When the member representing Kaduna North Federal Constituency, Samaila Suleiman, resigned his membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in March, 2022, he cited internal squabbles within the ruling party as his reason.
This, however, is far from the truth, as Daily Trust gathered that among other reasons, the young legislator was said to have left the party following an eagle-eye interest of Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s eldest son, Bello, on his seat at the green chamber.
Daily Trust reports that Suleiman, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Special Duties, in a letter dated March 8, 2022, addressed to the state’s APC Chairman, Emmanuel Jekada, stated that his decision followed the breakdown of internal democracy and factionalisation of the party at all levels, especially at the national level.
In the letter, attached with his APC membership card, which was copied to the APC chairman of Kaduna North Local Government Area and the ward chairman of Unguwan Sarki, Suleiman stated that his resignation was with immediate effect.
The APC Chairman of Kaduna North LGA, Suleiman Wada, confirmed that the letter had been received at the state secretariat.
However, weeks into his resignation, and having moved to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it became glaring that Bello el-Rufai was the major obstacle to Suleiman’s retention of his seat at the national assembly come 2023.
Tongues began to wag as to why Suleiman, a young and ambitious legislator, could leave the APC rather than slug it out with Bello.
Sources within the APC told our correspondent that Bello had been promised Suleiman’s seat.
Speaking with our correspondent, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Salisu Tanko Wusonu, however, said, “This is not true. The APC has not promised anyone the ticket. The ticket is with the delegates, and if you are serious and believe you are capable of contesting, then you have every right to canvas support from the delegates.
“Anyone who tells you that the ticket has been promised to someone is not telling the truth. The present member was elected under the APC twice. Should we say the ticket was promised to him at that time? Some people lost for him to win, and so that is just it. If you believe you are a vibrant politician and you know what you are doing, people will vote for you. There is nothing to fear.”
As a former Chairman of Kaduna North LGA who moved to the House of Representatives in 2015, Suleiman is said to be a grassroots mobiliser and popular among his constituents. He is of Kaduna’s old political dynasty as his father, Alhaji Abdu Suleiman, said to be one of the most influential political godfathers in the state.
Those in his camp say he is not afraid of taking risks.
A resident of Kaduna North said, “He is the only politician who won local government council election under President Muhammadu Buhari’s defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2008 given his grassroots antecedence and popularity among the downtrodden. Suleiman, if he had decided to slug it out with Bello he could have given both father and son a run for their money.”
Even in the PDP, Suleiman will have to slug it out with an old rival, Shehu ABG who also defected from the APC after the 2015 elections. ABG, who was a member for Kaduna North Federal Constituency under the defunct CPC, had moved to the APC but lost his seat to Suleiman in 2015.
Meanwhile, supporters of Bello, who is in his 30s, say his years of experience as a former senior legislative aide and Chief of Staff to Sen Uba Sani (Kaduna Central), has exposed him to legislative matters that will make him an asset to the people of the state.
“He will perform wonders for his constituents. He is smart and passionate like his father,” a member of the Bello el-Rufai Awareness Forum said.
But like his father, Bello though courageous and not scared to pick a fight, can be very controversial. In 2020 he was enmeshed in a controversial sexual abuse tweet when he made a slur on a gang rape against the mother of a twitter user. He later apologised for his infamous conduct on social media, saying his tweets fell short of his family’s values of decency and tolerance.
To get the APC ticket may just be a tea party for the young El-Rufai given that his father is in control of the party at the state level. However, to get to the green chamber, Bello will have to bulldoze his way through Suleiman’s grassroots popularity. To do that, he will not only rely on his father’s political structure, but on friends such as Hon Muktar Baloni, the Chairman of Kaduna North LGA.