Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has confessed that he shamelessly copied some of the development programmes of Interior Minister Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State.
Aregbesola served as Osun governor from 2010 to 2018 and assumed the role of Interior Minister in the President Muhammadu Buhari cabinet in 2019.
"The basis of my friendship and relationship with Rauf is because l found out that he is a socialist with a good heart,” El-Rufai said during a virtual colloquium put together to honour Aregbesola on his 63rd birthday.
The colloquium held on Saturday, May 30, 2020 and commenced at 11am.
“I got closer to him when l went to monitor his re-election in 2014 and saw quality school buildings, busy youths on roads sweeping and constructing drainage. I asked him and he said they were on a N10,000 stipend.
"What many haven't said is that Osun has the lowest crime rate in the country apart from its low unemployment and low poverty rates. The state became the safest in the country with Rauf as governor.
"His passion and concern about the fate of the vulnerable is legendary.
“This was a governor that had long distributed ICT tablets to public schools in his state before some of us started struggling to replicate the same in our various states.
“He started the free school feeding programme for public school students with huge value chains of cooks and sellers of farm produce which l copied for Kaduna state students.
“I had to send officials from Kaduna to under-study his style and system of governance. And l spent some time with him for tutorials. I am not ashamed to copy when I see something that is good.
"In fact, I am shameless when it comes to learning. These days, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. There's no new idea. If something has worked somewhere, there's nothing shameful in borrowing and replicating it,” El-Rufai said.
El-Rufai also explained why he still refers to Aregbesola as ‘Governor.’
“I still call Aregbesola ‘Governor’ because a Governor is higher than a Minister. I was Minister before I became Governor,” he said light-heartedly.
Other panelists at the colloquium included Chairman of Citibank Yemi Cardoso, CEO of Lotus Capital Limited Hajara Adeola, Country Director of DAI and development economist Joe Abah, a member of the president’s economic advisory council and CEO of Financial Derivatives Ltd Bismarck Rewane, Statistician General of the Federation Yemi Kale and Governor of Kebbi State Abubakar Bagudu.
The two-hour long virtual conference was moderated by Boason Omofaye. Each panelist was allotted five minutes with a further 60 seconds at the end for closing remarks.
Discussants proffered a slew of solutions to Nigeria’s problems and encouraged partnerships between the private and public sectors as a way of fixing the nation’s deplorable infrastructure, combating rising inequality and lowering unemployment rate.
In his remarks, Aregbesola commended the technical team who put the virtual conference together and the panelists.
"This is the new normal and this conference is proof that we don't have to gather in one hall where we are struggling to hear ourselves," he said.
He also had nice words for President Buhari and APC national leader Bola Tinubu.
"Buhari is always encouraging and motivating me," Aregbesola said. "Nigerians should keep supporting our president. Imagine what would have happened to us during this COVID-19 era if the president wasn't firm with his local rice policy."
"The hero of what I have done and become today is Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He takes all the glory apart from God," Aregbesola added.