptian pharaoh whose words were law as he equally displayed lack of empathy in the manner he treated citizens with disdain devoid of respect to the sanctity of life.
Governor el-Rufai had, during his inaugural speech in 2015, said:
“I pledge to do all that is humanly possible to move our dear state forward, beginning from today. As soon as I am sworn into office and constitute a state executive council, we shall begin work to meet your expectations of positive change.
“We are aware of your justifiably high expectations of our government. We will do our utmost to meet them. But we shall need your patience, sacrifice and support as we reform Kaduna state institutions to instill a culture of probity that insists on value for money that ensures that government procurement occurs at the most cost effective level and encourages personal responsibility. We will do whatever is humanly possible to fulfill the promises in our manifesto. Our commitment to transparency will be manifest as we reform the public sector to be an efficient deliverer of services.”
The 2015 inauguration speech, described by Nigerians as touching on critical issues that confront Kaduna State, earned el-Rufai national encomiums and filled Kaduna citizens with the hope for a new day. However, with the passing years, el-Rufai’s rule turned draconian and the economy declined, culminating into the collapse of many small scale businesses.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) took over the reins of power with great hope that Kaduna State, considered the heart of Northern Nigeria, was poised to recapture the greatness of the past. But just a few years later, el-Rufai started showing flashes of the brutal, authoritarian ruler he would become.
I think the legacy of el-Rufai’s life will be one of a leader who had so much, but missed so many opportunities and never used the knowledge he had for his own people. He has turned out to be a governor who has ruined his own state and denied it of the promised greatness.
In 2014, Bondong community in Kaura and some communities in Sanga Local Government Areas experienced the worst ruthless attacks under the administration of Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero. The incessant attacks unleashed by criminal groups dashed the hope of the Southern Kaduna people. The election of the Zaria-born quantity surveyor was seen as the only option in dealing with the monster of insecurity ravaging our communities.
Southern Kaduna and other parts of the state felt that el-Rufai’s emergence as governor would bring hope and heal their wounds. But it turned out to be a disaster. The same region he got a House of Representatives member and four State House of Assembly members, the first time since 1999, he turned against them.
Since the dawn of this broken democracy in 1999, el-Rufai remains the only opposition party that scored almost 45 percent votes from the Southern Kaduna region. His tenure has been characterised with untold hardship, poverty, communities destroyed either by bandits or government demolition of houses at wee hours.
Journalists and human right activists have become endangered species. They were treated with disdain under the dictatorial rule of the governor. Not less than 23,000 teachers, nearly 5,000 district heads and village heads have been sacked. The level of insecurity has gone over the skies and those who resigned or retired from the public service are yet to be paid their benefit.
The sacking of district heads and inability to cover the vacuum has worsened the security situation in the state. In a state that requires constant monitoring of communities, the sacking of these monarchs has left the state bereft of traditional supervisors and monitors of state security
To mentioned but a few, it was under el-Rufai’s watch that over 100 students of Bethel Baptist Science School, Green Field University students, two Nurses in Idon General Hospital, Students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Mando, and Train Passengers were kidnapped, while some gruesomely murdered.
Southern Kaduna over the last 8-years of the Governor el-Rufai administration was known as an enclave of bloodshed and tears, following persistent mass murder of farmers in bloody attacks described by the government as ethnic clashes. It is on record that the Kaduna State Government has not brought any attacker to justice over the incessant bloody attacks unleashed by criminal groups in the state.
One of the most deadly of such unprovoked attacks were the one that occurred on September 26 in Madamai community, and 18th December, 2022, all in Kaura Local Government Area of the state where a total of 90 people were killed, and no fewer than 200 houses burnt. It is unfortunate the el-Rufai administration has remained handicapped in the face of the mass killing of defenceless villagers.
The carnage of the past eight years has been senseless and cruel, just as the flood of bloodshed has continued unabated, leading to tens of thousands fleeing to Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in search for refuge and succour in their own ancestral lands.
Kaduna citizens are yearning for a leadership that will restore their hope, sanity and never experience the reign of despotism. Come next Saturday, march 18, Kaduna State citizens must unite and throw away a reign of impunity that was unleashed on the state eight years ago.
We must try to reclaim our state from forces that seek to divide us on the basis of ethnicity and religion.