• Says three groups tried to kidnap his son from public school
El-Rufai, who claimed to have “suffered presidential ambition suspicion for 15 years”, said at 62, he is too old lead Nigeria.
Making the foregoing clarifications in an interview with the Pidgin Service of the BBC, the Kaduna State governor also explained the reason behind his decision to quietly withdraw his two children from a public school in Kaduna.
He regretted that his purported ambition to become Nigeria’s president had caused some people to paint him in bad light, including calling him a Jihadist, just to keep him out of presidential race.
He said that governing Kaduna State alone was telling on his age, not to talk of the entire country.
He said he considered governing Nigeria as a job that is too much for a 62-year-old man.
He said: “Look at me, look at my grey hair. If you see my picture when I was sworn in, my hair was very black, but look at how it has become.
“This is a very difficult job, and that is just state governor, one state out of 36. A big one, yes; a difficult one, yes, but it is not the same as Nigeria.
“Presidency of Nigeria is a very serious job; it is too much for a 62-year-old.”
Asked if he is interested in the office of the Vice-President, he said: “I have not thought about it at all. I have said it that in the political system we have, after eight years of President Buhari, the presidency should go to the south.
“I have been suffering this presidential ambition suspicion since 2006. I have suffered it for 15 years today, and I am sick and tired of it.
“There are people that are out to paint me in a particular picture so that I will be out of the presidential race, but they don’t know that I am not in any race anywhere.
“They have called me all sorts of names. They said I am a Hausa-Fulani irredentist; I am Jihadist and all that. Jihadist when? Where? I am not even an active member of any Islamic organisation.
“I am Muslim, yes, a devout one. But I believe religion is private. Even here in this office, when it is time for prayer, I just excuse myself as if I am going to the restroom. I don’t ask anyone to come and pray with me, because we will all go into our graves separately.
“Look around me as see; I am surrounded only by Muslims. This government is the only state government in this country that has at least people from 13 other states of the Federation as cabinet members.
“One of the most influential persons in my life, one of my closest political associates is Pastor Tunde Bakare.
“It was Pastor Tunde Bakare that actually introduced me to Buhari and CPC. I didn’t join the CPC because Buhari lives in Kaduna or he is a northerner.
“So, if I am an Islamic Jihadist, why will Pastor Tunde Bakare be speaking to me?”
‘Why I withdrew my son from public school’
El-Rufai also revealed that there was a plan by three groups of bandits to kidnap his son, Abubakar Sadiq, from Kaduna Capital School; a public school where he was enrolled in 2019.
The governor said following the intelligence at his disposal, he had to withdraw the kid from the school so that he would not fall victim to kidnappers or expose his schoolmates to danger in the event of an attack by gunmen.
The governor said he had also enrolled Sadiq’s younger sister, Nasrine, in the same school when she turned six years before the security situation in the state forced the family to withdraw the children temporarily.
The two children are currently taught at home but go to the public school during the examination period.
He said the kids would resume fully once the security situation in the state improves.
His words: “My son and also my daughter are registered in the school because his (Sadiq’s) sister also clocked six and we registered her in the school.
“But we had to temporarily withdraw them for the security of the school because we received a security report that three groups were planning to attack the school and kidnap my son.
“I don’t think they (kidnappers) would have succeeded because there is enough security in the school to prevent them, but it would expose other pupils of the school to danger.
“We didn’t know the kind of weapons they would have brought.
“I had taken a stand against payment of ransom and we had reports that three groups were planning to kidnap my son from Capital School to see whether I would pay ransom or not if my son is kidnapped.”
He said he was persuaded by the advice of security agencies to withdraw the kids for the time being.
“Both Abubakar Sadiq and Nasrine will go back to the school when there is confidence that their attendance will not put the school at risk,” he added.
Abubakar Sadiq was enrolled in the school by the governor in September 2019 in fulfillment of a promise he made in 2017 as a guest of Freedom Radio’s Hausa phone-in programme ‘Barka da War haka.’
During the programme, he pledged to revamp public schools in the state and enroll his child in a public school upon turning six years.
He told reporters moments after enrolling Abubakar Sadiq that it was a commitment that had been fulfilled.
His words: “I made that commitment because I believe that it is only when all political leaders have their children in public schools that we will pay due attention to the quality of public education.
“I went to a public school like this. In fact, the school I went to is not as good as this one, but here I am, because of the quality teaching I got.
“My intention is to ensure that all our public schools offer quality education, and so we are encouraging all our senior public servants to send their children to public schools.