A former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, on Monday, formally declared his ambition to run for Governor of Kaduna State, with a pledge to turn around the fortunes of the state if voted into office next year.
Mr. El-Rufai, who looks set to clinch the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, described the current Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, administration of Governor Murktar Yero in the state, as incompetent, which should not be allowed to drag the state down.
The former minister told a cheering crowd of supporters and party leaders in Kaduna that he had traversed all the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State and visited tens of communities, but was left sad by what he saw as it would have been difficult to believe they were part of the state.
He said he also consulted widely with people, including traditional rulers, respected elders and public officials, who could speak, as well as ordinary people who relied on people to speak for them.
According to him, the purpose of the consultations was to listen to them and understand what they wanted from the state government and how the government and the people could work together to develop the state.
“To say that I was shocked by the level of neglect is an understatement. Our road networks have fallen into disrepair; our schools have no basic teaching and learning tools; our teachers are not motivated; our hospitals and clinics lack essential resources to mitigate the challenges of healthcare and our civil servants are not being sufficiently motivated. Poverty has become worse; unemployment has become more pervasive; agricultural productivity has declined; internally generated revenues are too low to even pay salaries. The picture is indeed very bleak”, Mr. El-Rufai said.
The former minister lamented that Kaduna State, which he said used to be known for its industries, now barely had flourishing or profitable factories and that even basic sanitation was absent because Kaduna and most of the local government area headquarters, were being overtaken by garbage.
He recounted that what he saw in the course of his visits and consultations and what both leading politicians and the people told him, “further reaffirmed my commitment to the decision I made to devote the rest of my life to public service as a way of giving back to the community; to working with my brothers and sisters across Kaduna State and beyond to uplift our state; to building a united state; driving out poverty and making Kaduna the first among equals in Nigeria”.
He declared, “Ladies and gentleman, we must move Kaduna State from a state where people live in mutual suspicion; where few people feel safe or secure and where nothing gets done.
“It is disheartening that Kaduna State which used to be a melting pot of religions, cultures and industry has become a battlefield of ethnic and religious divisions due to incessant conflicts, denial of opportunities and relentless narrowing of the space for political freedom and expression.
“We now have a state where a small self-centered clique controls the state’s resources while the generality of Kaduna people are excluded from political and economic opportunities”.
Mr. El-Rufai said the reign of underdevelopment and incompetence, which he attributed to the ruling PDP, must end immediately.
He said that the future of Kaduna State is too important to be left in the hands of a small clique that seeks to hold the people of the state to ransom. He asked the people to rise to the challenge, come together and take their destiny in their hands.
“That means we must first make conscious efforts by ourselves. My dear people of Kaduna State, what can we do to improve our circumstances? Can we continue to watch nonchalantly as a few individuals destroy our state and mortgage the future of our children?”
“The people of Kaduna state have the power to bring about meaningful change. We have the power to free our state from corruption, greed, nepotism and incompetence. That power is guaranteed in your right to vote. And that power must be used judiciously to throw out the gross incompetence being demonstrated by those in authority today. That power is what we must use in 2015 to elect leaders that have the desire and will to move Kaduna State to the path of unity, peace, progress and prosperity.
“Today, I stand before you to offer a hand of brotherhood and partnership in the mission to make Kaduna State great again. Let’s work together, man, woman, child, old and young; in the journey to knock down ethnic and religious divisions. I ask you to join me to chase out poverty forever; I ask you to join to build our state and make Kaduna great again”, El-Rufai stressed.
While saying that Kaduna is dear to him, Mr. El-Rufai urged the about eight million people of the state to join him in the rescue mission aimed at making it first among equals, whether they are Muslim or Christian; Hausa, Adara, Fulani, Bajjyu, Atyap, Gbagyi, Jabba or any of the numerous ethnic groups in the state.
Mr. El-Rufai used the event to revisit his era as FCT minister, saying his record in Abuja showed teamwork could produce phenomenal results.
According to him, his administration constructed needed infrastructure, promoted transparency and due process.
He said, “More than 27,000 Nigerians became landowners without having to bribe or lobby any official.
“All they did was to have complied with the land-application process. Many more – over 30,000 Nigerians – were able to buy homes by similarly complying with the rules for the purchase of government houses in Abuja”, he noted.
While defending the demolition that took place under his tenure as FCT minister, Mr. El-Rufai assured the people of Kaduna that the same measures would not be replicated in the state because Kaduna and Abuja were completely different in history, growth and priorities.
He explained that his administration undertook the demolition exercise in order to make Abuja a true national capital.
“In contrast, what Kaduna needs are better schools, health facilities and productive farms in an atmosphere of improved peace and security; that will be the focus of APC’s efforts not the scaremongering of impending demolitions!” he said.
Mr. El-Rufai also canvassed support for a presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), who was present at the declaration.
The former head of state, El-Rufai said, would provide the needed leadership that would bring about peace, prosperity and progress to Nigeria.