‘Why el-Rufai shut Arewa House against Obi’s supporters’
Facts have emerged on the reason Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, denied supporters of Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, access to Arewa House, which they duly paid for.
According to The Guardian checks, the action may not be unconnected with Obi’s restriction of el-Rufai’s movement during a governorship election in Anambra State close to a decade ago.
However, the Peter Obi Support Network (POSN) condemned el-Rufai’s decision, less than 24 hours after the Northern Summit in support of Obi-Datti.
Arewa House was earlier promoted as the venue for the event, but the governor allegedly put a spanner in the works.
In a press statement signed by its spokesman, Sani Altukry, POSN noted that El Rufai, through his spokesperson, reportedly called the Manager of Arewa House to notify POSN spokesman of the unavailability of the venue for the Peter-Datti Northern Summit.
While regretting that the governor failed to give any reason for turning down the group’s widely advertised use of the venue, Altukry explained: “The summit is not a political campaign of any sort, but a convergence of volunteers, would-be volunteers and supporters of the Obi-Datti project for necessary interaction and cross-fertilisation of ideas.”
He stated that the event was initially billed to hold on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at the Arewa House, Raba Road, Kaduna, before the governor issued a directive cancelling the use of the venue after POSN had paid the necessary fees for its use.
The statement reads: “We condemn the decision of El-Rufai to block the hosting of the Northern Summit for Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the LP presidential candidate and his running mate at the Arewa House in the state.
“The decision of the governor is disheartening at the critical point in time when Northern Nigerians are desperate for development and liberation from poverty due to maladministration.”
According to Altukry, the Obi-Datti movement represents all oppressed Nigerians and everyone that desires good governance, asserting that it was evident that the Kaduna governor “is intimidated by Obi’s rising profile across the length and breadth of the country.”
However, a Kaduna Government source confided in The Guardian that “all is fair in love and war,” recalling how, in 2013 during the Anambra governorship poll, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) confined El-Rufai to his hotel room, reportedly on Obi’s orders.
He stated: “The table has turned. Nine years ago, Mallam (El-Rufai) was kept at Finotel in Awka against his will when he arrived Anambra to monitor the election in which the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige was contesting.
“So, this time around, we are protecting the place and the organisers against any breakdown of the law. If anything happens to the attendees or the premises, the Kaduna State government would be held responsible. As a responsible Chief Security Officer of the state the governor decided on that measure. I did not say you should quote me.”
The Guardian learnt that the programme had been moved to an alternative venue housing one of the labour unions in the state.