A former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has withdrawn his interest in being part of President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.
Presidency sources said Mr El-Rufai told President Tinubu at a meeting on Tuesday that he was no longer interested in becoming a minister but would continue to contribute his quota to the development of Nigeria as a private citizen.
“He also told the president that he needed time to focus on his doctorate programme at a university in The Netherlands,” one of our sources said.
Another insider also told this medium that the former governor suggested a new ministerial nominee — Jafaru Ibrahim Sani — for Kaduna State, saying the President would find him very useful and resourceful.
Mr Sani served as commissioner in three ministries in Kaduna State (Local Government Education and Environment) while Mr El-Rufai was governor.
Mr El-Rufai visited the President at the presidential villa a day after the Senate confirmed 45 ministerial nominees after a week-long screening of 48 of them.
The upper legislative chamber, however, withheld his confirmation and those of two others, citing security reports from the State Security Service for the action.
The two others were a former senator from Taraba, Sani Danladi, and a nominee from Delta State, Stella Okotete.
Our sources said on becoming aware of the Senate pronouncement on his case, Mr El-Rufai, who only returned to Nigeria from London on Monday, sought and got an appointment to meet the president.
At the meeting on Tuesday afternoon, President Tinubu, according to our sources, told the former governor he received some petitions critical of his ministerial nomination.
The president then asked for 24 hours grace to review the petitions and the SSS report to the Senate to enable him to reach a decision.
It was at that point that Mr El-Rufai responded that he was no longer interested in being minister since it appeared some forces around the president were scheming intensely to block his emergence as federal minister.
Mr El-Rufai had disclosed during his confirmation hearing on 1 August that Mr Tinubu asked him to work with him on the power problem facing the country.
According to him, the President had given a target of seven years for Nigeria to stop experiencing power outages in the country.
At the Tuesday meeting, Mr El-Rufai also reportedly told the President that since he would no longer be in the federal executive council, he would return the next day with his team to present the preliminary work done so far on the energy sector.
The team that accompanied the former governor to make presentations to the president on Wednesday includes Eyo Ekpo, a former commissioner at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Hafiz Bayero, a former commissioner and administrator of the Kaduna Capital Territory Authority; Tolu Oyekan of the Boston Consulting Group and Ayodele Oni, a lawyer.
Olu Verheijen, the special adviser to the President on Energy Matters, presented on Gas.
Mr El-Rufai is studying for a doctorate in public policy at the United Nations University, Maastricht.
His associates say as he prepared to leave office as governor in May this year, he had indicated his desire to exit public life and concentrate on his PhD programme.
But that was until then President-elect Tinubu asked him to join his cabinet so he could charge him with the responsibility of repositioning the inefficient power sector in Africa’s largest economy.
It is unclear what suddenly went wrong between the two men such that an agency of government would block Mr El-Rufai’s ministerial nomination without the president lifting a finger.
When contacted, Muyiwa Adekeye, the media adviser to Mr El-Rufai, declined to comment for this story.