Kaduna: Ex-APC Vice Chairman, Lukman Speaks On El-Rufai, Governor Sani Cold War

Former member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Salihu Mohd. Lukman, has blamed the debt outburst of Kaduna state governor, Uba Sani on the growing cold war between him and his predecessor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
Governor Sani had during a Town Hall meeting in Kaduna told stakeholders in the state that he inherited huge debt of $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities from the immediate past administration of El-Rufai.

The governor told the gathering that the huge debt profile of the state has made it insolvent and that his administration is finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries.

Explaining, the governor said out of N10 billion due to the state from federal allocation, N7 billion was deducted with only N3 billion left for the state.

He lamented that his administration is finding it difficult to honour the monthly salary obligation of N5.2 billion to its workers.

Reacting to the development in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, Lukman who was the immediate past National Vice Chairman (North West) of APC said the outburst is indicative of a strong disagreement and breakdown of relationship between Sani and el-Rufai.

In the statement titled, “Kaduna State Political Theatrics”, Lukman argued that APC members in the state must take responsibility for the bad situation facing the state.

Counselling that the governor should not reduce the situation to the politics of a blame game, the former Director General of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF) appealed to Sani to take every necessary step to undertake an inventory of the debt of the state and how it was utilised.

He insisted that “what is needed now is to assess whether there are cases of diversion, which if established should be recovered.”

Lukman noted that the issue of the huge debt burden of Kaduna State was a public secret, adding that it was a matter that was very well known to the incumbent governor.

Admitting that there could be new insight that the governor may have encountered after taking over, he reasoned that he (Sani) came well prepared and ready to deal with the challenges and move Kaduna State forward from where el-Rufai left it.

Lukman noted that part of the objective of the Town Hall meeting could also be to mobilise the people of the state to support the initiatives of the Kaduna State government.

He however said: “Unfortunately, as it is, the report seems to be sensationalised, suggesting the reality of strong disagreement and breakdown of the relationship between Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Mallam Uba Sani, which could as well be the case.

“I make this point cautiously having practically lost contact with both Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Mallam Uba Sani since my resignation as National Vice Chairman (North-West) in July 2023. I was only privileged to meet Mallam Uba once and thereafter couldn’t speak with him in any form. I only encountered Mallam Nasir once during the birthday reception of Chief Bisi Akande at the Presidential Villa and we only greeted and moved on.

“This notwithstanding, I can’t claim ignorance about some of the dynamics playing out in Kaduna State. I am aware of the growing animosity between Mallam Nasir and Mallam Uba, or at least I hear some of it from sources close to both of them.

“However, given the reality that I am not close to both Mallam Nasir and Mallam Uba, I opted to keep my distance and not meddle in a dispute between two very close friends. I expected that they would resolve the matter. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. I think people close to Mallam Nasir and Mallam Uba are also not helping matters.”

Proffering a solution the APC leader said, “In taking responsibility, we must appeal to Mallam Uba Sani to take every necessary step to undertake an inventory of the debt of the state and how it was utilised. Part of what is needed now very urgently is to assess whether there are cases of diversion, which if established should be recovered.

“More substantively, there is the need to come up with new initiatives towards mobilising new resources for the state. Resolving the challenge of today’s huge debt burden requires new initiatives beyond what is currently being undertaken.

“Mallam Uba need to set up a committee to review current challenges and recommend what needs to be done both in the short, medium, and long term. This is more about producing a blueprint that will guide initiatives of government across all sectors to address the challenge,” Lukman advised.

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