By Emmanuel Aziken
Immediate past Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai returned home to a rapturous reception in Dutse, Jigawa State, penultimate Friday. Rufai, a heroine to many who welcomed her, said she was returning to teaching in the university. But she had one plea for inquisitive journalists that day
With her husband, Dr.Ahmed Rufai proudly seated beside her in the VIP enclosure of the Aminu Kano Triangle in Dutse, Jigawa State, and the crowd roaring her name, it was not surprising that the immediate past Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai was asked if she would consider entering politics.
“I am a professional, but since I joined (government) in 2007, I have practiced politics, so there is nothing wrong with me as a technocrat being a politician,” Professor Rufai said at the reception organized for her by the state government on Friday, September 13. The crowd that poured out to receive the former minister was overwhelming.
Well wishers of the former minister who came from all parts of the state stretched out from the covered stands to the field. Outside the triangle, hundreds lined
the adjoining streets leading to the arena. Her chief cheer leader was Governor Sule Lamido who nominated her to the federal cabinet in 2011 after her successful stint in the state cabinet between 2007 and 2011. Governor Lamido was to express his satisfaction at her service in Abuja, telling the
crowd that day that he was comforted by the fact that Rufai was not sacked for incompetence.
Lamido who claimed to have been told by President Goodluck Jonathan few weeks beforere the cabinet shake up that Hajiya Rufai was doing a good job told the cheering crowd:“He told me he was very proud of what you did.”
So if Rufai did a good job as minister of education, it was easy for many that day to assume that she was sacked for political expediency given the ongoing war between Lamido and the presidency.
“Ruqayyatu has discharged her responsibilities as minister responsibly and I repeat there is no anger or ill feeling because what the president did is within his constitutional powers. We have no pain, no ill feeling,” the governor said. When she was called upon to address the crowd, the arena literally went into a frenzy as the crowd, almost all men, roared in excitement. Rufai spoke in Hausa and thanked
Governor Lamido and President Jonathan for the opportunity to serve. She in her own way sought to console the crowd saying, “I am not the first and I will not be the last.” Her legacy was not lost on many. She is the first female minister of education from the North.
Following her, Lamido stepped up to the podium to address the cheering crowd. Despite the thick suspicion of political undertones alleged in her removal from office, the governor was reassuring, telling his listeners not to tie politics to the development. “There is need for people to know why we are gathered here. Anything that has a beginning has an end,” the governor said. “We have no grudge against her removal, we love anybody that loves us. It was the president’s wisdom to appoint her,” he said. “Let me remind us that as Muslims we were very happy when our sister, daughter, mother
and grandmother was picked by our brother President Jonathan,” he added. “JigawaState is the only state in the North that has two ministers and this is because of the attachment the president has for Jigawa,” Lamido added.
Concluding, the governor said: “This is not the time for politics, the time will come, the purpose here is to honour our daughter, that time will come.” Following the governor’s speech, the reception
came to an end and newsmen sought some words from the guest of honour. Professor Rufai was quick to assert her readiness to return to the university. “I plan to go back to my university, I am a professor in education in curriculum studies and I will report on Monday and then take a brief leave to have a kind of rest, but I am going back to the university.”
Asked if she had any regrets, she said: “This is the fourth time that I am handing over in my life. I have been a commissioner twice and I have been a minister twice and it is really not a surprise and depending on what the circumstances may be,” just as she poured commendations on President Jonathan and Governor Lamido for the opportunity to serve.
Now that she is returning to the university as a lecturer, this reporter was tempted to ask her if she would be joining the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, she begged not to be dragged into controversy. “Don’t make me controversial, don’t make me controversial,” she pleaded.