El-Rufai: Between a son, father and godfather | OrderPaper Backstory

Joy EruraneJune 8, 20246 min

Caught between political allegiance and filial loyalty, Mohammed Bello El-Rufai is left fiddling and fidgeting in cryptic utterances that betray the deep dilemma the House of Representatives’ member is in. Here’s a backstory into the unfolding political thriller in Kaduna State.

el-rufai
Rep Bello El-Rufai

The Kaduna House of Assembly is stomping strong on the back of the immediate past governor of the State, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, who governed from 2015 to 2023. During the week, the assembly released a damning report of an investigation that concluded that the former governor allegedly mismanaged the finances of the state and abused his office. While the legislators are leading the charge, fingers have been pointed to the incumbent governor, Uba Sani, as the unseen hand pulling the strings.

Governor Sani, a former Senator that served Kaduna Central constituents from 2019 to 2023, recently claimed that El-Rufai’s administration left behind a huge debt burden for the state: $587 million, N85 billion, and N115 billion in contract liabilities. This triggered the Kaduna assembly to form an ad-hoc committee to dig into the allegations. The committee has now reported that El-Rufai and other appointees had mismanaged and siphoned state funds amounting to N423 billion.

Unsurprisingly, El-Rufai has denied these allegations, calling them “false” and “scandalous.” The whole scandal is particularly intriguing because of the previously close relationship between Nasir El-Rufai and Sani, one of supposed godfather and godson. Their current public fallout has grabbed headlines, especially as Sani lamented that the debt is so huge that the remaining state funds are barely enough to cover salaries of workers.

El-Rufai and Sani...when the going was good
El-Rufai and Sani…when the going was good

But while the battle rages between predecessor and successor, there is the less spoken about story of the dilemma faced by Rep. Mohammed Bello El-Rufai, in all of this brohaha.

The dilemma of loyalty… 

El-Rufai, the House of Reps member
Mohammed Bello El-Rufai

Rep. Mohammed Bello El-Rufai is the son of the accused former governor and a former aide to the accuser. He currently represents Kaduna north federal constituency in the 10th House of Representatives and now finds himself in a tight spot. For context, Mohammed is the former Senior Legislative Aide (SLA) and Chief of Staff to Uba Sani when the latter was a senator in Abuja. The big question is: where does Mohammed’s loyalty lie in the political tug-of-war between his biological father and political godfather?

Father and son - the El-Rufais
Father and son – the El-Rufais

Word on the street in Kaduna is that Rep. El-Rufai, who chairs the House committee on banking regulations, reacted strongly when the Kaduna State House of Assembly initiated the investigation into his father’s administration. But his public utterances have been cryptic and measured. He took to X (Twitter) to express his grievance on the probe, calling for a “fight.”

El-Rufai tweets call for a fight

Reports also suggested that he threatened the Speaker of the assembly, Yusuf Liman, via WhatsApp. 

El-Rufai tweets The online outburst is not entirely unexpected, seeing as the younger El-Rufai has a history of making rash and controversial statements on social media, especially X (Twitter). He once threatened to gang-rape the mother of a Twitter user who criticised him, which went viral and provoked widespread outrage from Nigerians.

On the other hand, despite quietly defending his father against the accusation of looting Kaduna State, the young lawmaker has maintained that Uba Sani is still his mentor and boss, whom he remains loyal to and will never publicly criticise. In a recent interview, he detailed that the incumbent governor taught him politics and was the one that made him run for the House Of Representatives, adding that they still keep in close touch. He even publicly  disagreed with his brother, Bashir El-rufai over “embarrassing attack” on Governor Sani.

El-Rufai and Gov Sani
El-Rufai and Gov Sani

Browsing through Rep. El-Rufai’s X page, one can see a mix of vague messages and ambiguous statements. It’s not clear who he stands with, as he continues to proudly display his past role as Sani’s aide in his bio.

El-Rufai'sX bioAll of these have left many wondering who he is truly supporting in the Kaduna big fight at the moment. As a son, loyalty to his father is naturally expected. However, as a former aide who has frequently referred to Uba Sani as his mentor, the expectation of political allegiance also holds water. After all, Sani played a significant role in his political career, encouraging him to run for his current seat in the House of Representatives.

Is he standing with his father or his mentor? Time will tell. 

Joy Erurane

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