Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, again on Thursday, took a swipe at the people he called elements in the Presidency, whom he said were bent on inciting voters against the All Progressives Congress.
The governor, who said this on a TV Continental programme, Journalists’ Hangout, said the time frame for the cashless policy was inflicting needless pain on Nigerians.
El-Rufai said this just as the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the party’s campaign rally in Osogbo, urged the electorate to troop out to vote ‘’even if they devalued the naira drastically.’’
He said, “Nothing they will say.., even if they devalue naira, where we will vote is not far from our house. We will trek down there. We will trek down to the polling booths. Where they put ballot boxes, we will get there. It is not always easy to take a palm kernel from its shell.”
El-Rufai’s assertion is coming 24 hours after he stated on Channels Television’s Sunrise programme that people whose preferred candidate lost the APC presidential ticket to the former Lagos state governor last year were working against the APC standard bearer.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had stated that the government was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the APC standard bearer.
But the Kaduna State governor appeared to be echoing Tinubu who cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis as part of plots to thwart the poll and his expected victory.
On Thursday, El-Rufai vowed that those opposed to the APC presidential candidate would be defeated and also unmasked in time.
Responding to a question, he said, “Unmasking them is not as joyful as defeating them. They will be unmasked in time. But we have defeated them when they wanted their own people in the national working committee of the party.
“We have defeated them when they wanted their own anointed person to be the presidential candidate without due regard, due process or respect for those of us that are governors, that have slaved to put this party together, campaigned for it and delivered the election twice. We didn’t matter.’’
“Meanwhile, none of them has contested an election as a councillor, and if they did, they won’t win. I have been elected twice with over a million votes in Kaduna State. I can claim to speak for the people.
‘’None of these people can. We will come to the unmasking stage, this is not the stage. The stage now is to draw the attention of Nigerians that they are elements that are doing this and they don’t mean well for our party, they want to incite voters against our party, so that we lose the elections.’’
The former FCT minister explained that the APC was working hard to win the election, adding that the party would expose those behind the plot against Tinubu.
According to him, the cabal misled the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) into taking a decision that would turn Nigerians against the ruling party.
He noted, “Once Nigerians know that, they will know where some of these funny decisions are coming from and when the election is done and settled by the grace of God in about three weeks, and I’m confident, we are not sleeping.
“We are going to work hard until (February) 27th when all the election results are out and by the grace of God, Asiwaju (Tinubu) is elected and other candidates of the APC; then we will unmask them.
Dummies to President
“This has been an ongoing issue and we just feel that some of these things that are being thought of and clothed with good intentions, and dummies being sold to the President so that the electorate will be incited; the people of Nigeria will be inflicted needless pain at the point in addition to all the other challenges that they are facing just so that they will revolt and say, look, we will vote for the other party. It is clear.’’
The governor submitted that his party was not against the cashless policy, but argued for extension of time to enable the citizens to lodge their money in the banks.
He stated, “I have a map of Nigeria with blind spots where there is no network; PoS won’t work there. It is not everywhere that you have bank branches. It is not everywhere you have PoS working. So, let’s sit and look at this thing and find out the reasonable time it takes to do this.
“Even the Central Bank Act that gives the President the power to issue to the Central Bank directives with regard to currency redesign says that reasonable time must be given before the currency ceases to be legal tender.’’
Faulting the timeline given by the CBN for the currency swap, El-Rufai said, “The question is: Is a few weeks a reasonable time in a country of one million square kilometres and over 200m people? How many bank branches are in Nigeria? How many ATMs?
“In Borno State, there are only two local governments out of 27 with a bank branch. In Yobe, only two local governments out of 17 have a bank branch.
“Even a cosmopolitan state relatively in the north like Kaduna has two local governments that have no bank branches and 10 with only one bank branch. So, everyone in that local government must come to that one bank branch? And this PoS that you are seeing in every street of Lagos; do you think you have PoS in every street of Kubau, Ikara and Makarfi which are local government headquarters in my state?’’
The governor accused the Peoples Democratic Party standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, who previously called for extension of the CBN deadline, of attempting to gain sympathy votes.
“But this week, because of a mere extension of 10 days, he’s turning round to say don’t extend; it means there is something. He’s clearly benefiting from this pain Nigerians are going through every day till today.
“I have reports that people in Kaduna cannot buy food and they cannot sell because there are no currency notes around. But the presidential candidate of the PDP is saying don’t extend because he’s gaining from it. The incitement of people against the APC is in his view to his advantage and this incitement is stronger in northern Nigeria where Atiku is to benefit from,’’ he submitted.
El-Rufai further observed that the presidential candidates of the other parties, except the New Nigeria Peoples Party, could leverage on their close relationship and ownership of banks to get cash from the financial institutions.