Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has advocated that the best way to end political godfatherism in Lagos State is for politicians to directly engage and interact with the electorate.
Governor El-Rufai made the assertion on Saturday while responding to questions at an event organised by the Bridge Club tagged, “An evening with His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State,” in Ikoyi, Lagos.
In his address, the governor had persuaded members of the Bridge Club to actively participate in politics, noting that the policies made by government officials could either boost or mar business activities of the club members.
He argued that participating in politics is important as Nigeria has only remained a country of good potential due to capable persons not wanting to get involved in governance.
But Muiz Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a former Lagos State commissioner, and former APC National Legal adviser, asked Governor El-Rufai during the question and answer session about the possibility of professionals venturing into politics when the issue of godfatherism still reigns.
The senior lawyer then asked the governor to proffer a solution to how godfatherism can be tackled.
Responding, Governor el-Rufai noted that it was possible for working professionals to defeat godfathers if they decide to choose a different path in politics than the current set-up.
Recalling his experience in Kaduna, the governor said he worked hard to retire about four politicians who were regarded as the godfathers of the state’s politics.
He said: “Godfatherism. This is Lagos. Let me tell you something sir; you know, Kaduna State used to be like that. There were three or four politicians in Kaduna that you could not become anything unless you had them on your side. Those were the godfathers of Kaduna politics and you had to carry them along and you know, the three words, ‘carry them along’ mean paying them regularly.
“But we chose a different path and the long and short of it now is that after this election in 2019, we have retired all of them; we had to.”
Lamenting the disparity between the number of registered voters and the actual number of voters in the last general elections in Lagos, Governor El-Rufai said any working professional who is serious about venturing into politics would begin to court voters who abstained from the elections to build his or her own political base.
He said, “Here in Lagos, you have over six million registered voters, only about a million voted (in 2019 general elections); five million did not vote. If I want to run for governor of Lagos, I will start now. I will commission a study to know why those five million registered voters did not vote; where do they go on election day? Then I will start visiting them for the next four years. I will try and get just two million of them to come and vote for me; I will defeat any godfather.
“The key is to go to the people. The card reader and the biometric register have given us the tools to connect directly with the people. I assure you if you do that for the next four years, connecting with the people; the tin godfather, you will retire him or her permanently. But it is hard work; it requires three to four years of hard work. So, if you want to run in 2023, you should start now.”
Governor El-Rufai added: “With about N2 billion; if you start, you see these guys with black ties, they will give you the N2 billion. Many of the godfathers are either on paper or in the mind of people in politics. They are defeatable. We retired four of them in Kaduna State within a four-year time and they are gone. One of them boasted that he put me in the government house and he would take me out.”