Senate President Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday, stopped the former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, from addressing a “strong petition” cited against him on the floor of the Senate during his ministerial screening exercise.
El-Rufai, who was Kaduna governor from May 2015 to May 2023, made the 28-man ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu.
Like other nominees being screened, El-Rufai was in the red chamber for confirmation today (Tuesday), and upon entering the hallowed chambers, he shared his resume with the lawmakers.
The 63-year-old told the Senators that it is his second time in the hallowed chamber having been screened and confirmed as Federal Capital Territory minister 20 years ago.
Senator Abdulaziz Yari from Zamfara West Senatorial District thereafter asked El-Rufai to share his plan on how to increase Nigeria’s electricity generation and distribution if made the power minister.
However, Senator Ibrahim Khalid from Kaduna North Senatorial District quickly urged his colleagues to allow El-Rufai to take a bow without further questioning just as the upper chamber allowed ex-Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) to do during their appearances and ministerial screenings.
Senator Karimi Sunday from Kogi West Senatorial District subsequently took over the floor and raised a “very strong petition” against El-Rufai that bothered on insecurity, unity, and national cohesion.
Sunday, who praised El-Rufai’s performance as Kaduna governor and FCT minister said, “but I have a very strong petition against you that bothers on security, unity and cohesiveness of the Nigerian nation and I think that petition has to be considered along this screening exercise”.
Sunday’s statement did not go down well with most of the lawmakers and Senator Muhammad Sani from Niger East Senatorial District told his colleagues to allow El-Rufai “take a bow and go” like other ex-governors.
But responding to Yari’s question, El-Rufai said amendments to the Electricity Act 2023 and the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 may be necessary to bring desired changes to the power sector.
The Kaduna ex-governor later moved to respond to Sunday’s comment on the petition against him.
“Distinguished Senate President, I would like to say one or two words before I leave. The distinguished Senator from Kogi talked about a petition against me,” El-Rufai said at the tail end of his appearance.
There was, however, a loud resistance from the Senators against the subject and the Senate President intervened saying, “Distinguished colleagues, perhaps I should inform you that I have received petitions from many other people in respect of other nominees but this is not where we are to deal with petitions. Our job here is to screen and of course, we can refer petitions to where petitions would be dealt with.
“These are the nominees of Mr President. If it is something that is a formal petition before the Senate, we will look at it formally but there are certain petitions that we have to refer to the Presidency or security agencies to look at and that has nothing to do with us.
“I think by the time we are going with the issue of confirmation and approval, we will so advise. So, I will want to plead with my brother (El-Rufai) to take a bow. So, don’t bother about (addressing the petition). Thank you.”
El-Rufai took a bow afterward and left the red chambers.
Kaduna, one of the seven states in North West Nigeria, is one of the most hit by killings and kidnappings in the last four years. Official data from the state government with El-Rufai as governor showed that bandits, terrorists, and armed men killed 1,192 residents and kidnapped over 3,000 innocent persons in the state in 2021.
Also, in 2022, the state government confirmed that 1,052 people were killed, 4,227 were abducted and 648 were injured.
Aside from the killings recorded in the state, especially in Southern Kaduna, the state has recorded some of the most dastard terrorist attacks in the country including a March 28, 2022, terrorist attack on a moving passenger AK9 train and insurgent attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) on August 24, 2021.