El-Rufai may have taken Mama Taraba to the cleaners last week, but he had a bigger target in his mind's eye.
"In the APC, she was never in the Buhari camp, she did not support our candidates during the National Convention, she didn't vote for Buhari during the Primaries”, El-Rufai said without mincing words.
El-Rufai also said the president also rejected suggestions from ‘Buharists’ like him not to name Mama Taraba in his cabinet, back in 2015 : "Even though she was never a supporter of his politics or what he believes in, his ideology, he still believed that to encourage women in politics, what she has tried to do in Taraba earned her being nominated as a Minister.
"Many in Buhari camp did not support his picking her, but he overrode everybody because he tries to consider every Nigerian his own son or daughter."
It was typical El-Rufai—blunt and shooting from the hip.
The Kaduna Governor prides himself as a Buharist. And he is right. Mama Taraba’s statements last week were an affront to ‘Buharists’ like El-Rufai and Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State for instance.
It is little wonder that they were left fuming by her ‘audacity’ to go public with her support for Atiku while still serving in Buhari’s cabinet.
Here is Governor Amosun’s diatribe at Mama Taraba: "Though she is entitled to her own opinion at any point in time, she should have just resigned her appointment because her loyalty cannot be in two places.
"Her falling short of resigning, takes everything away from what she said and it is clear that she will no longer be contributing to the development of the present administration."
El-Rufai and Amosun knew exactly what they were doing. They know Buhari won’t say a word. They had to rise up in his defense in public and they did.
El-Rufai is no fan of Atiku. He makes no pretenses about his disdain for the former Nigeria Vice President. What we saw from El-Rufai last week was a show of force. The message must have been addressed to Mama Taraba but the Kaduna Governor certainly had Atiku in his crosshairs.
This, for El-Rufai, is war…a political war which for him, goes beyond his support for Buhari. This was El-Rufai taking on Atiku by using Mama Taraba as a foil.
El-Rufai and Atiku don't see eye to eye. Calling them 'sworn enemies' could be a stretch but it's as close to an apt description of the relationship between both men as you are ever going to get.
Let it be known that more muscles will be flexed as we march toward 2019. El-Rufai may not run for president. But he wouldn’t want Atiku any closer to Aso Rock either--if he has his way.
And for a self acclaimed 'Buharist', he could have his way.