Nasir El-Rufai and Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

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I MUST start with some disclosures. I have written very scathing commentaries on Nasir El-Rufai in the past; these were especially during his years as Minister of the FCT. I was always ideologically opposed to his effusive defense of the neoliberal policies of the Obasanjo administration. That much I openly stated, without failing to acknowledge his commitment to duty.

In the years that he has left service, and against the backdrop of the subsequent deterioration in the quality of public service in our country, Nasir El-Rufai’s application, vision and achievements have come to be appreciated by a lot of Nigerians. In the same period, Nasir and I have become closer. We have discussed his years in power and I have come to know his views of developments better. I still have reservations his ideological perspectives but I respect his patriotic fervor and commitment to Nigeria’s development.

When I heard a few months ago, that he was likely to run for Kaduna state governorship, I phoned him to express my support and endorsement. Kaduna is one of the three cities I live in and it is my family’s favourite place. I feel a strong emotional attachment to the city and state. For my generation of Northerners, it remains the capital of the old Northern Nigeria that we were born into and grew up in.

I have always believed that whoever would make success of leadership in Kaduna state, must have an appreciation of its historical place in Nigerian development. It is such a broad understanding of history and a nuanced appreciation of the complex relationships between and within communities and peoples in that state and city that will condition successful leadership. Over the past couple of years, especially after Ahmed Makarfi, Kaduna has suffered very much.

That is why I sincerely believe that Nasir El-Rufai will make a good governor of Kaduna. He understands the intricacies that I have described; he has the intellectual capacity to analyze the issues and he possesses a tremendous team building ability to galvanize the best brains to work. Kaduna today needs a leader like Nasir El-Rufai; I do hope he wins his party’s ticket and then goes on to win a free and fair election, to be able to provide the leadership and development that my second home, Kaduna state deserves! Similarly, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed is seeking to go to Senate from Kaduna.

Anyone who has read Hakeem Baba-Ahmed or has had the privilege of listening to him, the intellectual and policy wonk rolled up into one, knows that Nigeria’s Senate will be eminently enriched by his presence there. I think we must begin to go for the highest denominators in our search for leadership so that we can get the very best of our country, coming to work for its development. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed will certainly be a major asset for Nigeria’s Senate if he wins his election.

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