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El-Rufai, Kwankwaso meeting spurs fresh speculations about moves against Tinubu

The meeting between former Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and the leader of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, on…

The meeting between former Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai and the leader of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, on Thursday sparked fresh speculations that some northern political bigwigs are plotting a coalition to unseat President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2027, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.

While it wasn’t unusual to see El-Rufai and Kwankwaso together, preceding events, which had seen many northern political heavyweights turn the Daura home of former President Muhammadu Buhari into a sort of Mecca, have raised eyebrows among political observers.

It would be recalled that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, accompanied by former governors of Sokoto and Adamawa states, Senator Aminu Tambuwal and Jibrilla Bindow, paid a visit to Buhari, which was tagged a Sallah homage. Twenty-four hours after Atiku’s visit, El-Rufai also visited the former president, while a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, visited a few hours later.

Reacting to this, Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly, criticised it as an attempt to revive Buhari’s political influence and mobilise support for the 2027 presidential election, cautioning against stirring Arewa sentiment without regard for the potential chaos it could cause.

Analysts believe that with both El-Rufai and Kwankwaso currently having grievances with the President Tinubu-led government, their meeting may be part of a strategic scheme to rally around a formidable candidate to unseat the president in 2027.

While President Tinubu has reportedly made overtures to woo Kwankwaso to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the former Kano governor’s political enmity with his successor and current national chairman of the party, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is said to be among the obstacles.

It’s believed that Kwankwaso still harbours some misgivings towards President Tinubu over what those close to him called a betrayal of trust. After the 2023 presidential election, it was widely reported that Tinubu had offered Kwankwaso a ministerial position, but this did not materialise when the list was announced.

His recent ordeal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), involving an alleged N2.5 billion pension fraud and campaign finances, has further complicated their relationship.

The situation is similar with El-Rufai, who many believe was dealt a more embarrassing blow after he was nominated by the president for a cabinet position, but a last-minute security report led to his non-clearance by the National Assembly. His loyalists believe the president might have orchestrated the “embarrassment” to diminish the former Kaduna governor’s political clout.

EL-Rufai’s recent ordeal with his anointed successor, Governor Uba Sani, which has seen the state Assembly indict him in an alleged N432 billion misappropriation of state funds during his tenure from 2015 to 2023, adds to his troubles.

Before his meeting with Kwankwaso on Thursday, El-Rufai had been in the news over 2027 speculations recently. His meeting with some political leaders across different parties in March had fuelled speculations about his future political plans. He had earlier met with the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Shehu Musa Gabam, and had another meeting at the Abuja residence of Senator Abubakar Gada, a chieftain of the SDP, and other party leaders.

Also present were Senator Teslim Folarin, the APC gubernatorial candidate for Oyo State in the 2023 general elections, and Senator Nazif Suleiman, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Bauchi State, as well as Alhaji Aminu DanAgundi, a political heavyweight and kingmaker in Kano State. The meeting at Senator Gada’s home came a few days after El-Rufai hosted a gathering at his Abuja residence, which included the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam (a chieftain of the APC), Shehu Musa Gabam, and others, for a Ramadan iftar (the breaking of fast).

Some analysts believe that with President Tinubu’s desire to consolidate power before 2027, some aggrieved politicians may be using these meetings to stir the hornet’s nest, while others suggest the president may be wary of taking them lightly, considering how similar meetings led to the formation of the APC in 2014, ending the PDP’s 16-year uninterrupted rule.

Those in the latter category believe that the moves by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to lead a charge for a coalition ahead of the 2027 polls may serve as a launch pad for a major political upset.

Kwankwaso’s meeting with El-Rufai, a rescue mission, says political ally

Meanwhile, Hashimu Dungurawa, the chairman of the NNPP in Kano State and a close ally of Kwankwaso, the party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 election, said the recent meeting between El-Rufai and Kwankwaso was a brotherly reunion of two progressive politicians.

Commenting on a possible political alliance between the two, Dungurawa said it was too early to tell but admitted that the two are progressive politicians on a rescue mission.

He said, “Their target is to rescue the Northwest, rescue the northern part, and, by extension, rescue Nigeria.”

He noted that it was evident from their performances in various offices that both leaders have the people at heart and have many things in common, including integrity and the experience to lead the country to El Dorado.

The visit to El-Rufai, he said, is a testimony that northern political leaders are together and will collaborate to rescue Nigeria.

Commenting on the probe of Kwankwaso over the NNPP’s campaign funds by the EFCC, Dungurawa said those who brought the matter to the anti-graft agency have been expelled from the NNPP.

He said they were being used by political opponents to distract Kwankwaso, who is determined to sanitise the system to make it work for the people.

The chairman said no amount of blackmail will frustrate Kwankwaso, whose rising political profile is causing fear among his opponents.

Efforts to get a comment from the media aide to El-Rufai, Muyiwa Adekeye, on the agenda of the meeting between his principal and Kwankwaso were not successful. Also, Kwankwaso’s media aide, Saifullahi Hassan, was also unavailable.

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