El-Rufai’s gale of demolitions -By Bridget Adamson

Filed under: National Issues |
Mallam Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State

Mallam Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State


Contrary to the promises he made during the electioneering campaign not to demolish buildings in Kaduna and its metropolis but rather to build more infrastructures and work towards the betterment of lives of the citizens in the spirit of change, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, has implemented the demolition of hundreds of exotic buildings and commercial centres within three months of his government.

The demolition order, which he said is irreversible had therefore rendered thousands of people homeless while several artisans and traders have also lost their shops to the exercise. Contradicting his promises in less than one year, El-Rufai had promised the eight million electorate in a statement on Monday November 3, 2014 to build a state that is free of poverty.

He also promised not to demolish any building like he did when he was Federal Capital Territory minister, saying Abuja and Kaduna are not the same. “Today, I stand before you to offer a hand of brotherhood and partnership in the mission to make Kaduna State great again. Let’s work together, man, woman, child, old and young; in the journey to knock down ethnic and religious divisions. I ask you to join me to chase out poverty forever; I ask you to join to build our state and make Kaduna great again.

“In contrast, what Kaduna needs are better schools, health facilities and productive farms in an atmosphere of improved peace and security. That will be the focus of APC’s efforts not the scaremongering of impending demolitions!” he said.

As at Monday August 17, 2015, no fewer than 93 buildings in Zaria had been demolished in the ongoing exercise. The government said it would not rescind its decision, adding that no promise of compensation was given to the owners of the structures. Defending his action, El-Rufai, in a statement said the action meant well for further expansion of the state. “It has become important to let the public know that what we are embarking on today is not the same as demolition. What we are doing is the recovery of lands belonging to schools, hospitals, which some powerful people have carved out and allocated to themselves.

“Unfortunately some distracters are going about saying this government has nothing than demolition. They are politicising the good intention of this government,” he said. Meanwhile, several people have reacted against El- Rufai’s defence cautioning him of the risk of destroying the assumed good governance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under which platform he was elected. Speaking on the ongoing demolition exercise, the Senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani, described the ongoing demolition exercise by the state government as “harsh and anti-people.” He advised the government to tread with caution in order not to plung the citizens into severe hardship.

“It is too early for a government that has just spent close to three months to reward those that voted us into power with suffering and lamentations.” Sani has consistently warned the governor on the interpretation of such actions on governance but he (El-Rufai) remains adamant. The comrade, however, believes that if the former minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), El-Rufai, refused to revisit his promises to the electorate but embarks on actions that can increase their sufferings and lamentations, he may eventually sink the state. Spokesman of the affected traders, Mr. Abiola Eneja, condemned the action, advising the government to be more human in its decisions.

A printer who does not want his name in print said: “Looking at the situation on ground; these people have children and relations and they feed on these businesses. When you are keeping them out of a shop, you should provide a comfortable place for them.

“Nobody says you should not develop the city, but when doing that, you should consider the plight of the masses who elected you into office. This is not the change that we voted for, we didn’t vote for Mallam El- Rufai to demolish our shops, we voted for him to give us good governance.

But we are disappointed with the action of the state government.” Several years after leaving office, the former Minister of FCT, El-Rufai, said he did not regret how he demolished several buildings in the nation’s capital city during his tenure. He claimed that it was that action that saved Abuja from being turned into a slum by influential persons in the corridors of power.

El-Rufai ordered the demolition of hundreds of buildings within the Abuja metropolis and the satellite towns for the distortion of the city’s master plan to the chagrin of the house owners. It would also be recalled that Governor El-Rufai recently banned street begging in the state and insisted that the ban will not be reversed saying it is in line with planned agenda for the state. In addition, the government reiterates that the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Achaba remains in force.

One would think that the dividend of democracy should be more than suffering, lamentation and perpetual hardship as inflicted by this governor that has been christened the expected messiah. If El-Rufai’s best achievement as both minister and governor is in the spreading of gospel of demolition of properties, then, Nigerians should begin to be worried about those they choose to lead the already impoverished nation. • Adamson, a public analyst wrote in from Lagos.